What do you need to stop and celebrate?
“At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres.” Nehemiah 12:27
I’ve been thinking a lot about rhythms lately. Our God is one who set the world in motion with rhythms, and patterns and seasons. My husband asked me a lovely, thought provoking question a few weeks ago after listening to a podcast about seasonal and personal rhythms for our lives. He wanted to know what rhythms we have set up in our life, and which ones we hadn’t set up yet but wanted to?
One I’ll share with you today, because it’s my husband’s birthday! (Feel free to bother him on any or all social media platforms...) For us, October is a month of celebration. It’s both Jackson and I’s birthday month, and so we’ve made a rhythm of taking time to stop and celebrate in the month of October.
When we first got married, we both agreed that we loved being with one another more than anything else, and we value experiences over gifts. So we made it our tradition to go on a birthday trip every October. Some years it’s been a shorter weekend getaway, and this year we decided on a full ten day trip, but no matter what, it’s our October rhythm to stop and celebrate.
Most of us have seasonal rhythms, things that repeat annually, or traditions we look forward to as they roll around and mark an end of one thing and start of another. We also practice the Sabbath, so we intentionally slow our pace of life on Sundays as a spiritual discipline and rest as a weekly rhythm. Lately I’ve been challenged to think of celebration as a spiritual discipline, and I want to pass that challenge on to you.
Recently in a conversation with a friend, we were talking about the complexity of celebration in our daily life right now. There is a lot of heartbreak in the world. There are a lot of disappointed expectations.
There are a lot of hurting, let down, and lonely people, and yet, God still invites us to stop and celebrate in the midst of it all.
In Nehemiah, the people chose to leave the monotony of their daily lives, and to stop and celebrate. I did some research on this passage, and something that makes it even more fun, is that this wasn’t a command. God didn’t command them to celebrate. They just chose that this event, the dedication of the wall, was worth stopping and celebrating. Just like birthdays, I think God wants us to set up our own events in our personal lives and in our communities that we think are worth stopping and celebrating.
I imagine this celebration in Nehemiah was glorifying God as all the people let this celebration disrupt their daily lives. Celebration can be disruptive, and I think that’s why it takes discipline. It takes discipline for us to take time off from work and to book a vacation, or to travel to see family to gather over exciting news, or to go out and buy a nice dinner instead of cooking.
Allowing celebration to disrupt us, allows us to stop and see what God has done and give Him glory through our joy when we choose to celebrate.
It’s often easier to stay in our schedules, to get caught up in the routine, but I think God is inviting us to pause and take a look at the noteworthy things He’s doing, and celebrate. Even though other areas of our lives might feel messy or difficult, we can choose to say wait a minute, something just happened that I’m proud of or excited about and I think it’s worth stopping to celebrate it for God’s glory.
This passage makes me smile just thinking about the character of God. Not only is He a God who is honored by celebration, but He lets us choose what to celebrate. So, what are you going to celebrate today?
-Have you forgotten to stop and celebrate? Make a list of recent things in your life that are worth celebrating.
-How have you practiced celebration as a spiritual discipline in the past?
-What rhythms of celebration do you have set up in your life at a personal level?
Father thank you for being a God who is honored and glorified in our joy and celebration. Thank you for the simple joys, and the things you so generously give that are worth celebrating. Help us to honor you this week with hearts of celebration. May all of our celebrations point back to you. Amen.
Take note of something worth celebrating! Then, take action! Be intentional and disciplined in your celebration whether it’s a celebratory pumpkin spice latte or planning a huge block party.