What kinds of activities come to mind when you hear people talk about celebration as a spiritual discipline? I realized recently that I was missing a crucial part of this discipline.
I led a Sunday school class a few weeks ago focusing on Richard Foster’s book “The Freedom of Simplicity,” and one of Foster’s points is that simplicity does not necessarily mean giving your material goods to the poor for them to go off and enjoy on their own. There’s something to be said for collecting groceries in an Easter basket to dispense to needy families, but what about going a step further and actually inviting them to share your own Easter feast? We understand how to give to the poor to practice simplicity, but we often neglect to link this practice to our practice of celebration.
Gathering canned goods for the poor is great, but sharing a common meal with them is even better. We are not meant to merely give material things away; we are meant to enjoy them together with the whole community. Material blessings are not just for enjoying on our own, in isolation from other people.
Foster gives an example of what this looks like from the Old Testament: “And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. … And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.” (Deuteronomy 14:22, 29).
What a picture of a community celebration of God’s provision! I hosted a lavish Easter Vigil feast for lots of friends, with flowers on the table and steak with brie, asparagus, and carrot cake on our plates. But other than that event, I can’t say that I’ve done a great job of celebrating Easter in community, nor have I really included the disadvantaged in those festivities. But I hope to learn to better seek out the forgotten, the lonely, the marginalized and invite them into a corporate celebration of the resurrection.
What ideas do you have for engaging in community-wide celebration? Have you been to a good celebration recently, and what made it good?