Russell and Duenes

So That You Will Be Altogether Joyful

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Celebrate . . . rejoice before the Lord your God . . . you shall rejoice in your feast . . . so that you will be altogether joyful.” ~ Deut. 16

God here reminds His people of the feasts they are to celebrate each year: The Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths. These are to be a celebration, a remembrance of God’s deliverance and goodness to His people.

As God’s New Covenant people, we don’t have prescribed feasts that we are to observe, as Israel did. However, we do share the Lord’s table and remember what Jesus has done for us in the offering of Himself for our sins. And we certainly have cause for celebration as God’s chosen people. In Israel, the people were to celebrate before the Lord with what they had, “according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.” They offered up their produce and rejoiced in their feasts.

I wonder what we have to offer up, and what manner of celebration we might engage in as Christians today. I wonder if there are any traditions of celebration from our 2,000 years of church history which we might borrow from today. The church has indeed engaged in regular feasts throughout her history. We don’t seem to have much imagination for it. I know I don’t spend any real time thinking about it. Yet wouldn’t a celebratory people be more tightly bound together? More bound to each other in our common life of trusting God? And wouldn’t we identify ourselves more clearly as the “peculiar people” that we are? And might not our neighbors see us as a people worth joining, as “the stranger” did amongst the Israelites, as people who have cause for celebration in a broken world?

Dallas Willard says that “[w]e engage in celebration when we enjoy ourselves, our life, our world, in conjunction with our faith and confidence in God’s greatness, beauty, and goodness.” So he would prescribe feasting, dancing, singing, and oration as that which “makes our deprivations and sorrows seem small, and we find in it great strength to do the will of our God because his goodness becomes so real to us.” (Spirit of the Disciplines). Perhaps we could try to think of what part we might play in our local churches in bringing some form of celebration that does not now exist.


Written by Michael Duenes

October 25, 2014 at 4:08 am

Posted in Deuteronomy, Duenes

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