The Art of Celebration

How would you rate your love of Christmas? On a scale of 1-10, 0 being Scrooge and 10 being Buddy the Elf, where do you land?

In a year where nothing has been normal entering Advent may bring mixed feelings. What is even at the end? What will it look like? Will it be worth the hype of the 24 day count down? (25 if you got the expensive calendar). How will we celebrate?

In the face of the unknown, do we retreat into cynicism and resign ourselves to another bleak 2020 day, deflated by the circumstances, or we do press into something different?

Celebration can be synonymous with overdoing it, being out of control of ourselves, our eating, our drinking, our spending.

But celebration is actually a discipline. Something we have to train ourselves to engage in. It’s not a set of circumstances and it pushes against all our cynicisms.

The art of celebration is a choice ‘to set our mind on the higher things of life. It’s an act of the will. Which is why celebration is a discipline. It has to be consciously chosen as a way of thinking and living. When we choose this way the healing and redemption in Christ will break into the inner recesses of our lives and relationships and the inevitable result will be joy.’ (Richard Foster)

To really know celebration isn’t to become cynical of all that sparkles and looks full of cheer, taking the moral high ground, and spending Christmas in a cloister to stress how as Christians we shouldn’t partake in the pagan rituals.

To truly celebrate is to know freedom.

How free do you feel at Christmas?

Are you bound by expectations to be somewhere or something?

To spend a certain amount?

To eat the right things in the right setting wearing the right festive attire?

I feel myself having to bring back my attention to the things I stand for the other 11 months of the year: my ethics, my God given convictions, and to confront myself with how easily and quickly they can all go out the window in the name of ‘celebration’ in December.

Giving into our sin in the name of indulgence is not freedom; it’s carelessness. And rather than being free at Christmas, we can find ourselves bound even more to
idols of the heart. Our vices that we think will satisfy but which somehow always leave satisfaction just out of reach.

Or maybe you’re the opposite and want to abstain from all the Christmas festivities?
Where ever you land on the Scrooge / Buddy the Elf scale.

Celebration should be marked by freedom, not excess or abstinence.

We are free to celebrate. We are free to feast and enjoy, to taste and see the goodness of God.

As Christians it would be wrong to celebrate solemnly or with a poverty mindset. Saint Augustine said, ‘The Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot.’

There should be outward celebration because of the inward freedom we have through Jesus’s death and resurrection.

The art of celebration is a choice, when things don’t look how we want or expect, when we aren’t in control of the day or the season. It’s choosing to press into Jesus and the joy found in the self-forgetfulness it brings.

In letting go of the ‘things’ we are free to enjoy them again without the desperation for them to satisfy.

How different would your Christmas preparations and your festive period look if freedom was involved?

What can you say No to?

What can you say Yes to?

What needs letting go and what needs embracing?

How can you invite God to show you his freedom this Christmas?

Emily Williams