Spiritual Discipline // CELEBRATION
By Andrea Larson
Summers generally bring with them a flurry of celebrations of all kinds – from backyard cookouts to weddings to Fourth of July fireworks shows. Our spirits yearn for these good times and for the long, warm days that summer typically brings. But this summer it will be decidedly different. Celebrating will most definitely be happening, but our get-togethers will feel even sweeter after nearly a year and a half of being separated to varying degrees by the pandemic. So, although we are not back to “normal” yet, the increased opportunities we have to gather safely are going to feel like heaven on earth!
Yesterday, we had a whole day with our good friends, Mike and Bobette, doing a backyard project and eating meals together. I literally felt refreshment wash over my soul to share life again in person and not over a Zoom meeting. Finally…. it’s time to be merry! But… what about the other disciplines that we have been cultivating? To remind ourselves, this year we have been studying, discussing and practicing the disciplines of simplicity, fasting, silence, solitude, study, self-examination, prayer, gratitude, service, intercession, spiritual gifts, confession, and submission… alongside celebration.
Richard J. Foster, the author of the excellent and useful book titled, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth says this:
“Celebration gives us strength to live in all the other disciplines. When faithfully pursued, the other Disciplines bring us deliverance from those things that have made our lives miserable for years which, in turn, evokes increased celebration. Thus, an unbroken circle of life and power is formed.”
Wow – that is profound. Continuing to follow the other spiritual disciplines, will actually give us MORE reasons to celebrate, instead of depriving us from celebration.
So as the summer and vacation days approach, keep in mind that it is not a good idea to abandon the other disciplines in favor of celebration alone. Continue reading the Word, continue praying, continue gathering with our New Hope family. Have fun and remember that Jesus’ first miracle was performed at a party!
“Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!”Psalm 150: 1-6
1. Read John 2: 1 -12. Why do you think Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding party? What does it tell you about him?
2. Think about the Richard J. Foster quote above. Think of a time when your practice of spiritual disciplines led you to a celebration at a later date. Perhaps spiritual fasting helped you break a food addiction that led to greater health. Perhaps you spent time in daily self-examination that led to confession and eventual restoration of relationship with someone important in your life. Perhaps you committed yourself to simplicity, which freed up time in your schedule to have more fun with your children.
3. As we break from “official” meetings of community groups this summer, invite someone over for a meal or just to sit and talk. Invite a friend or neighbor to one (or all!) of our New Hope BBQs (or cookouts or grilling sessions as Pastor Chris reminded us!)