The month of December is often a time of reflection as we approach the end of the year. It is also a time of celebration as we take time to remember the birth of Jesus.
Reflecting on the year of 2019, I came to realize that it was pretty significant for me and one which was worthy of celebration. First off, I self-published my first book in Kindle on March 1st of this year and later published it in print on June 6th. My friend and writing coach, Beth Jones, came over 20 miles to help me with the final step of pushing publish on KDP through Amazon. I think that she was more excited than I was. After I hit publish, we went out to our favorite Mexican restaurant to celebrate. When Beth met me at the restaurant, she came in with celebratory gifts for me, including flowers and a small statuette. We celebrated heartily, to say the least.
The following September, I had two other celebratory events take place. At the first event, my husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. The second one was a milestone birthday for me. To celebrate my husband and I decided to go to both southern Spain and to Israel. We spent 10 days in a beachside town on the Mediterranean. Things we did in Spain to celebrate were strolling in the moonlight on the boardwalk alongside the beach, drinking sangria in a beach restaurant, drinking cupa de leche ( Spanish version of an expresso latte) at the cafe around the corner from the flat we rented, and me dipping my toes in the Mediterranean ( Dan took more than a dip). We celebrated countless ways.
Then in Israel, we went to a resort on the Dead Sea for a few days, also went to my favorite spot in Jerusalem on my birthday, had lunch with some old friends at a restaurant in the open-air market in Jerusalem and a friend who lives in Jerusalem made a chocolate birthday cake for me.
The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines celebrate as “to do something special or enjoyable for an important event, occasion, holiday, etc.” On each of the above occasions, I celebrated in multiple ways and usually with another person. We all had a great time, celebrating and remembering how we got to that point in time. We each enjoyed the moment.
But why do we celebrate? It certainly feels great to celebrate. I think that there is more involved than mere enjoyment though. I believe it was God’s idea to have celebrations. In fact, He had the Israelites have multiple celebrations throughout the year. These feasts often related to a time they needed to remember something significant in their history. There were three feasts which God commanded them to celebrate. They were required to go to Jerusalem on these occasions, the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover), the Feast of Pentecost (the giving of the Law) and the Feast of Tabernacles (the 40 years in the Wilderness). God even told them to use their tithes from their harvest for the means to celebrate. Some years, their tithe was to be given to the Levites or to the poor so that they could go up to Jerusalem to party. (see Deuteronomy 4: 26-29).
I believe that God wants us to remember and celebrate the significant times in our lives. The angels who announced the birth of Jesus told the shepherds in the field to rejoice. Rejoicing is a form of celebrating. In the New Testament, Jesus told His disciples in John 10:10;
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Jesus was not stingy with His celebrating either. He often was seen celebrating or partying with the people who followed Him. Jesus went to Zaccheus’s house to celebrate His friendship with him (Luke 19. 1-10 )He went to a wedding party and turned the water into wine (John 2: 1-11). Jesus liked to have a good time with the people who followed Him while He was on earth. In fact, the religious leaders of His day condemned Him for it (Matthew 9:11).
This time of year, we need to reflect upon the birth of Jesus and celebrate with friends and family. At Christmas, we celebrate His birth. We do things to remember His birth like giving gifts to our loved ones as the wise men did to Jesus, and spending time with family. Also, we count down to the day that we remember His birth by reading Advent devotionals, lighting Advent candles and following an advent calendar.
I believe that we can celebrate in the day to day events as well. Take time to thank God for all the good things which He has given you. Even if you are by ourselves, you can take a few moments to thank God for this incredible gift of life and for salvation. Take time to remember.