COG 7: The Function of Celebration
God created celebration for more than just worship. We can use it to do many things from teaching to simply having fun! Join AMBrewster as he helps Christ-followers appreciate the various purposes of celebration.
The Year Long Celebration of God is a family resource from Truth.Love.Parent., a ministry dedicated to rooting families in God and maturing families for God so they can harvest blessings from God.
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As our focus for The Celebration of God becomes sharper, we’re going to refine our understanding of each concept. We’re going to follow the lines of the foundation we’ve laid as we add block by block to form the walls of this discipleship tool.
So far we’ve posited a broad understanding of what it means to celebrate, we’ve considered the impact the reality of God has on our celebration, and we’ve discussed one main function of celebration.
But I believe there are many more.
If you’re driving right now or walking the dog or washing the dishes, we will have a full transcript and free downloadable episode notes for you at CelebrationOfGod.com. I’ll include a link in the description of this episode so it’s easy to find.
And if I ever cite other resources, I’ll include those links in the description as well.
Today we get to unwrap the glorious purposes God has crammed into celebration.
One of the most famous historical events for the Jews was the Exodus.
Four hundred years previous, God lead Jacob and his family to Egypt. There they multiplied from a family of 70 to a nation of between 1 and 3 million people.
But the Egyptians had ceased being gracious hosts and had become cruel taskmasters. You know the account — after God brings 10 plagues on Egypt, the Pharaoh finally lets them leave and the Egyptians laden them with rich gifts on their departure. But shortly after allowing them to leave, the Pharaoh has a change of heart that results in the crossing of the Red Sea and the destruction of Egypt’s army.
In addition to giving them the 10 Commandments and establishing everything they would need to be a God-honoring nation in the midst of a pagan world, over the next 40 some years God miraculously provides for their every need including sending quail and pulling water from rocks.
The book of Exodus is an amazing account filled not only with the historical record of God’s deliverance of Israel, but also the signs, images, and types that represented nearly the rest of God’s redemptive plan for His people through the end of time.
It’s an awesome study, and I can only imagine that it was glorious to experience.
For thousands of years the Jewish people have been rehearsing that event every year during Passover. In fact, the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt is referenced in most of the Old Testament books.
That event is instructive and formative for every believer in Yahweh. And the Father knew it would be something His people would need to remember for generations to come.
That’s why in Deuteronomy 6 the Lord makes such a big deal about the importance of remembering the event.
Chapter 6 opens with a reference to the 10 Commandments recently given to the Israelites. Verse 1 and 2 read, “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, 2 so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.”
Verse 4 then reminds Israel who their God is and commands the parents to diligently teach their children all about Him. We have a number of resources at TruthLoveParent.com that expound on this passage in greater detail.
And then the Lord fast-forwards a bit. He looks to a time when the Jews are comfortably living in the Promised Land, after they’d long forgotten the arduous and miraculous road down which God lead them out of Egypt, and He warned them not to follow after the non-gods of the nations lest consequence come upon them.
So, in order to help them remember Who God is and what He did, starting in verse 17 the Lord says, “You should diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and His testimonies and His statutes which He has commanded you. 18 You shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you and that you may go in and possess the good land which the Lord swore to give your fathers, 19 by driving out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has spoken. 20 When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the Lord our God commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 Moreover, the Lord showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh and all his household; 23 He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.’ 24 So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. 25 It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the Lord our God, just as He commanded us.”
Now, fast forward to when the Israelites have actually crossed into the Promised Land for the first time. God provided the people a Red Sea Sequel, and from the middle of the river they removed 12 huge stones that were to be erected for a reminder. Joshua 4 verse 6 and 7 read, “Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”
So, from the exodus to the entrance of the people of God into the Promised Land, we find numerous feasts and memorials, celebrations and worship all hearkening back to that touchstone — that amazing illustration of God’s love and care and provision and salvation.
And it’s in that event and the subsequent way it’s been treated ever since that we learn there are multiple functions — multiple purposes — for celebration.
Now, not every point we consider today will come from the celebration of the Exodus, and I’m not suggesting that our families celebrate the Exodus . . . but I am using it to illustrate that celebration accomplishes many different purposes.
We have 5 points, and the first two are a quick review.
1. Celebration is an act of Worship.
A couple episodes ago we talked about the necessity of understanding celebration from God’s perspective, and we learned that celebration is worship.
When I set aside my desires and submit to God’s will for my life, I’m celebrating Him. It may be a merry event full of singing and food and games, or it may be in the quiet struggle where we push aside temptation and simply obey the Lord.
Of course, the opposite is true. When I knowingly or ignorantly set aside God’s expectations and push forward in my own understanding and for my own glory . . . in that moment I’m celebrating the tiny “g” god of self.
So, what we celebrate is always going to reveal what we value.
2. Celebration is obedience to our created Rhythm.
Last time we learned that whether it’s a weekly day of rest or stopping work to commemorate what God has done or it’s overcoming my slavish lust for self . . . each of those is submission to the rhythms God’s injected into my very cells.
We’re going to learn a lot this year about the spiritual and physical health that comes from embracing God’s rhythms.
Those are review, but the final three considerations for today are new functions we have not yet discovered.
3. Celebration is a wonderful Teaching and Training tool.
You may be familiar with words like catechism and liturgy. Both of those words embrace the age-old adage that repetition aids learning and practice makes permanent.
Let me give you a perfect Celebration of God example.
Let’s say that we’re coming into the Christmas season, and your family observes Advent. Advent is a celebration of Christ’s first coming coupled with an anticipation of His second coming.
Many people like to use one version or another of the Advent Calendar. Yes, many of them serve no greater purpose than supplying the children with a piece of chocolate every day leading up to Christmas, but others are filled with Advent verses, trinkets that point to deeper biblical considerations, or opportunities to apply the Scriptures in acts of service or discussion.
