By, Kimberly Coombes
There’s nothing worse than a forgotten gift. These tragedies can happen from time to time during the holiday season. A small gift gets shoved towards the back of the Christmas tree, maybe even under the tree skirt, only to be found a few weeks later while decorations are being boxed up for next year. Perhaps, even worse, is the forgotten gift tucked away in the back of your closet that isn’t discovered until you begin dragging stuff out for Easter. All of the gift’s potential is still there, still waiting, just sadly, forgotten. One gift that is often forgotten is the gift of celebration.
Celebration? Really? It seems that the world is full of celebration, parties, or festivities; plus Scripture clearly teaches that we are not to be, “Conformed to this world: but be ye transformed” (Rom. 12:2). Certainly God has no desire that we party like the world, with drunkenness and immorality. Just because the world takes something good and perverts it, doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy what God originally intended.
Our God is a happy, joyous God. He celebrates things all over Scripture. He had His chosen people celebrate with feast and banquets throughout the Old Testament. Celebrations erupt in Heaven whenever someone comes to know Christ as Savior. Jesus frequently references a coming banquet in Heaven that no man should desire to miss. He speaks of feasting, dressing well, enjoying others, and communing with God. That’s a definite setup for a party to me.
Theologian Robert Hotchkins shares, “Christians ought to be celebrating constantly. We ought to be preoccupied with parties, banquets, feast, and merriment. We ought to give ourselves over to celebrations of joy, because we have been liberated from the fear of life and the fear of death. We ought to attract people to the church quite literally by the sheer pleasure there is in being a Christian.”
I believe that Hotchkins has it completely right. We can enjoy good things because we know that God is the source of them all.
Celebrations are important to God because they can bring so many good things into our lives. When we celebrate, we give ourselves a chance to stop our normal routines of life; we gather, we create memories, we rejoice, we congratulate, we share in the good, and honor significant moments in life.
So where have we gone wrong? Why do so many of our celebrations consist of stress, over planning, perfection seeking, and idealized images?
It’s because we have forgotten. We have forgotten how to invite people into our lives. We have forgotten how to find a cause for rejoicing. We have forgotten how to gather people in with open arms; how to feast, smile, laugh, sing, and dance.
My friends, don’t chase perfection, chase people.
Luke 14 shares the story of a banquet that is set and ready to go, yet when the invited guest decline to come, the celebration is not cancelled. The servants are sent out to find other guest, those who will come. They search and search, and bring guest after guest into the banqueting house where the festivities finally begin.
During this season of lights and gifts, shimmer and shine, please allow yourself the pleasure of truly celebrating this Christmas season.