As we approach this Christmas holiday, we must remember one of the unique attributes of God – he loves celebration. Often, our Christmas holiday service can become an overly solemn occasion – everyone dressed nicely, quietly holding candles and singing “O Holy Night” — and in the back of our minds we are waiting for it to be over so we can get to the fun stuff, the presents. But, this solemnness is not how God normally does holidays!
In the Bible there are seven holidays commanded by God in Leviticus 23 – nine if you include Purim (Ester 9:18-28) or Chanukah (John 10:22). We usually refer to these holidays as “Jewish holidays.” Of these nine holidays, only one – the Day of Atonement – is a solemn occasion! The rest are huge celebrations with joy and feasting as they remember the saving acts that did God on their behalf! For the Feast of Tabernacles you are commanded to “rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.” (Leviticus 23:40 and John 7: 1-44). For the feast of Purim the scripture tells us it was “a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other” as the Jewish people celebrated how God had saved them through the heroic efforts of Esther!
This Christmas season, as we celebrate a distinctly Christian holiday, we again have an opportunity to celebrate the amazing acts of an amazing God. And this holiday in particular, Christmas, gives us quite the reason to be joyous. God loves us, and the world, so much that he humbled himself as a human being and entered the chaos of the fallen world. Not simply that we would be saved and get to heaven, but that Jesus wants to walk with you in whatever chaos you might be walking through this year. God loves it when we celebrate his actions. And “God with us,” “Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23) is the greatest reason to celebrate and display to God how joyous we are for his amazing love.
— Scott Broberg, Journey Through Scripture Instructor