Summary: Celebration is a needed spiritual discipline. We look at that in this message.
Spiritual Discipline: Celebration
May 30, 2021
There was a farmer who had a neighbor who was a chronic complainer, he could always find something wrong with anything. He was a cold, wet blanket on a cold night. So the farmer decided he would find a way to make this man smile. So the farmer bought the world’s greatest hunting dog, and trained it to do everything a person could imagine; then he invited his joyless neighbor to go hunting with him.
The farmer showed his neighbor how his dog could stand motionless for one hour, how his dog could pick up a scent from one mile away. There was no response by the neighbor. Finally, the farmer shot a duck, which landed in the middle of the lake. The farmer spoke to the dog, commanding the dog in a foreign language, then the dog ran to the edge of the water, stopped, then the dog walked on the water, picked up the duck, and brought the duck back to the farmer. The farmer asked his neighbor, “so, what do you think of that?” To which his neighbor replied, “So, your dog can’t swim?”
We all know people like that, don’t we? People who without even knowing it, or even understanding it, suck the life and joy right out of us. They’re kind of like black holes in outer space, once we enter their atmosphere, they suck us in and take the joy out of us.
This morning we’re going to look at the 3rd of the Spiritual Disciplines. The discipline of Celebration. We would never think of celebration as a spiritual discipline. It escapes our thinking and reasoning that we need to discipline ourselves to celebrate. I mean, shouldn’t that just be a natural part of life?
Yet, we learn it’s not, there are lots of people who don’t enjoy life. So, as we dig into the Spiritual Discipline of celebration the expectation is that we will use celebration as a means to help us draw closer to Christ.
So, what does it mean to celebrate? Is celebration, really something spiritual, which makes it a spiritual discipline?
Richard Foster wrote,
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 gaiety and a sense of thanksgiving.
Foster then adds, “Without joyous celebration to infuse the other disciplines, we will sooner or later abandon them. Joy produces energy. Joy makes us strong.”
I want to pick up on that theme for a moment. Have you ever tried to do something you really didn’t want to do? You go at it using your willpower, using your strength and energy, and it saps you of everything.
Foster’s point and I agree with him, is that without a spirit of joy, everything we do seems to take on dullness. If you don’t like school, in fact, it’s not fun to wake up in the morning and go. The same is true for work, and how about worship, which we will talk about at a later date, because that’s a spiritual discipline. How about coming to this building as a grump, with no joy, how much of yourself will you give to God.
The Bible is filled with passages in which God calls the people to celebrate. It seems strange that we should be commanded to celebrate, yet, maybe that is one of our issues in life, we forget and need to be reminded to celebrate.
In Nehemiah 8, we hear the vivid call to celebrate, as we read,
9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all,
"This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep." For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
10 Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.
This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for this is a sacred day. Do not grieve."
12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.
Nehemiah had led the nation of Israel in rebuilding the broken walls of Jerusalem. There was a great deal of opposition from within their own country, but Nehemiah led the people to complete this great building project. The work was finally completed and the people gathered together to worship God.