Commanded to Celebrate  
 
I’m reading through the Bible. Not in a year or anything, but as I’m able to. And it just so happens that my reading on Thanksgiving morning was 2 Chronicles 30, a story about the importance of holidays and the command to celebrate.  
 
The setting for this story is a dark ages period for God’s people. I mean, King Ahaz even burned some of his children in the fire, “imitating the detestable practices of the nations” God had driven out before the Israelites as they arrived in the Promised Land (2 Chronicles 28:3). And among other things – like worshipping the LORD and reading His word – celebrating had fallen by the wayside among God’s people.  
 
What? I mean, isn’t partying often the cause of people falling away from God instead of the remedy for it?  
 
Meet King Hezekiah, one of the sons of King Ahaz who wasn’t burned alive as a sacrifice to a foreign god. Hezekiah must have taken notes as he grew up: “How to NOT be like my wicked father.” And so, when Hezekiah took over the reigns in Judah, he got to work restoring the people’s worship – and celebration – of the Lord. Hezekiah reorganized the people to celebrate the Passover, “for they hadn’t observed it often” (2 Chronicles 30:5). And even though they weren’t ready enough to celebrate Passover on the right date, they still found a way – under Hezekiah’s leadership – to celebrate it anyway (vv.2-3). Hezekiah knew how important it was for God’s people to celebrate. Indeed, celebration is a command, not just a suggestion.  
 
Right after God’s people were rescued from slavery in Egypt, they got their new student orientation with God at Mount Sinai. This included the Ten Commandments and other laws meant to guide the people to live as God’s light in the world. Among these laws was the command to celebrate in Exodus 23:10-19. Three times a year the people are to report to Jerusalem – for a party! Passover (Festival of Unleavened Bread), Pentecost (Festival of Harvest), and Sukkot (Festival of Tabernacles/Ingathering) were divinely ordained parties, commands to celebrate and remember God together!  
 
So, as we enter another holiday season – with extra To Do’s and busyness we might be tempted to belittle as a waste of our precious time to serve God and make a difference in the world – let’s not forget that celebrating is a command. And not just celebrating anything, but celebrating God. Who He is. What He’s done. How He’s leading us. The command to celebrate liberates us to party, both to express our commitment to the Lord and to deepen it.
So Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!
 

  -Pastor David, 11/23/2018