…by Jessica Anderson, Administrative Coordinator for Everyday Mission
I’m originally from South Louisiana. If you’ve never been down there you really need to head on over. There’s a lot we often get wrong, but if there’s one thing we know how to do, it’s throw a party.
Cajun country has a unique and nearly constant celebration of life, even when things look extremely grim. I think it comes from a long line of celebrating during some of the darkest of times (no need to go into a history lesson, but there’s been some pretty rough times for Cajuns). There’s always a free festival happening, sure to include music, and you’ll always find people loudly singing and dancing, inviting you in to enjoy some food or to join a dance. It’s one thing I’ve always loved about the culture there.
Scripture is full of celebration and parties too! From the beginning when God rests in all the good that has come from His toil, to the celebrations of deliverance of Israel on many occasions. From the birth of Christ where angels sing in joyous chorus, to the amazing celebration that is to come when He returns for His church. I think God loves to see his creation enjoying life. Enjoying the fruits of their labor and celebrating with one another.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” We are called to celebrate. To celebrate life, to celebrate all God has given us. This celebration comes from one thing: a heart of thankfulness. Not only are we to celebrate, but because God has blessed us, we are called to invite others to the party. It’s in this heart that we create a culture of celebration in our lives.
I love the parable of the Great Banquet in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus had just spoken to those at an elaborate feast He’s been invited to about choosing humble places to sit instead of rushing to a seat of honor. He went on to explain that those who are prideful will fall and those that are humble will be lifted. Right after this, He begins to tell the following parable:
“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12-14, NKJ)
The celebrations of the Bible were designed by God to do two things: honor God and invite the outcasts of society into God’s family. They were to have more purpose than to make the host look good. I don’t think Jesus simply meant to run through the streets looking for people who seem out on their luck, inviting them to a party and then saying “peace out”. Instead, he was calling his people to live in such a way that they were building relationships with people society pushes to the fringe. That way when you celebrate you can invite them into the celebration.
We can often get caught up in creating the “perfect atmosphere,” but Jesus kept things simple. Gather with purpose. Be joyful, celebrate, and invite people to celebrate that otherwise may not have much reason to celebrate! So, how exactly do we put this into action? How can we create a culture of true celebration in our communities?
A few simple things you can do while planning:
- Have a community around you that has a heart of celebration. One that has thankful hearts, grateful for what they have, and excited and ready to share the things they have with others.
- Remember not every party needs to look perfect. Some of the best parties are spontaneous. Counters laden with takeout Publix containers and pizza boxes. Where guitars are pulled out, or ipods are put on in garages. Fun conversations abound and authentic community built through the celebration. That’s not to say there’s never a place for well planned parties (we see very specific and well planned celebrations throughout scripture), but when living in a culture of celebration remember that you can gather and celebrate under multiple circumstances.
- Consider using a celebration or two to raise funds for a specific cause God has placed on your heart. You don’t always have to wait for someone to create a Facebook fundraiser, or your pastor to start raising funds for a particular issue, or for a banquet for a non-profit you support. If you have a place you want to see blessed with donations, money, or even time, tell your friends about it. Gather, and celebrate life through giving!
There’s so much more to building a culture of celebration, but it’s a bit too much to fit into one blog. If you’re already building community you’re halfway there. Just celebrate life together every chance you get. Remember to include those in your area that others deem unworthy of including. Finally, laugh, love and as we say where I’m from in Cajun country, “Laissez les bon temps rouler”
“Let the good times roll”!