The Art of Celebrating

“Mom, can we have a milkshake because  it’s Tuesday?”

We do celebrations in our family.  We celebrate first days and last days, pick-me-up treats on the hardest days, victory treats when we have a big win and  even sometimes just for trying.because we know trying requires courage.

My daughter has a competition this weekend, but I’ve already let her request her “celebration dinner,” whether she comes home with first place or last place.  We’re not saluting the prize, we’re saluting the effort, the time, the commitment, and being done, of course.

Our celebrations aren’t elaborate or Pinterest-worthy.  We make a special batch of cookies or stop in at 7-11 for a Slurpie, cook up a special dinner or maybe even get milkshakes for a “big” treat.  We “party” with family movie night and a bowl of popcorn or head to  a beach or a playground for some afternoon fun after a week of testing at school.  I’ve even been known to happy  dance in the kitchen occasionally, (which is instantly embarrassing to my children).

But that day, my daughter  climbed in the minivan after school and asked for a treat because it was Tuesday.

I finally gave in and asked, “Why are we celebrating Tuesday?”

“Oh, it’s just that Tuesdays are really busy days for  us and I think we just need a treat because it’s Tuesday and that’s all.”

Well, maybe we’re stretching our rejoicing habits a bit too far if we’re now celebrating specific days of the week just because they exist on the calendar.

I tease my daughter gently and call her the “queen of treats.”

Can we celebrate because we had  a good day?  Can we have a treat because we had a bad day?   Can we have a treat because…it’s Tuesday?

We all have a good laugh because this is who we are:  We’re celebrators and rejoicers.  We’re joy-seekers.

I love that God gives reason to rejoice.  Not just that, He compels us to rejoice.

In Romans, Paul tells us that we have peace with God because of Jesus. We’re justified by His blood and saved from  the wrath of God.  He reminds us we were God’s enemies and yet, because of Jesus’s death, we’re now reconciled with this perfect, holy  God.

But Paul tells us what is the greater thing.  We recognize His holiness and our need for  reconciliation.  We recognize we were enemies of God and yet now we have peace with God.  We recognize all of that….

and then…

we rejoice.

He says:

More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:11 ESV).

We rejoice because Jesus has done the work.  We believe in Him as our Savior, we place our faith in Him as our Lord, and He has reconciled us to the Father.

So, we don’t need to drag around shame; we can lift up praise.    We focus more on our Savior than we focus on our sin.

We are saved.

The note in my Bible says, “Christians GO BEYOND avoiding God’s wrath and actually rejoice in the same God who would pour out wrath on them were it not for Christ” (ESV Study Bible).

So, let’s go beyond. 

Our faith is about more than just avoiding the wrath of God; it’s celebrating the good news:  Jesus made us righteous by covering us with His righteousness.

And, God Himself rejoices.  Maybe recapturing the image of God and all of His joy reminds us to have joy, too.

 

He rejoices over His people:

I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and be glad in my people.
The sound of weeping and crying
will no longer be heard in her (Isaiah 65:19)

and He sings over us with gladness:

The Lord your God is among you,
a warrior who saves.
He will rejoice over you with gladness.
He will be quiet in his love.
He will delight in you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17 CSB). 

We are unworthy, and yet He loves us.  He finds joy and takes delight in us.

And it is His joy, His deep-hearted gladness, that we can cling to when we’re overwhelmed by our own sin.

In the book of Nehemiah, the people were moved to mourn when they heard Ezra the priest read from the law.  They saw all of their unworthiness and all the reasons for their exile.

Nehemiah and the other leaders redirected them:

This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep…today is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:9, 10). 

Rejoice today.  Celebrate.  Praise Him.

He loves you.   He died to save you.  Her rejoices over you. Such love deserves a celebration.

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