The discussion of the spiritual discipline of “celebration” is quite confrontational and deep. We celebrate what we intrinsically value. If we look at our discipline(s) in life and/or lack thereof… it might actually point to an unsettling reality that we do not value with our actions what we profess to value with our words.
As you look at your daily life, what do your actions show you celebrate and deeply value? How often do you celebrate your comforts, preferences, or freedoms instead of celebrating Christ for what He accomplished on the cross? Do you celebrate yourself? Are you worthy of being celebrated? Are the things, people, or ambitions you celebrate worthy of your adoration?
Our small group is currently exploring the various spiritual disciplines. Tonight we discussed the disciplines of celebration and gratitude. I thought I would quickly post notes on celebration from the books we are going through. The books are Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster and Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us by Adele Calhoun. The content in this post is referenced and adapted from those books.
Desiring & Defining “Celebration”
The core DESIRE of Celebration: to take joyful, passionate pleasure in God and the radically glorious nature of God’s people, Word, world and purposes.
The DEFINITION of Celebration: Celebration is a way of engaging in actions that orient the spirit toward worship, praise and thanksgiving. Delighting in all the attentions and never-changing presence of the Trinity fuels celebration.
Celebration Gives Strength to Live
Zephaniah 3:17: The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
- Celebration provides the strength to live in ALL the spiritual disciplines.
- It’s at the heart of the way and life of Christ.
Psalm 47:1: Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
- Brings joy into life… joy makes us strong… joy produces energy in and from the Holy Spirit.
- The joy of the Lord is our strength.
- Celebration is central to the disciplines. Without a joyful spirit of festivity, the disciplines become dull, death-breathing tools in the hands of modern Pharisees.
Galatians 5:22-23: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control;against such things there is no law.
The Path to Celebration
Nehemiah 8:10: Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
- The path to true joy is OBEDIENCE.
- Joy comes through and from obeying Christ.
- Our hearts are transformed through obedience.
- Joy comes through obedience to Christ, and joy results from obedience to Christ
- For celebration to be genuine, obedience must be woven into the ordinary, sometimes mundane, fabric of our daily lives.
- God’s normal means of bringing his joy is by redeeming and sanctifying the ordinary junctures of human life.
Luke 11:27-28: 27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
Joy is the end result of the spiritual disciplines being a reality in our lives and devotion to Christ. God brings about the transformation of our lives through the Holy Spirit and the disciplines… and we only know true joy as the Holy Spirit transforms us from the inside out. Holy Spirit transformation causes us to radiate in and from the Spirit, show abundant love, sanctifies us, grows our understanding and giving of grace, and molds us into Christlikeness.
The Spirit of Carefree Celebration
Philippians 4:4-9: 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
- Christians are called to free of worry and anxiety… this only comes as we abide in the Holy Spirit, obey Christ, and trust in God.
- Celebration is truly awakened in us as we learn to be anxious in nothing.
- We have to ACTIVELY DECIDE to focus on higher, more important things in life and set our eyes, hearts, and thoughts on God. This is an act of the will. This is a choice. This is Celebration!
- Celebration is the result of consciously choosing to dwell on Christ.
- As we focus on Christ… we celebrate him, which fuels our celebration of and in Him… and the inevitable result… again… is joy.
Matthew 6:25-34: 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
The Benefits of Celebration
Psalm 139:14: I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
- While we don’t actively seek the benefits of celebration… there will inevitably be wonderful out-flowings and results of celebrating Christ!
- The most important benefit of celebration is that it keeps us from taking ourselves to seriously. It helps us laugh at ourselves!
- Jesus rejoiced and celebrated in life so much that people thought he was a drunk and glutton (though he obviously wasn’t).
- Celebration can be a great antidote for sadness, depression, oppression, focusing on self, self-esteem, and self-defined / aspired / focused self-worth.
- Celebration gives us perspective on the world, our context, and the beauty of Christ.
- Celebration allows us to be released from being arrogant or thinking we are important… in doing so, it also frees us from being judgmental of others.
- One of the beauties of celebration is that it is a self-fulfilling loop… celebration creates celebration, laughter fuels laughter, joy begets joy… it is self-multiplying!
The Practice of Celebration
There are a variety of ways to practice celebration. Unfortunately, most of us confine celebration to church gatherings, corporate worship, singing in the car, and occasional parties. The longest book in the Bible, Psalms, is a collection of celebratory art in the form of poetry. Sometimes the Psalms are filled with God-glorifying and focused joy and celebration… other times they are filled with depravity, lament, complaining, whining, and frustration. We need to stretch and challenge our understanding, experience, and practice of celebration! Celebration erupts out of our adoration of Jesus.
Celebration can include any of the following:
- Singing, dancing, shouting … let celebration erupt from your bones!
- LAUGH – We need to laugh more in life and be overcome with laughter at wholesome good comedy. This is an important discipline to master!
- Indulge in the unique aspect of humanity (created in God’s image) that is CREATIVITY and IMAGINATION! Draw, sculpt, create art, create music, enjoy the beauty of colors on a canvas or in nature, make plays with your family, act, write poetry / short stories… use your imagination for other examples!
- Enjoy the creativity of others.
- Make family and friend events into times of Christ-centered celebration and thanksgiving. Many families come together many times in the course of a year birthdays, marriages, graduations, holidays, church events, anniversaries, etc. Be intentional with familial intimacy.
- Celebrate big and “minor” events, like finishing a project, doing a good presentation, success at work or home, etc.
- Take advantage of festivals in your culture and community. Redeem the commercialism of many holidays and celebrations like Easter and Halloween. Take Christ into secular festivals.
- Serve and worship with your church family and immediate family.
The lesson… BE CREATIVE! The practice of the disciplines includes identifying and pursuing those things that bring the heart deep gladness and reveling in them before the Lord.
This frees us up because it gives us permission to celebrate Christ in so many activities of life. This is worship. This is celebration.
2 Corinthians 10: 3-6: 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
Celebration squelches bitterness, resentment, and criticism. You have to actively pursue repentance and reorienting your thoughts to Christ’s glory and goodness. This is discipline. This is an offering.
The God-Given Fruits of Celebration
- Keeping company with Christ regardless of situation or circumstance
- Living from a mentality of abundance rather than scarcity.
- Participating in the celebration and love of the Trinity.
- Rejoicing always in God who rejoices over us.
- Enjoying every good and perfect gift as coming from God.
- Living out of the joy of our salvation.
- Cultivating spirits of gladness and thankfulness.
- Freedom from the addiction to criticism or negativity.
- Having holiday traditions that guide and fuel our celebration.
1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole beingrejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
- What keeps you from celebrating God? What are you afraid of?
- When are you so excited about God that you just can’t contain yourself? If this never happens… perhaps you should explore why.
- How can you grow in your celebration of God?
- What are some unique ways your family can practice celebration?
- How can you simply laugh more in life!?
- How can you be more discipline in holding captive spirits of criticism and bitterness?
Books on Spiritual Disciplines
Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us by Adele Calhoun