‘The king shall have joy in Your strength, O LORD; And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!’ (Psalm 21:1 NKJV)
When I think of the spiritual disciplines what usually comes to mind is spending a day fasting, spending time wrestling in prayer or intense Bible Study, or maybe sitting alone in deep contemplation and meditation. All of these things of course have their place and are valuable in our Christian journey, but one area that rarely gets mentioned as a discipline is celebration.
Throughout the Old Testament, especially at the designated festivals, God tells his people to rejoice, not as an optional extra but as a command. The Hebrew word for ‘rejoice’ in our text is gil which has the meaning ‘to spring about’(1) or to ‘spin around’(2) and conveys the idea of celebratory dancing at a party.
As the psalmist says God’s deliverance, his salvation, is a cause for our rejoicing with vigour and enthusiasm so much so that we spring about and spin around.
King David abandoned his dignity when he danced before the Lord with all his might when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem
(2 Samuel 6:14); should our celebration be any less for the salvation God has provided for us in in Christ? Somehow I think not as the father’s reaction in welcoming his son back home in Jesus’ parable was to throw a party, saying to his elder son
‘we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ (Luke 15:32).
The philosopher Nietzsche was once asked why he was so hostile to Christianity. His answer is somewhat surprising. He said,
‘I never saw the members of my father’s church enjoying themselves.’ Are our churches places of celebration? Is my life one of celebration? Is it time to rediscover the discipline of celebration?
When we celebrate we are not only demonstrating to God our gratitude and appreciation for his love, grace and salvation, but we are witnessing to a watching world, not least our own children, who will either view church as fun and exciting or will be bored to tears.
Church is a community that others should want to be a part of, so…
Come on and celebrate
His gift of love, we will celebrate
The Son of God who loved us
And gave us life.
We’ll shout Your praise, O King,
You give us joy nothing else can bring,
We’ll give to You our offering
In celebration praise.
Words by Patricia Morgan
Father may my life and the life of my church be a celebration of your love and a reflection of the joy only you can provide.
Have a celebratory week.
- Young’s concordance, p 802.
- Strong’s concordance, 1523.