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What Is Celebration?

Learning to experience deep joy in every moment of our lives

Q: What is celebration? Isn't it more than throwing parties?

A: Many of us gravitate toward ideas like discipline, sacrifice, and suffering in a way that Christ suffered, but we're somehow uncomfortable with the idea of deep joy. Yet when we look at the biblical pattern of festivals, feasts, and psalms, we see rejoicing people relishing the deep gladness of being alive and of being one of God's children. God made an extraordinary world for us to live in! To deny the beauty of that—to miss out on truly experiencing it and celebrating it—is a real loss, especially for Christians.

Celebration, at its core, is the practice of choosing to be truly present in the moments in our lives. Jesus didn't live at a pace in which he was so preoccupied with his agenda that he didn't connect with what was happening in the lives of the people around him. And he wasn't so bent out of shape about what was wrong in the world that he couldn't stop and notice what was good. Enjoying a wedding feast, sitting with Mary listening at his feet, spending time with children—in all these moments and many more, Jesus was present to the sacred things happening in everyday life.

Yes, celebration can involve going out to eat, fireworks, candles on a cake, loud music, and laughter. But more than that, it's about being present to what is, noticing the good that still exists even in the middle of the broken. It's choosing hope. It's trusting that you'll find something beautiful, redemptive, and sacred even when it looks like that's an impossible task. Life is wild, chaotic, beautiful, and sacred all at the same time. I've learned that celebrating in the midst of that wildness and chaos makes the beauty and the sacredness much clearer. That's one of God's greatest gifts.

What does celebration mean to you?

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Shauna Niequist is an author, wife, and mother based in Chicago. Follow her on Twitter @sniequist. Excerpted from The Everyday Matters Bible for Women.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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