Imagine if every year, on the 6th day of Advent your children open their Advent Box and find a slice of chocolate with a piece of paper neatly wrapped around it. When they unwrap that paper they read the following verse from Revelation 21:3-4, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’”
And your family makes a habit of explaining the passage and encouraging the children to memorize a portion or the entire two verses. Those verses are then revisited around the dinner table that evening and everyone shares one brief thing that excites them about Christ’s future coming.
And imagine your child who is now 5 does this year after year after year.
I guarantee you it won’t be long before those Truths start to take hold. I’m certain that many children — once reaching adulthood — will have those memories and verses come to mind in the weeks preceding Christmas as they remember with fondness the love of the Lord that was in your home.
That one verse on that one day of Advent is a perfect way to teach your kids about what Jesus is going to do when He sets up His eternal kingdom.
Now, if you’re interested in the difference between teaching and training, I applaud you for your insight. They are very different, but we don’ the time to discuss here. So I’m going to include some additional links in the description of today’s episode that will direct you to a couple studies I did with the Truth.Love.Parent. There you will learn the very important distinction between the two and when to know if you’re teaching your followers or training them. This goes for children, members of your congregation, small group, homeschooling co-op . . . basically, everyone.
So, God created celebration as an act of worship that perfectly coincides with His created rhythms, but it’s also a fantastic tool to teach our children Who God is, help them understand Him better, and then train them to live in that knowledge through true love and obedience.
But . . .
4. Celebration helps us Remember.
Yes, this concept is tied to teaching; good teaching will always result in people remembering what they were taught, but the concept of remembering is bigger than that.
According to Merriam-Webster, to commemorate means “to call to remembrance” and “to serve as a memorial.”
I was working on this material around July 4th., and in American that’s our day to celebrate our nation’s independence. Every nation on the planet recognizes an independence day or day of formation. Part of that celebration involves memorializing those who fought and worked and sacrificed to make your nation a reality.
We do the exact same thing when we observe Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
But, really, all celebration are memorials.
Whether we’re remembering what God did for us through Jesus Christ’s substitutionary atonement on the cross and resurrection from the dead, or taking time to appreciate our children’s lives on their birthdays . . . celebration memorializes.
Do you remember what God told the Jews through Moses. He wanted feasts and monuments set up so that when people saw them, they would be reminded of what God had done.
This was the original idea behind the stained glass windows in churches. Congregants who couldn’t read would be able to see biblical Truth displayed in the windows and through the other art forms in the church.
I generally try very hard to keep my podcasts evergreen by not referencing current events. But there’s a current even in 2020 that applies to this topic very well. In July of 2020 in America, terrorists, anarchists, and rioters are destroying statues and monuments all over our country. They’ve even talked about wanting to blow up Mount Rushmore.
These people do not want to remember the men and women and events memorialized by the statues, and so . . . naturally, they want to tear them down.
But, for the Christian, every act of worship to God should make it easier to remember to live for God as well as it makes it easier to commemorate what God has done for us.
Here’s a beautiful example for the New Testament believer: Every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we do it in remembrance of Christ "For as often as [we] eat this bread and drink the cup, [we] proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (I Corinthians 11:24-26).
And lastly . . .
5. Celebration is a lot of Fun.
Yahweh is the perfect example of joy and peace and fun. He created fun. He loves for His people to rejoice and be glad — even when the situations in their lives are difficult.
I worry greatly about the maturity of a professing Christian who thinks going to church and reading the Scriptures and praying and singing and celebrating God is boring.
How on earth could it be boring?! God is awesome. He’s done so much for us that needs to be celebrated and remembered. The problem is not that celebrating what is good isn’t any fun, the problem is that our hearts are sinful.
John 3:19-21 says, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
The light is all things beautiful and perfect and holy and right and fun and glorious. The dark represented here is that which steals and kills and destroys. Sin hurts; righteousness gives life.
Our churches and families and small groups should be encouraged to have the right kind of fun. We need to teach them how to really enjoy being a follower of Christ. We need to make our celebrations of God — both the High Days and the Low Moments — an enjoyable experience.
Now, I’m not going to lie to you. Spiritual immaturity deceives us into thinking that sin and self-worship are more fun than serving God. Hebrews 11:25 teaches that sin can give us pleasure, but only for a season. It’s passing and quickly fades and leaves us wanting more.
But a relationship with God satisfies to the uttermost.
Still, it’s a spiritual battle. We can’t do it on our own. We defiantly need the power of the Holy Spirit to experience the joy that comes from celebrating God, but it’s a deep fountain of glorious peace and contentment when we finally have the pleasure of bathing in it.
God created celebration to accomplish various functions. By it we worship God, by it we can enjoy the rhythms God created us to experience, by it we can teach and learn, by it we can remember, and by it we can have a lot of fun.
I hope you’re excited to have an entire year of God-worshipping fun with me, your church, your family, and Christians all over the world as we learn to celebrate God!
Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets so more and more Christ followers can join us.
And check out or next episode which introduces you to the various pieces of our celebration. We’ll talk about Preparations, Observations, Celebrations, and Anticipations.
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The Year Long Celebration of God is a dynamic, holistic resource that utilizes the Bible, our holiday calendars, and even the most average moments of the most normal days to equip Christians to worship God all year long
and disciple others to do the same.
AMBrewster is the creator and host of the Celebration of God. He originally designed the COG to be a discipleship tool for Christian parents to train their children to know and love God, but he quickly realized how valuable it is for all Christians. Whether it's a small group, church, classroom, one-on-one, or community relationship, this resource is guaranteed to draw people closer together as they draw closer to God.
Aaron is the President of Truth.Love.Parent. and host of its podcast.