After several minutes of spontaneous clapping, cheering, hugging, and even jumping up and down, a reverential hush fell over those of us packed into the small sanctuary. God had done it! He had provided abundantly more than we could even think or imagine.
God had led our small, but quickly growing congregation to embark on a new building project. We needed a pretty large sum of money to get started. Our church, in a small town outside Calgary, Alberta, included many seminary students and young families. Very few members really had any money, yet we stepped out in obedience.
We set a “loaves and fishes” date. The church would bring their offerings – money and pledges – and lay them on the altar. Then we would share a meal together while the offerings were counted. Children drug sacks of coins down the aisle, others committed their Christmas or vacation money, some gave education savings, but all gave. Even though the church gave sacrificially, logically there was no way we could give enough. But we stepped out in obedience and trusted God to provide.
We gathered after dinner to hear the report. When the pastor shared the amount of the offering the church verbally and physically celebrated over the amazing thing God had done. And when the awe of our incredible God came over us, worship joined our celebration.
To be honest, I never thought of celebration as a spiritual discipline until reading Richard Fosters Celebration of Discipline. Foster says:
“joy is the end result of the Spiritual Disciplines’ functioning in our lives.”
God’s transforming work produces joy in our lives. So, we will experience it as we obediently practice the spiritual disciplines.
However, joy or celebration is also itself a spiritual discipline. God commands us to be joyful. (See Philippians 4:4-9.) Those of us who have been redeemed have much to rejoice about. Celebrating what God has done for us honors Him and acknowledges His mercy towards us. We do not deserve what He has given us but still He lavishly poured out every spiritual blessing in Christ.
The ancient Israelites had regular celebrations to give God thanks for all He had done and provided. These kinds of celebrations not only turned their hearts toward God, it pointed others to Him as well. Today, we don’t always celebrate enough. It’s okay to let loose and celebrate all God has done! Sing, cheer, and clap. Applaud the One who is worthy of our praise.
Our small church in Alberta, Canada had reason to celebrate. God had blessed our obedience. And celebrate we did! We also told others about God’s goodness and many joined in our joy resulting in more glory to God.
Do you have something to celebrate today? How can you celebrate God and what He has done in your church and in your life?