Celebration (Spiritual Disciplines Study)

Corporate Disciplines


  • Augustine of Hippo
    • The Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot!
  • Celebrations is at the heart of the way of Christ. 
    • He entered the world on a hight note of jubilation.
      • Luke 2:10
        •  10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people
    • He left the world conveying his joy to the disciples
      • John 15:11
        • 11 “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
    • The carefree spirit of joyous festivity is absent in contemporary society. Apathy, even melancholy, dominates the times. Havey Cox says that modern man has been pressed “so hard toward useful work and rational calculation he has all but forgotten the joy of ecstatic celebration…”
  • Celebrations Gives Strength to Life.
    • Celebration brings joy into life, and joy makes us strong.
      • Nehemiah 8:10
        • 10 Then he said to them, “Go and eat what is rich, drink what is sweet, and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, since today is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
    • Celebration is central to all the spiritual disciplines. Without a joyful spirit of festivity the disciplines become dull, death-breathing tools in the hands of modern Pharisees. Every discipline should be characterized by carefree delight and a sense of thanksgiving.
    • Joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit. Without joyous celebration to infuse the other disciplines, we will sooner or later abandon them. Joy produces energy. Joy makes us strong.
    • Ancient Israel was commanded to gather together three times a year to celebrate the goodness of God. Those were festival holidays in the highest sense. They were the experiences that gave strength and cohesion to the people of Israel.
  • The Path to Joy
    • In the spiritual life only one thing will produce genuine joy, and that is obedience.
      • Luke 11:27-28
        • 27 As he was saying these things, a woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the one who nursed you!” 28 He said, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.”
        • It is a more blessed thing to live in obedience to have been the mother of the Messiah
    • Hannah Whitall Smith
      • Joy comes through obedience to Christ, and joy results from obedience to Christ. Without obedience joy is hollow and artificial.
    • To elicit genuine celebration, obedience must work itself into the ordinary fabric of our daily lives. Without that our celebrating carries a hollow sound.
      • For example, some people live in such a way that it is impossible to have any kind of happiness in their home, but then they go to church and sing songs and pray, hoping that God will somehow give them an infusion of joy to make it through the day. They are looking for some kind of heavenly transfusion that will bypass the misery of their daily lives and give them joy.
        • But God’s desire is to transform the misery, not bypass it.
    • Joy is not found in singing a particular kind of music or in getting with the right kind of group or even in exercising the charismatic gifts of the Spirit, good as all these may be. Joy is found in obedience.
    • Celebration comes when the common ventures of life are redeemed.
    • Scripture commands us to live in a spirit of thanksgiving in the midst of all situations; it does not command us to celebrate the presence of evil.
  • The Spirit of Carefree Celebration
    • Philippians 4:4-8
      • 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.
    • Matthew 6:25
      • 25 “Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?
    • Christians are called to be free of care, but we find such a way foreign to us.
    • The spirit of celebration will not be in us until we have learned to be “careful for nothing”. And we will never have a carefree indifference to things until we trust God.
    • If we fill our lives with simple good things and constantly thank God for them, we will be joyful, that is, full of joy. And what about our problems? When we determine to dwell on the good and excellent things in life, we will be so full of those things that they will tend to swallow our problems.
  • The Benefits of Celebration
    • Far and away the most important benefit of celebrations is that it saves us from taking ourselves too seriously.
      • After all, Jesus rejoiced so fully in life that he was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton. Many of us lead such sour lives that we cannot possibly be accused of such things.
      • Celebration helps us relax and enjoy the good things of the earth.
    • Celebration also can be an effective antidote for the periodic sense of sadness that can constrict and oppress the heart.
      • Depression is an epidemic today and celebration can help stem the tide. (Not making lite of the idea of counseling)
    • Another benefit of celebrations is its ability to give us perspective
      • We can laugh at ourselves
      • We come to see that the causes we champion are not nearly so monumental as we would like to believe.
      • In celebration the high and the mighty regain their balance and the weak and lowly receive new stature.
      • Thus freed of an inflated view of our own importance, we are also freed of a judgmental spirit.
    • Finally, an interesting characteristic of celebration is that it tends toward more celebration. Joy begets joy. Laughter begets laughter.
  • The Practice of Celebration
    • One way to practice celebration is through singing, dancing, and shouting.
      • What do little children do when they celebrate? They make noise, lots of noise.
      • When the children of Israel had been snatched from the clutches of Pharaoh by the mighty power of God, Miriam the prophetess led the people in a great celebrations dance. 
      • David went leaping and dancing before the Lord with all his might.
      • Singing, dancing, and noise-making are not required forms of celebration. They are examples only, to impress upon us that the earth indeed is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. We are free to celebrate the goodness of God with all of ourselves.
    • Laughing is another way we practice celebrations
      • The old adage “Laughter is the best medicine” has a lot going for it.
      • Why not! Jesus had a sense of humor—some of his parable are positively comical.
      • Poke fun at yourself. Enjoy wholesome jokes and clever puns. Relish good comedy. Learn to laugh; it is a discipline to be mastered. Let go of the everlasting burden of always needing to sound profound.
    • A third way to encourage celebration is to accent the creative gifts of fantasy and imagination.
      • Harvey Cox
        • There was a time when visionaries were canonized, and mystics were admired. Now they are studied, smiled at, perhaps even committed. All in all, fantasy is viewed with distrust in our time.
      • Only those who are insecure about their own maturity will fear such a delightful form of celebration
    • Relish the creativity of others
    • Another thing we can do is to make family events into times of celebration and thanksgiving
      • We can also celebrate lesser, but equally important events like finishing a major project, securing a job, receiving a raise. In addition, why not from regular rituals of celebration that are not connected with special events. Set up regular times to play games or to watch movies or read books together. Turn visits to relatives into celebrations of your relationship. 
    • A fifth thing we can do is to take advantage of the festivals of our culture and really celebrate.
    • Celebration gives us the strength to live in all the other disciplines. When faithfully pursued, the other disciplines bring us deliverance from those things that have made our lives miserable for years which, in turn, evokes increased celebrations. Thus, an unbroken circle of life and power is formed.
  • We have come to the end of this study, but only to the beginning of our journey. We have seen how meditation heightens our spiritual sensitivity which, in turn, leads us to prayer. Very soon we discover that prayer involves fasting as an accompanying means. Informed by these three disciplines, we can effectively move into study which gives us discernment about ourselves and the world in which we live. 
  • Through simplicity we live with others in integrity. Solitude allows us to be genuinely present to people when we are with them. Through submission we live with others without manipulation, and through service we are a blessing to them.
  • Confession frees us from ourselves and releases us to worship. Worship opens the door to guidance. All the disciplines freely exercised bring forth the doxology of celebration.
  • The classical disciplines of the spiritual life beckon us to the Himalayas of the Spirit. Now we stand at timber line awed by the snowy peaks before us. We step out in confidence with our Guide who has blazed the trail and conquered the highest summit.

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