“Art should be a great hallelujah to life.”
― Marty Rubin ―
My friend Lizzie is staying the summer with my family on our farm.
On her birthday a few days ago, the celebration began before she even peeped out of her bedroom. I scrawled a loving note before going out for my morning run. Later in the morning, my mom sneaked into the kitchen and began crafting a fruit-laden birthday cake while I distracted Lizzie with outdoor activities. My brother added his happy birthday note to our stash of notes. My dad planned an adventurous hike for the afternoon.
All to celebrate the life of my friend.
I wonder…is celebration becoming a lost art?
It’s one thing to make a birthday special, and another to live as a conscious celebrant.
In liturgy, a celebrant is the one who comes to the Lord’s Table to partake — to celebrate with rite and ceremony, to see in some ordinary action like eating an extraordinary thing like redemption. Merriam-Webster also defines the word as “a person who celebrates something.”
So, I want to be a celebrant.
It’s so easy not to be.
I woke up with a tired twinge in my muscles this morning. Beds need made, clothes put away, a lunch packed as I head across town to teach music for the day. Honestly…I really don’t feel like making a big deal of anything. This, then, is why I fear the extinction of the celebrant. I know myself too well.
How can we revive this rare breed of people, the dreamers who pour themselves into creative outlets of celebration? How can I become a girl of conscious celebration?
1. Christians are Called to be Celebrants
It’s true. As Christians, each of us is called to daily celebration. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians. 5:16-18).
We have endless things to celebrate, actually.
The new mercies of the morning, the return of the sun to warm the earth again. That today we are alive. That today is a gift we don’t deserve, but it has still been lavished upon us.
And most of all, that a God of endless worth placed His affection on a unloving people and called them to His salvation. He saved us! I don’t care how I feel this morning — this one trumps all others! No matter if the world crumbles and my life turns upside-down, this reason for celebration will endure. My God loves me.
Oh, Father, give us the grace to live this celebration.
2. Celebrants Think of Others
I doubt I need to tell you how easy it is to go about the day without thinking of anyone else. Deadlines and to-do lists bog us down. We forget about the 7.3 million other people that share this world with us. I honestly don’t understand how I can sometimes be so blind to the people around me.
The true celebrant is one who looks around and really sees.
“Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others. Adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus:
Though he was in the form of God,
he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.
But he emptied himself
by taking the form of a slave….”
– Philippians 2:3-7a, CEB –
But I don’t think this celebratory nature is determined by accident, by chance, by genetic wiring, or any other uncontrollable force.
I think it is something you can cultivate, if you want to take the time.
The verse says “watch out for what is better for others.” That is definitely something we can actively do. And what about the next phrase, “adopt the attitude that was in Christ Jesus”?
So I guess the question is…how much do I really want to obey? How much do I really want to step outside of myself and see the needs of others?
3. Celebrants See the Miracle in the Everyday
My friend Lizzie is good at this one. I’ll find notes on my pillow, a flower in my room, a carefully-copied poem laid where I can see it.
She’s studied me, and she’s learned what sends my soul into raptures.
And then she does it.
Don’t laugh…but that last part is the key. I study you. I see what makes you light up, what things refresh your heart.
And then I make a plan and actually do that thing.
That is how to be a celebrant.
Another dear friend named Emily inspires me with her creative and elaborate celebratory schemes. With 5 younger siblings, she often plans adventurous sibling dates, puts on lovely teatimes complete with adventures in Narnia, and implements actual Pinterest ideas (rather than just collecting pins like I do…) like jello Lego pieces or mailing letters in plastic bottles.
See…here’s the thing.
It really doesn’t take all that much to brighten up someones life, or make a memory that will never fade.
It takes thankfulness. It takes a little determination. It takes time to see, and the willingness to set yourself aside for a few minutes and focus on truly loving that dear person right in front of you.
You don’t have to be a Pinterest craft master or a romantic soul to do this, either. Just look. Just learn what people love. Just train yourself to listen and pay attention to what makes your family members smile, or your friends’ eyes shine.
Then do it.
Why not have an impromptu celebration today? Curate the consciousness of a celebrant.
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
– Albert Schweitzer –