I think the best night out I ever had at university was the ‘Christmas Ball’ event at the end of my first term. Fake snow fell from the ceiling, the walls seemed to be more tinsel than concrete, and Mariah Carey was blasting out of the speakers.
I was surrounded by the friends I had made in those first few months, and we moved around the dance floor cutting some lethal shapes.
The scene, as I look back now, was one of pure celebration. I wonder though, what were we celebrating?
I suppose everyone had their own reasons for celebrating, presumably making it through the first term. The feeling of being at the centre of celebration was tangible in the club that night, and whilst not all of that celebration could be considered holy, the energy in the room was absolutely electrifying.
I can’t say I’ve experienced too many atmospheres like that. Like having a ticket for a big cup final, or farewell gig, there’s a sense that nothing will be better than being there.
I long to see the church become the place people feel like they have to be at Christmas. The final psalm of the psalter (Psalm 150) shows us what true celebration looks like. In addition to encouraging music and dancing, the final verse reads:
“Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!” - Psalm 150:6
Celebration is a holy activity. We are given a scriptural model conveying that our outward expression of this inward revelation of Christ can be celebratory.
You don't have to look far to find people celebrating this time of year, but the challenge posed to us all is this - how do we celebrate the arrival of the King and not mindless consumerism?
How can we, in our celebration of Christ’s incarnation, celebrate in such a manner that captivates others and make them feel like our festivities are unmissable?
After all, we have more cause for celebration than anyone else! We aren’t celebrating Christmas for the sake of vacuous consumerism, or even the well-intended but incomplete notion that the reason for the season is family and simply ‘being together’.
How can you keep Jesus at the heart of your celebration?