This spring season has been filled with parties of every kind. A few that I personally have attended this season have included graduation commencements, graduation parties, birthday parties, engagement parties, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, end-of-the-semester parties, recitals, awards ceremonies and luncheons, a baby shower, an anniversary dinner, an honor ceremony and the list goes on. It has been a season of celebrating at every turn.
This has me thinking about why we celebrate? Why is it that, in our culture, almost every occasion comes with a party or celebration of some kind? Is it biblical? If so, how? All these questions led me to look through scripture to see if and why they celebrated different occasions, to better understand why we do or why we should.
One reason why there was a celebratory feast in scripture was to remember. Passover was a feast for the Israelites to remember when the Lord God caused the angel to pass over their houses and saved them from death. It was also to remember when He brought them out of slavery and into the promise land. In Exodus 12 it says, “”This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast,” (v. 14). They were instructed to keep this feast as a statute forever in remembrance of what the Lord God had done.
Jesus celebrated Passover many times throughout His life and ministry but on the last time, He tells His disciples to “do this in remembrance of me.” (Lk. 22:19) We partake in what is now called the Lord’s Supper in order to remember when the Lord saved us from death, brought us out of bondage and gave us new freedom through the shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross.
We also see in scripture that one of the reasons for celebrating was to observe an occasion, so that they could then be reminded of that mile-stone in the future. When Jerusalem became the capital and the temple was built, they gathered together to celebrate and observe this occasion around the temple. It became the center of worship. When the walls of Jerusalem were finished under Nehemiah’s supervision, they brought in the Levite’s (priestly tribe) in order to lead the celebration and dedicate the walls. It was a time of joyous celebration and observance of what the Lord had done, (Neh. 12:27-28).
Many celebrations today serve to observe or to mark a mile-stone in order to look back and remember what the Lord did there. When we go to weddings, it is the beginning of a covenant before the Lord and we celebrate as witnesses of this covenant. It also serves as a mile-stone to remember the faithfulness of God and the covenant that was made.
Another reason for a celebratory occasion in the Bible was to prepare. We spoke earlier of the Passover feast. For the duration of a week after the Passover feast, the Israelites would celebrate what was called the “Feast of Unleavened Bread,” (Ex. 12:17). During this time, they did not eat bread with yeast or even keep any yeast in their homes. In the New Testament, yeast often signified sin, or evil and this practice was believed to symbolically rid their homes of evil, (1 Cor. 5:6-8). Also, in the context of the exodus, eating bread without yeast signified the haste of their preparation to depart from Egypt.
Many celebrations that we observe today, such as bridal showers, or baby showers serve as preparation for what the future holds. A graduation is first celebrating the accomplishment of the graduate but many times the gifts we give also help to prepare the individual for what is next.
The Bible is full of celebrations! These are just a few examples of the many feasts and celebrations in scripture. We find that it is absolutely appropriate for Christians to participate and even initiate celebrations. Remember, it was a a wedding, where Jesus performed His first miracle. It is a part of our nature as Christ-followers to rejoice in what the Lord has done! Whether it is to prepare, observe, or remember we are called to celebrate. So in each season of celebrations, don’t hesitate to join in and rejoice in remembering the faithfulness of God.
Article Written by: Gillian Harper