Holidays, birthdays, graduations, or other special occasions are probably what come to mind when you think of celebrating. And, those moments are pretty exciting. We enjoy having fun, giving gifts, eating food, and spending time with friends and family. Taking time for celebration might seem unrelated to our relationship with God, but it’s actually a deeply connected element of our spiritual lives. 

There are lots of different ways people celebrate in the Bible—from both the New Testament and the Old—that they use to deepen their relationship with God. They vary from formal feasts such as Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Booths (Deut 16) to spontaneous moments of joy such as David dancing before the Lord’s ark (2 Samuel 6), or Mary’s song after being visited by the angel (Luke 1). Celebrations weren’t always in direct response to something God had done; many were moments where they chose to celebrate, even if their circumstances weren’t ideal.



So what does this tell us about God? He enjoys it when we celebrate. It also tells us that he values rest. Rest doesn’t mean that we stop everything we’re doing and binge our favorite TV show (although, that’s fun too). Most of the time, it means taking a break from work, appreciating what God has provided, and using some of those resources to joyfully celebrate. The father from the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 shows us exactly what this looks like. When he had a cause for celebration—his son returning home—he immediately stopped what he was doing and used his assets to make good food and throw a party. And since the father represents God in this story, we know that he celebrates with us too! 



We can take joy knowing that God cares about our souls so much he wants us to stop, rest, and celebrate. In fact, Jesus wanted this so much for us, he was willing to give up his life: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). He doesn’t just want us to make it through the day, month, or year; he wants us to live abundantly in it. And when we learn to celebrate, we’re doing just that. Think of how you feel when you do anything you enjoy. Or when you appreciate something exciting that happened in your life or someone else’s. You feel joyful because God designed us to take time and bask in those moments. 



When we celebrate the things in our life, it opens our eyes to all the reasons we have to worship. St. Augustine said, “The Chris­t­ian should be an alleluia from head to foot.” While this might seem unrealistic wherever we are right now, when we make a practice of celebrating the things God has blessed us with, we might just be surprised by how worshipful we feel. It’s easy for us to focus on things that aren’t going well, but when we make a practice of celebration, it puts God’s goodness first and foremost in our hearts. Yes, there are some seasons where celebration feels impossible, and God is still with us in those moments. But any time that we can celebrate, we worship God for all that he’s done and will do.