The Discipline of Celebration

Richard Foster’s classic book, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, engages spiritual disciplines as the door to liberation in a life of Christian faith. You may know and practice some of these spiritual disciplines already: meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, and guidance.

But you’ll never guess the final discipline he discusses (unless, of course, you’ve read the book!).

The twelfth discipline Foster engages is the discipline of celebration, stating boldly,

Celebration is at the heart of the way of Christ. He entered the world on a high note of jubilation: ‘I bring you good news of a great joy,’ cried the angel, ‘which shall come to all the people’ (Luke 2.10). He left the world bequeathing his joy to the disciples: ‘These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full’ (John 15.11).

Foster later continues,

Celebration brings joy to life, and joy makes us strong. Scripture tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8.10). We cannot continue long in anything without it. Women endure childbirth because the joy of motherhood lies on the other side. Young married couples struggle through the first difficult years of adjustment because they value the insurance of a long life together. Parents hold steady through the teen years, knowing that their children will emerge at the other end human once again...

Without joyous celebration to infuse the other Disciplines, we will sooner or later abandon them. Joy produces energy. Joy makes us strong. Ancient Israel was commanded to gather together three times a year to celebrate the goodness of God. Those were festival holidays in the highest sense. They were the experiences that gave strength and cohesion to the people of Israel.

Did you notice that!? Richard Foster declares that without the discipline of celebration, we will sooner or later abandon prayer, study, service, confession, and worship! What a tragedy that would be to abandon these central disciplines at the heart of Christian faith.

In the midst of this season of pastoral and staff transition, we have an incredible opportunity to engage in joyous celebration. When you see Karen Eckland, Director of Children’s Ministry since 2010, or Eric Grasmeyer, Director of Modern Worship through the past year, thank them for their service and celebrate their presence with us. On Sunday, June 28th at 4pm, we will gather to celebrate Pastor Jim Wilson, who has faithfully served Good Shepherd for over 13 years.

Registration closes today… If you haven’t made plans to join in this celebration, do so now! In the life of our community of faith, Sunday, June 28th will be a sort of “festival holiday in the highest sense… giving strength and cohesion to the people of Good Shepherd”!

Pastor Curtis

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