‘This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord – a lasting ordinance. 15 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day until the seventh must be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.
17 ‘Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 18 In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19 For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. 20 Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.’
In his excellent book ‘Celebration of discipline’, Richard Foster wrote about the spiritual discipline of ‘celebration’ (alongside other more familiar disciplines such as prayer, worship, fasting, confession etc). More recently, his son Nathan also wrote a more personal story of his own journey with the disciplines in a book entitled, ‘The making of an ordinary saint.’ Here are some of his comments about celebration:
“The spiritual discipline of celebration leads us into a perpetual jubilee of the Spirit. We are rejoicing in the goodness and the greatness of God. As Saint Augustine said, “The Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot.“…
Perhaps the most important benefit of celebration is that it saves us from taking ourselves too seriously. It is an occupational hazard of devout folk to become stuffy bores. Celebration delivers us from such a fate. It adds a note of gaiety, festivity, and hilarity to our lives.
Celebration gives us perspective on ourselves. We are not nearly as important as we often think we are, and celebration has a way of bringing us the needed balance. The high and the mighty and the weak and the lowly all celebrate together. Who can be high or low at the festival of God? Together the rich and the poor, the powerful and the powerless all share in the goodness of God. There is no leveller of caste systems like festivity.
Celebration is not just an attitude but also something that we do. We laugh. We sing. We dance. We play.”
In verse 17 we read “Celebrate…because…”
In each ordinary day there are so many reasons to celebrate, if we can but see them. Maybe that is why Dallas Willard told John Ortberg, ‘You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.’ There are certain things we only notice when we slow down sufficiently to be able to appreciate them.
Someone wrote about the person who ‘when he talks his talk is forever about somewhere else, something else. He’s here but he’s not here. He rejects the here, is unhappy with it, wants to be farther up the trail but when he gets there will be just as unhappy because then the it will be ‘here.’ What he is looking for, what he wants, is all around him, but he doesn’t want that because it is all around him. Every step’s an effort both physically and spiritually because he imagines his goal to be external and distant.’ (Quoted by Henri Nouwen in ‘The Genesee Diary’, p.8).
I know I can be that person at times. But the truth is there is so much of God’s goodness to celebrate right here, right now.
PRAYER: Lord, please forgive me for all that I miss right under my nose! Help me to see and savour your goodness in every single day.