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The Practice of Celebration

How much thought have you given to the practice of celebration in your life? Naomi Cramer Overton sharpens our focus on this important pursuit.

Elisa


 

The Practice of Celebration

By Naomi Cramer Overton


I sat in church, its musty scent lingering from all the days my siblings and I filled a back pew. The minister passed a basket with star-shaped pieces of paper, each bearing a word of hope. I chose a star and, when I turned it over, I wondered if it chose me: Celebrate.


“Thou shalt celebrate.” Surely, that’s not one of God’s commands. Or is it? God gave his people fifty-two Sabbaths and eighteen festival days. That’s seventy days a year to rest, gather, give, feast, and rejoice. Why?


Is it about us—because we need it? Yes. I certainly need it. I struggle, working late on too many nights. For the love of family, I work at working less and celebrating more.


But it’s also more than that. These celebrations display God’s good plan. And in his plan, we find our own. I like what John J. Parsons says about the annual festivals:

“God’s eternal plan is ingeniously revealed through the seven annual Feasts: [Jesus] was crucified on Pesach [Passover], buried on Unleavened Bread, raised on First Fruits and sent the Ruach Hakkodesh [Holy Spirit] on Shavu‘ot [Pentecost]. [We] have not yet seen the fulfillment of feast number five—Trumpets.”


What we now celebrate in part, God will one day complete. This is previewed in Revelation 11:15: “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: ‘The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.’”


Celebrating helps us focus on a Kingdom calendar—God’s plan to guide our planner. As we celebrate with a view to our destiny, our calling for today comes into focus too. *


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I did research on the feasts as part of a devotional project for a new Bible. I was astonished to learn that the festivals mark where we are going next (the Festival of Trumpets, when Jesus returns). But I was most challenged by the command to commemorate so many days each year.


So how do we celebrate as a lifestyle? Three Bible commands for celebrating include: rest completely, give offerings, and assemble.


Rest completely. In recent months, I confess I have not even managed a weekly 24-hour Sabbath. I find myself on a sabbatical trip, writing this while overlooking one of the world’s loveliest lakes—a playground for emperors like Napoleon and movie stars like George Clooney. I’m learning to say, “Good enough,” even while writing this, rather than toil for hours. Saying “enough” frees time to rest.


Give offerings. Like many of us, I now give online. While it helps me stay on top of tithing, I’m missing out on bringing my offerings in person. As a child, I found delight in putting coins in the bread-shaped piggy banks that my church’s denomination gave out. I waited for them every year and couldn’t wait to start plunking coins in, day by day. And I loved returning it to the church—full.


Assemble. How often do we get together—outside of a worship service—with fellow Jesus-followers to celebrate? It sounds fun, actually, and my small group already ties dinner into our monthly Bible study. So this one I see a way to incorporate into my life. I can invite people over, saying, “I’d love to hear what God is up to in your life.”


Celebrating matters to God, so I want to live like it matters to me. As I return from this sabbatical trip, I want to take these practices—rest, give, assemble—with me. Souvenirs that don’t take up more room in my already packed luggage that can address my overly packed life. Thank you, God, for being a God who made us to celebrate.

 

*First part of blog excerpted from “Celebrating toward Our Destiny,” NLT Every Woman’s Bible, page 159. Used with permission, Tyndale House Publishers.


John J. Parsons, “The Jewish Holidays—A Simplified Overview of the Feasts of the LORD,” https://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Introduction/introduction.html



Naomi Cramer Overton, MBA, DIS, lives to realize beauty-filled visions that lift us to flourish, with our families and beyond. Naomi has been CEO for Stonecroft and MOPS (now the MomCo), director with Compassion International and World Vision, and General Editor for the NLT Every Woman’s Bible from Tyndale.

 


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