The world feels like it’s on fire right now, doesn’t?
You don’t need me to repeat the litany of bad news and despair, I’m sure.
Talking about celebrating when the world is on fire feels wrong somehow, doesn’t it?
And yet we are, undoubtedly a good news people. Our bibles recount the story of Jesus’ life in gospels – good news.
But if we look closer, the gospels don’t seem to bear much resemblance to what we might imagine good news looks like.
Luke’s gospel recounts the angels terrifying the shepherds working away on the night Jesus was born as they proclaimed: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
Joy for all people. That’s something worth celebrating, right?
What’s interesting is that the angels don’t proclaim happiness for all people, but joy.
And joy is something greater and richer than happiness, with its roots in happenstance (chance) could ever be. The words used for ‘joy’ in the New Testament are used some 326 times, and yet in these scriptures we see a bloodthirsty King slaying a generation of newborn babies, the crucifixion of an innocent man and the persecution of the early church. The joy is not found in the circumstances people find themselves in, but in whom they trust their circumstances.
True joy, our ultimate reason for celebration, is not found in happy situations or good fortune, but in the Man of Sorrows who died on a cross and rose again.
As strange as it may seem, pausing to grieve and lament during Lent is a part of the fullness of Jesus’ joy.
Even in the darkest times, it seems there’s a day to celebrate something, whether it be the International Day of Awesomeness (which occurred on the 10th March I’m told) or National Let’s Laugh Day (19th March), we haven’t forgotten to celebrate, but we have somehow lost our connection to celebration.
I think the missing connection is thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving and gratitude are what give celebrations meaning and heart, and it’s why it remains important to celebrate even when the world is on fire.
We need not celebrate every passing fad; but we have to celebrate that which we are thankful for.