Excerpt from Spiritual Disciplines Handbook
May the Son of God who is already formed in you grow in you — so that for you he will become immea­sur­able, and that in you he will become laugh­ter, exul­ta­tion, the full­ness oj joy which no one can take from you. ” — Isaac of Stella

God cel­e­brates. He invent­ed delight, joy and cel­e­bra­tion. And one way we enter into the divine life of the Trin­i­ty is through cel­e­bra­tion. Whether solemn or exhil­a­rat­ing, for­mal or spon­ta­neous, cel­e­bra­tion can enlarge our capac­i­ty to enjoy and serve God. Cel­e­brat­ing God does not depend on per­fect cir­cum­stances or hap­py feel­ings. Even in prison Paul and Silas found some­thing to sing about (Acts 16). And Jere­mi­ah, the weep­ing prophet, wrote:

My soul is down­cast with­in me.
Yet this I call to mind
and there­fore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not con­sumed,
for his com­pas­sions nev­er fail.
They are new every morn­ing.
—Lamen­ta­tions 3:20 – 24

Jere­mi­ah found rea­son to delight and hope in God even in a lament.

The world is filled with rea­sons to be down­cast. But deep­er than sor­row thrums the unbro­ken pulse of God’s joy, a joy that will yet have its eter­nal day. To set our hearts on this joy reminds us that we can choose how we respond to any par­tic­u­lar moment. We can search for God in all cir­cum­stances, or not. We can seek the pulse of hope and cel­e­bra­tion because it is God’s real­i­ty. Heav­en is cel­e­brat­ing. Right now the cheru­bim, seraphim, angels, archangels, prophets, apos­tles, mar­tyrs and all the com­pa­ny of saints over­flow with joy in the pres­ence of their Cre­ator. Every small expe­ri­ence of Jesus with us is a taste of the joy that is to come. We are not alone — and that in itself is rea­son to celebrate

To aban­don our­selves to cel­e­bra­tion can feel like a risky thing. What if we are mis­un­der­stood or seem to take hard things too light­ly? King David was so undig­ni­fied” in his cel­e­bra­tion of the Lord that his wife rebuked him for his pub­lic impro­pri­ety! But David replied, I will cel­e­brate before the Lord. I will become even more undig­ni­fied than this, and I will be humil­i­at­ed in my own eyes” (2 Samuel 6:21 – 22). Set your eyes on God as you cel­e­brate, and for­get how you look. God delights in all kinds of worship.

Reflec­tion Questions

  1. Where are you most prone to cel­e­brate God? Alone? With oth­ers? In wor­ship? In music? In nature? What does this tell you about how God made you and how you most nat­u­ral­ly meet with him?
  2. How is your cel­e­bra­tion enhanced or cur­tailed by your abil­i­ty to remem­ber the past, live in the moment or antic­i­pate the future? 
  3. When you see oth­ers cel­e­brat­ing God in a way that is new or for­eign to you, what goes on in your mind and heart? 
  4. If there is a heav­i­ness about you, an over­ly seri­ous side or an entrenched crit­i­cal spir­it, how might cel­e­brat­ing God affect these traits and move you into new areas of transformation? 
  5. Who do you know who real­ly cel­e­brates life and God? 
  6. What attracts you to them? 

SPIR­I­TU­AL EXERCISES 

  1. Iden­ti­fy the place you most read­i­ly con­nect with God. Is it in nature? lis­ten­ing to Chris­t­ian music? par­tic­i­pat­ing in cor­po­rate wor­ship? soli­tude? Go to that place. What do you want to tell God about the joy you receive there? 
  2. Inten­tion­al­ly place your­self in the pres­ence of God. Recall all of God’s gifts, pro­vi­sions, guid­ance and love toward you. • To cel­e­brate God’s grace to you, write a song of cel­e­bra­tion, make a col­lage that rep­re­sents your joy, write a poem of praise, play music and dance before the Lord, or mem­o­rize a verse of praise and repeat it all through the com­ing days. 
  3. Famil­iar­ize your­self with the church cal­en­dar. (If you don’t know about the church year, do a Web search for church cal­en­dar.”) • Con­sid­er ways you can go all-out in your cel­e­bra­tion of Lent, East­er, Pen­te­cost, Advent, Christ­mas, Epiphany and All Saints Day this year. Plan a way of cel­e­brat­ing God alone or with friends. 
  4. Attend to the peo­ple who give you joy. Ask God how you might cel­e­brate them in a way that encour­ages them. 
  5. Plan to cel­e­brate someone’s birth­day, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day in a way that reminds the per­son of how pre­cious he or she is to you and to God. 
  6. Con­sid­er how God loves you. Read Zepha­ni­ah 3:17. Then be still and lis­ten. How is God cel­e­brat­ing you? • Cel­e­brate the God who cel­e­brates you. Inten­tion­al­ly ask for the gift of appre­ci­at­ing your­self the way God does.

Tak­en from Spir­i­tu­al Dis­ci­plines Hand­book by Adele Ahlberg Cal­houn. ©2015 by Adele Ahlberg Cal­houn. Used by per­mis­sion of Inter­Var­si­ty Press, P.O. Box 1400, Down­ers Grove IL 60515 – 1426. www​.ivpress​.com

Text First Published October 2005 · Last Featured on Renovare.org May 2022

New Online Course: Liv­ing Inside the Lord’s Prayer

Author, teacher, and song­writer Car­olyn Arends pulls back the veil of famil­iar­i­ty to throw fresh light on the bril­liant­ly suc­cinct prayer Jesus taught his dis­ci­ples to pray. Launch sale: 30% off through May 17.

Watch the Trailer >