They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. Psalm 145:7
The tale of Babette’s Feast, by the Danish writer, Isak Dinesen, centers on two sisters who have spent their lives in a remote, tiny village on the Western coast of Denmark, in the late 1880s. It’s a somber, Protestant community that had been led by their late father who was the village pastor. In their youth, there had been impassioned suitors for both the girls, men who had been passing through the community, but all were rejected by their pious father. The women had given up hope of ever leaving their isolated home where they lived quiet lives of cold, gray thrift and efficiency. Their faith was one of joyless duty.
But 49 years later a French woman named Babette showed up at their door. Fleeing the revolution in France, Babette had been sent to the them for refuge by a man who had once been a suitor. For 14 years Babette cooks and cleans in exchange for her keep. And every year Babette secretly buys a lottery ticket. One day she wins $10,000. Babette keeps her winnings hidden and but she begins to gather the finest, most rare, most sumptuous and exotic ingredients of a fabulous French feast from far away Paris. She quietly and mysteriously goes about preparing a feast, a $10,000 feast, the likes of which, had never been seen in this tiny corner of Jutland.
An invitation is issued and the suspicious villagers are aghast. The congregation gathers to discuss how to respond. Little celebration had taken place among the aging villagers for as far back as anyone could remember. They agreed to attend the meal but not to enjoy it or comment in any way about the food.
But during the lavish dinner, touched by such an utter act of sacrifice and love on Babette’s part, the evening is infused with joy, with forgiveness, with celebration!
“Celebration,” wrote Richard Foster, “is central to all Spiritual Disciplines. Without a joyful spirit of festivity, the Disciplines become dull, death-breathing tools in the hands of modern Pharisees.”
Celebrations are found throughout Scripture. There was a huge celebration when the Jews returned home after their captivity in Babylon. Nehemiah says, “The Levites were sought out from where they lived and brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. The singers also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem (Nehemiah 12, 13:1-3). What believer in Jesus does not long for triumphal Marriage Supper of the Lamb?
What about you? Would you say that your life is marked by joyful festivity from time to time? It is so easy for us, as Christians, to forget that ours is a life of true joy, and that our joy is found in a Source that is outside of our life circumstances. When is the last time you celebrated the goodness of God? When is the last time you celebrated your marriage or a special relationship? In a world of increasing darkness, isolation and emptiness, God’s people must purposefully cultivate lives that are what 2 Corinthians called “the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” The world needs to see us celebrating God’s goodness with joy!
This week at Guidelines we are celebrating! We are celebrating 55 years of the goodness of God! For 55 years now we have had the privilege of pointing people to the “Guidelines for Living” found in God’s Word. If you have been helped by Guidelines for Living, we’d love to hear your story this month as we celebrate! Send us an email at email@example.com.
Together, let’s celebrate our lives in Christ! “’Bring the fatted calf and kill it,’ said the father of the prodigal in Luke, “for my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:23-24)
Resource reading: Nehemiah 12:27-40