Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Monday, August 23, 2010

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes

One of the biblical precepts I find hardest is the principal of celebration. I know. I'm weird. I don't enjoy Christmas. Birthdays worry me. Don't dare suggest a dinner party or more than a couple of guests. I'm just not a party girl. I loathe crowds, noise, excitement. Yes, even as a teen. I think my parents were a little concerned about my lack of socialisation but I've just never got it. Why do people do these things?

I understand prayer, meditation, worship. I get confession, silence & solitude. Submission, service, study, fasting? I get them all but when it comes to celebration I freeze. By the time the house is scrubbed, the food prepared [all that food! ugh!], the decorations in place, I'm exhausted & want nothing more than to curl up in a quiet corner & preferably go to sleep. What I don't want to do is try & keep up my end of a conversation over the noise & babel of a crowd of people bubbling over with excitement. Sad to say this is not a biblical attitude so I'm trying hard to get over it.

Celebration is built into the very framework of the bible. From the very first God set the stars & the sun & the moon in place to mark the seasons so that we would know the times of celebration.
Seriously, every time I think of the Jews piling into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover my insides curdle. All those people! Or the wedding at Cana! This was no cup of tea & a dry bickie at the end of an hour's church service. We're talking a good seven days here! Seven days! I'd be demented.

Leaving aside the fact I have, IRL, a quiet & reserved personality that enjoys the fruits of solitude & that is just my personality, what is the point of celebration? The first & most glaring point that comes to my mind is it exposes my selfishness. I just don't want to be bothered. All that fuss & to what end? But if I am serious about serving others, if I am serious about putting others first, if I am serious about following Jesus, I need to get over myself. Fast.

Secondly, it exposes my lack of understanding. Celebration is not about too much food & too many people, not when put into a biblical perspective. Celebration is about setting aside special times to acknowledge & remember the goodness of God & to rejoice in His sovereignty over us. It is a form of corporate worship when done right & I think it is a pity the church allowed the Jewish festivals to slip into disuse because, instigated by God Himself, they are immensely rich with symbolism & deeply profound. We found this this year when we did our Passover meal. My girls aren't little but even so they were surprised & blessed by the richness of the symbolism & how Christ was reflected in every aspect.

Thirdly, biblical celebration shifts our focus. It necessitates generosity, even in hard times. It involves hospitality. It requires thought & consideration for what will please & bless others. It means we have to consider the effective use of our time, plan ahead, set aside other plans. It reminds us that we are all God's children & should take pleasure in being His sons & daughters. For these reasons Richard Foster lists Celebration as one of the spiritual disciplines, because done properly it is as much a discipline as fasting or worship or prayer.

Fourthly, celebration cultivates a spirit of unity amongst believers. Now I need to clarify here because I have belonged to many churches that promoted *fellowship* meals & there was anything but a real sense of fellowship amongst the congregation. I believe the motives were wrong & the focus was on the wrong thing. When the focus is Christ the celebration is not about us ~ & that is a good thing!

Lastly, celebration is a discipline because it is a conscious choice to live our lives in a state of abandonment to God, with joy, acknowledging that every good thing comes from Him. This includes birthdays when we celebrate the life He has given us, marriages when we celebrate the mate He has chosen for us, funerals, when we give thanks that even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us. Celebration reminds us that our joy is in the Lord & He is our strength. It then allows us to live lives of grace & fulfillment because we are content with what it has pleased God to grant us.


seekingmyLord said...

Right now, every meal to me is a celebration. I suppose a long fast will do that.

Lovely post! All the planning and preparing also wear me, out so I share your sentiments, particularly this one: Thirdly, biblical celebration shifts our focus. It necessitates generosity, even in hard times. It involves hospitality. It requires thought & consideration for what will please & bless others.

Just lately, I am feeling a calling to invite people to my home for a meal now more than I ever have, difficult with my husband's unpredictable work schedule, but not impossible. I am so tired of the word "cannot" from others and even from myself right now. I want try it more things out to see if I "can."

Ganeida said...

Seeking: I love our fellowship Sundays. I dislike with extreme vigour the necessary preparation. And I am an awful hostess. I forget other people like to eat. lol

Amanda said...

Yayyyy!!! for the Feasts of the Lord. They are not Jewish feasts (as they get called), they are God's Feasts... He called for them, He went into great detail on how He wanted them observed, and they are indeed beautifully rich with symbolism which was the whole point of them... they all point to Yeshua!!

joyfulmum said...

oh Ganeida, you sound so much like me in personality:) I can so relate to this post! I've also had to learn the "discipline" of celebration and I can honestly say I now enjoy some of it but I still come away feeling rather tired! I think it's my introverted personality!

Ganeida said...

Amanda: If I say Jewish Feasts most people will get what I'm refering to. If I say *God's Feasts* it creates confusion, but I am with you. They are God's feasts!

jotfulmum: Yes, I think us introverts struggle more with celebration. We seem to be more at home with the less extroverted disciplines. ☺

Amanda said...

Ganeida, I realise this lol... wasn't meaning to correct you just adding it as fact :P :P :P

Amanda said...

ps. I am like you (and Rosemary)... I am not a fuss type person. Could never stand to have a birthday party for myself and am not a party/hype type person either. I love a good Godly get together though but those we ever have the privilege of attending are quite tame except for the roars of laughter. When most of the people in your church are Italian, with a few Fijian and the odd white Aussie, you can't help but have alot of joy and laughter! :D

Ganeida said...

Amanda, Amanda! Not upping you, my friend. Just trying to explain why I chose the wording I did. ☺ Your church sounds lovely.

Amanda said...

I know you weren't my darling! I understand completely lol... by the way, I haven't heard that term 'upping you' in absolute years! Brought a smile to my face :D

Ember said...

I feel exactly the same way, and find a lot of inspiration in celebration within a monastic setting - so a great feast can be celebrated by appropriate teaching and worship, and maybe an extra treat at snack-time.
When it was my birthday this year I decided to celebrate it with a quiet afternoon. Friends were invited, we started with a singing, then an hour or so in silence, folks dotted around the house to read or sit peacefully with simple food out in the kitchen to help themselves to, then we gathered for a eucharist-without-a-priest and to share what we found in the silence, then sat around and sang some more until people dispersed.
That way we got the celebration without all the inane banter and tense-making small-talk. Worked well.