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Posts tagged ‘rejoice’

Easter

 

Christ is risen! Alleluia!

The tomb is empty.

He is alive.

Jesus reigns.

Let’s dance and sing and rejoice!

 

Lane M. Arnold

All rights reserved.

 

Celebration as a Spiritual Discipline

Albert Einstein said, “You can live as if nothing is a miracle or you can live as if everything is a miracle.” Isn’t that the essence of celebration?

 

If we are attentive, in upbeat places of the heart, we can see the miracle of what God is up to in the moment at hand. We can see the miracle in the mundane, in the messiness, there in the mix of the ups and downs that each day brings. Yet, isn’t it true that when we think of miracles, we expect an accompaniment of fireworks and trumpets?

 

The reality is there are a thousand simple, quiet miracles each day, which we easily miss if we aren’t watching for them: small noticing of big miracles, big noticings of small miracles.  The way my body moves. Dew on the grass. The hilarious, encouraging phone call. The jaunty serenade of laughter. Magenta sunsets.

 

Celebration is a way of enjoying the everyday miracles alongside the over-the-top ones. It’s another way of thinking about the status of the proverbial glass: Is it half full or half empty? If that glass is half full, then that’s cause for celebration. Conversely, we often think that if it’s half empty, that’s legitimate cause to be rather Eeyore-ish.

 

However, in living among the spiritual disciplines, we learn a spiritual discipline requires, hmm, discipline. In his classic book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster states that the disciplines of the spiritual life invite us to move from the surface of life to its interior depths. Movement involves change, doesn’t it?

 

In one sense, celebration doesn’t seem like it really needs to be a discipline. Celebration appears as if it would always be easy, that is, until it’s not.

 

On difficult days it’s hard to find anything that seems celebration-worthy. A disaster occurs. Sometimes these things are huge like getting fired or the terminally bad news the doctor declares. It’s the investment that goes belly up and the relationship that falls flat on its face.

 

 

At other times, the hardness isn’t one giant avalanche. It’s a continually smattering of snowballs hard as ice that pelt time after time all through the day ‘til you’re battered and bruised. It’s the car battery going dead then the water heater flooding the basement then pounding your thumb instead of the nail. It’s the check that doesn’t come. The neighbor who knocks over our trashcan and leaves the scene of the mess. It’s the daily waiting for what should have been that still isn’t quite yet.

 

It’s on days when hardness seeks to harden our hearts that entering into celebration as a spiritual discipline can form us into fluid and flexible and festive people. With the spade of spiritual disciplines, we dig diligently and determinedly deep, to practice what we don’t feel like practicing. We savor the mystery and wonder of God even among the misfortunes that pummel our days.

 

Celebration happens in two ways. The easy way as we rejoice and delight because of what’s happening: a raise, a sunrise, a flower still blooming after the first snow. The disciplined way of celebration occurs as we rejoice and delight in spite of what’s happening. It’s finding the sparkle in the darkness: a simple pleasure among a plethora of pains.

 

Whichever way we come at it, celebration moves our hearts from the things on the surface to the deeper heart of Jesus.

 

How’s your celebration quota? What miracle, small or large, will you celebrate today?

 

 

Lane M. Arnold

© 2013. All rights reserved.

Saints Abound

In the middle of this week which holds All Hallows’ Eve and All Saints’ Day, it’s a good time to pause and reflect on those who have gone on before us, as well as on the here and now. Whenever I come to this season of the year, in my mind’s eye, for just a moment or two, I think of Hebrews 11 and Revelation 7:9-17. As I browse through Hebrews 11’s “Saint’s Hall of Fame”, some are quite famous, known by their bold following after God and their gloriously huge failings in the midst of that struggle. Conversely, there are the unnamed ones often tortured, stoned, and persecuted. All are commended for their faith.

Down through the ages, I think of other saints: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, David Livingstone, the Wesley brothers, John and Charles, Florence Nightingale, Dag Hammarskjold, C. S. Lewis, Mother Teresa, Amy Carmichael. Such a myriad of saints of all shapes and sizes have walked across the stage of history.

Right this minute, some other names, more personal ones, come to mind. Who do you remember who has crossed over to heaven? Who do you think of who followed long and joyously after Jesus, who is right now in His presence?

Indeed it is this gallery of saints, a spiritual pep rally of sorts, this “great cloud of witnesses” of Hebrews 12:1-2, who are cheering us on as we run the race towards Jesus and with Him. And we are running, aren’t we? We are here and there, sometimes in circles, sometimes backwards, sometimes right up the steepest path available just to tumble straight down again in avalanche-style! Yet, even with all our antics, the saints of the past, the cloud of witnesses, are continually urging us ever upwards towards the Kingdom.

Most of the time, we tend to stop here and say “those” were the saints. But 1 Corinthians 1: 2 says it differently: “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” (NASB) Other verses such as Acts 9:13, Ephesians 1:1, and Philippians 1:1 also call people SAINTS, all those who follow Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Today, pause and ponder this: you sit, walk, work, play, exercise, laugh among saints: Saint Janis, Saint Wally, Saint Loretta along with Saint Moses, Saint Paul, and Saint Peter, all who are Christ’s own through intimate relationship with Him as our heart’s lover.

As we approach this week full of All Hallows’ Eve and All Saints’ Day, let’s reflect not only on the saints that have gone before us who are cheering us on, but turn and look at those we walk beside today, greeting these our faithful saint-friends, just as Paul did in the start of his letter to the church at Ephesus and Philippi. Let’s sing and rejoice for we are the ones who have stood at the foot of the cross and at the empty tomb, we who have chosen Christ-following as our way of life, we are indeed the saints of God.

Lane M. Arnold

 

 

 

 

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