Celebration as a Spiritual Discipline

Our small group has been going through the spiritual disciplines this summer. Christianise translation: things you put in place to have a closer relationship to the Lord. There are several things that count as spiritual disciplines such as Sabbath, gratitude, & fasting. You’re probably thinking these all sound real religious, but when you break them down they are practical & helpful ways to shift your focus & perspective.

We started out with a long list & divided them up amongst our group. If you read the title then you already know that celebration is one! And obvi the discipline I chose. Can you believe that? God calls us to live lives of celebration! We were created for enjoyment & delight-isn’t that the neatest thing?

But why is it a discipline? Well because you don’t always feel like celebrating & discipline, though useful, is not always fun. Life is hard-there’s sickness and death, hearts break, injustice is real & the list goes on. I think we can all agree those are not reasons to celebrate. So why is celebration crucial to our spiritual health? Because God is our reason to celebrate. He has freed us from sin & death that so easily entangle us. He gives us life & grace & He is good. Celebration stems from gratitude & joy. Happiness is very much circumstantial and joy is a choice. And it isn’t that you celebrate the bad, it’s that you celebrate in spite of the bad.

“The very act of celebrating anchors us in a deeper story—one that precedes any current hardship or pain. God’s narrative goes back to the Garden when He formed us from the dust and called us into loving relationship with each other and with Him. It continued when Jesus became flesh and assumed all of our sin and brokenness so that we could enjoy fellowship with the Trinity. It will culminate in, yes, a celebration—the wedding feast of Christ with His bride, the Church.”

– Dorothy Greco

As I prepped to lead the discussion, I thought of some biblical examples of celebration. Jesus’ first recorded miracle was turning water into wine when they ran out at wedding (John 2:1-11). And then there’s also everyone who He healed that took to dancing in streets, telling everyone who’d listen (& probably some who wouldn’t) about this Jesus who knew them & healed them (John 4:1-42, John 9:1-41, Mark 2:1-12…just to name a very few!) . As part of my research I listened to a podcast on the topic & heard about this story in the Bible. Nehemiah was helping to rebuild the wall surrounding Jerusalem & was met with some opposition. So much so that the builders had to work with one hand, armed & ready to fight with the other. Well, they finished the build & one of the priests begins reading the law, aka the book of Leviticus. As you can imagine the people were exhausted. Nehemiah goes up to Ezra to chat & then turns to the people & says this is a holy day-let’s celebrate (Nehemiah 8:9-10)! The people turn their weeping into a rejoicing-filled feast.

Here’s 3 action steps to get you started in celebrating:

  1. Celebrate something this week big or small. You can do this with someone, for someone, or by yourself.
  2. Read this article. I found it super helpful & timely for this season.
  3. Listen to this album. It came out the same time as this article & still rings true.

It is not always easy or natural to feel like celebrating, but we always have a reason to celebrate. Someone once said “no occasion is too small to make it special”. 😉

I would love to hear how you choose to celebrate in spite! Leave a comment below!

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