Do you think of worship, hospitality, or celebration as spiritual disciplines? If you’re like me, you associate the idea of “discipline” with things that are hard, like fasting, daily prayer, intense Bible study, and so on. But if a discipline is something that trains us to live and think rightly, then what better response to the resurrection can there be than over-the-top celebration?
In fact, celebration holds a place of honor in both of my top two books on spiritual disciplines. Richard Foster, in Celebration of Discipline, places celebration at the conclusion of his classic work, while Adele Ahlberg Calhoun puts Celebration at the very front of her Spiritual Disciplines Handbook.
Here’s what Calhoun writes about Celebration:
The world is filled with reasons to be downcast. But deeper than sorrow thrums the unbroken pulse of God’s joy, a joy that will yet have its eternal day. To set our hearts on this joy reminds us that we can choose how we respond to any particular moment. We can search for God in all circumstances, or not. We can seek the pulse of hope and celebration because it is God’s reality. Heaven is celebrating. Right now the cherubim, seraphim, angels, archangels, prophets, apostles, martyrs and all the company of saints overflow with joy in the presence of their Creator. Every small experience of Jesus with us is a taste of the joy that is to come. We are not alone — and that in itself is reason to celebrate. (Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, 27)
Here are a few ways that my family and I celebrated the resurrection of Jesus:
- Dressing up in new clothes (including new shoes for me)
- Attending a packed church, taking communion, and hearing a powerful message on the hope of the resurrection
- Singing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and the “Hallelujah Chorus” (and hearing perfect silence at that moment of tension before the final “Hallelujah”)
- Joining extended family and old friends for an Easter feast of lamb, ham, and too much sugar, all while being welcoming my principal role models of hospitality, my father- and mother-in-law
- Catching up – unexpectedly – with some good friends who have had a rough spring
- Puzzling over my 6-year-old’s sudden obsession over reading the Bible – and trying to decide whether it is sincere or not (and whether that matters)
- Delving into the study of God through conversation about justification and covenant
- For my wife, playing (and winning) some great board games with cousins and friends we don’t see nearly often enough
All in all, a great day of celebration. And I didn’t even mention the eggs.
How did you celebrate Easter?