The Soulful Celebration: A Sacred Practice in Our Faith Journey

Barely a few weeks ago, my husband and I were joyously leading the matrimonial ceremony for our eldest son. The day was nothing short of a grand feast with a hundred guests relishing the offerings under a mammoth tent at our doorstep. The celebration brimmed with laughter, tears, fond memories, barbecued delicacies, and the vibrancy of countless sunflowers.

Fast forward to our town’s 300th birthday, marked with parades, picnics, and an unforgettable finale of gold fireworks painting the sky. As the festive curtains drew to a close, there was a resonating sense of contentment and fulfillment, both physically and spiritually. And why not? Such celebratory occasions don’t just break the monotony or become an excuse to overindulge, they’re an opportunity to bask in God’s joy, remembering His benevolence and unwavering faithfulness.

The ritual of celebration to mark divine providence traces back to ancient times. When God saved His chosen people from impending doom, He left them with a directive to annually commemorate His fidelity (as in Exodus 12:14-20). The Jewish community, thus, celebrates Purim, Passover, Chanukah, and many more festivals, each embedded in a divine command to remember God’s mercy.

In our fleeting memories, we tend to overlook the countless times God has blessed us with His gifts, especially when we’re in the midst of life’s adversities. It’s during these times that celebrations play a pivotal role in our spiritual journey. They serve as a reminder of the larger divine narrative that encompasses our present struggles and pains.

God’s eternal story started in the Garden of Eden and found its continuation in Jesus Christ, who assumed all our sins to facilitate our communion with the divine Trinity. This magnificent narrative will reach its zenith in the ultimate celebration – the holy matrimonial feast of Christ and His Church.

The prevalence of weddings and celebratory feasts in God’s grand tale is no mere coincidence. Such occasions allow us to look back in gratitude while simultaneously fostering hope for the future. They ground us in faith, dispelling fear, cynicism, and doubt.

I recall asking a friend living amidst the Ebola crisis in Monrovia, Liberia, if there was room for joy and celebration despite their tribulations. His reply was enlightening, “Even during the bleakest times, the joy of God gives us strength. More people are seeking Him. Churches are teeming with worshippers, and the celebrations are magnificent. The joy of God, rooted in faith, can triumph over the impossible.”

Celebration, thus, emerges as a crucial spiritual discipline, especially amongst believers living in dire circumstances or battling grave obstacles. You will witness an unparalleled spirit of worship in them, an unwavering faith rooted in their recognition of dependence upon God.

Let us remember, however, that celebration is not an escapist’s ploy. It doesn’t magically erase our difficulties. Our town’s debates over tax hikes didn’t dissolve post the fireworks; neither did the Ebola crisis vanish after Sunday prayers in Liberia. But, intentional celebrations lift our spirits, foster community, and nurture gratitude within us.

The Irish band, Rend Collective, beautifully encapsulates this notion in their uplifting video. As the band leader, Gareth Gilkeson, eloquently puts it, “Joy is a spiritual discipline. We are naturally inclined towards negativity and cynicism, which is why we must strive for joy. The Gospel gives us a reason to celebrate before a king who loves celebrations. We need to embrace the serious business of joy. We must fight for our joy.”

Hence, let’s not wait for monumental occasions to celebrate. Even the little victories—a new job, relationship reconciliations, or just another anniversary—are reasons enough to unite, remember God’s grace, and immerse in His profound and transformative joy.