By Guest Writer
Throughout the pandemic, I have attended some very strange parties! There was the drive-by graduation party, the driveway baby shower, and my favorite of all, the tailgate wedding. We may have shut down temporarily, but it seems we cannot stop marking milestones and honoring accomplishments. It’s as if there is something deep inside our souls that recognizes the human need to celebrate. There is a reason for that—it was put into us by God.
From the first book of the Bible to the last, we see God celebrating. In Genesis 1, God creates the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rests (Genesis 1:31–2:3). We get the sense that God was setting aside the seventh day to look upon His creation and enjoy it. The seventh day was, in a very real sense, a celebration of creation, and in doing this, God was writing celebration into the structure of our existence.
God’s people, Israel, understood this. Throughout the Old Testament, they practice God’s priority of celebration by establishing multiple annual feasts—Passover, Pentecost, First Fruits, Sukkot—each of which was a time to pause from work, give thanks to God, and delight in His gifts. Celebration was an integral part of their lives.
Then came Jesus, who was born into this rhythm of celebration. Not only did angels celebrate His birth with splendor and fanfare, proclaiming “good news of great joy that [would] be for all the people” (Luke 2:10), but Jesus’s first miracle was at a wedding celebration (John 2:1–11), and His last meal was the Feast of Passover (Matthew 26:17–30). Both Jesus’s life and ministry were bookended by celebrations. And so is God’s Word. Just as it begins with the celebration of creation, it ends with a celebration in Revelation, which depicts the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19).
What are we to make of this? What are we to make of the fact that celebration is woven throughout Scripture, that it is meant to structure the lives of God’s people, and that it even defines the life and ministry of Jesus? First, it tells us what God is like. God is not stingy, work-driven, or overly serious. God is joyful, easy to delight, and extravagant in His love.
Second, because we are made in the image of God, we can conclude that God created us to celebrate as well. Celebration is one way we imitate God and become more like Christ. Practically speaking, this kind of celebration means actively remembering and enjoying the goodness of God in our lives. Whether it is another year of life, another year of marriage, another year of sobriety, or another baby born, we are celebrating the gift, yes, but also the Giver. We are celebrating the generosity and faithfulness of God.
This is the discipline of celebration, and when we do this regularly, it forms us. It cultivates joy. It proclaims the character of God. And it makes us more like Christ.
Written by Sharon Hodde Miller