Celebration Requires Sacrifice, You Need It Anyway
Last week, I attended a caroling party. I think it’s safe to assume that you have not had any harmonious visitors approach your door with glad tidings to share. If you live in the Denver Highlands, however, you may have been one of the lucky ones.
We were about twenty adults and two babies. With hot cocoa in hand, we practiced a few tunes and headed out to greet our unsuspecting audience.
Each house had a different response. Some weren’t home. Some came outside to listen. Two people closed their doors on us. At my favorite house, we were greeted by a young man. His wife quickly followed holding a very tiny baby. We could tell that she was a bit emotion and after we finished the song she yelled joyfully to us, “We just brought her home today!” Ok, let’s be honest, that encounter was worth the who adventure.
Overall, we received a completely mixed reaction but had an AWESOME time. I arrived at the party in a terrible mood but by the time I left was filled with your cliché “holiday cheer”.
A week later I am still contemplating the spectrum of our encounters. What is it that makes one choose to be joyful? Why is it that some people could be lenient with us? Some could smile as we sang “O Come All Ye Faithful” even if they weren’t faithful Christians and yet others could not bestow the same generosity. Every child that we met asked us to sing another song. Why are children so much more receptive to acts of a playful nature and why do adults lose that ability?
I do not know the answer to all of these questions but I must observe that as we continue to let go of belief in real truth, we also let go of deep culture and common celebration. Considering my bad mood upon arriving at the party, I can only think of the command, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise”.
That’s right. A SACRIFICE of praise.
We don’t always want to be joyful. We don’t always want to enter into celebration. Given the circumstances of our lives and our world, it can sometimes seem frivolous. As we become more focused on productivity, it seems as though that stopping to truly celebrate the present would hinder us from reaching our full potential. And yet, as we continue into this postmodern, post-Christian society, true belief demands our celebration even when it is a sacrifice.
Think about it, most major holiday celebrations are a commemoration of faith or ideas in one way or another. The fourth of July is truly a celebration of freedom. Christmas is a celebration of the incarnation, that man could not get to God so God came down to man in the form of a baby. It was at this moment that the soul felt its worth. Eid-ul-Adha is the Muslim holiday that commemorates the prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for Allah. Even when we celebrate something as simple as a birthday, we are celebrating our belief that life is a gift which we are honored to have been given.
As we drove away from our festive evening of song, I tried to imagine a street around Christmas void of lit houses. I tried to imagine a world where true faith was replaced by progress and celebration became obsolete because “you do you” is not a cause for celebration. There is no story of greatness, nothing to overcome, no beauty of salvation if each of us is our own god who dares not offend the god standing next to us.
The human spirit NEEDS joy, we as a community NEED celebration and we need to hold on to true faith because it is simply a fact that the material world void of the spirit does not ascend the soul. Praise and all that goes with it IS a sacrifice, but it is one that we MUST continue to make.
Question: What keeps you from entering into true celebration of any kind? What makes you want to celebrate?