Thus the heavens and
we lost our ability to feast?
what can we do to recover this
important part of Christian culture?
of a two-part series
by Bernhard Stock
and all the host of
And on the seventh day
God finished his
which he had done, and
he rested on the
from all his work
which he had done.
So God blessed the
seventh day and made
Right at the
beginning of all, we see that God is active – he
creates a vast universe. But then he finishes
his work, and he establishes a day of rest – the
seventh day, the Sabbath. Of course, this is not
the end of God acting, as if, after this he has
been just leaning back and watching what mankind
does with his world.
This idea of
God as a passive deity who no longer
interferes with the world was, by the way, a
theological position called Deism. Many
Christians still think like Deists, as if God
were no longer active –a mere philosophical
principle. But God is still at work. He is a
living God, who intervenes, acts in our lives,
and speaks to us.
inaguarated the Sabbath, he actually
interrupted his work and established a feast.
And for us also, following his lead, a real
feast is to be an interruption of
For there to
be an interruption, there has to be something
to interrupt – such as the normal
day-to-day-life and activities, the hard work,
the worries of life. We can only celebrate
well and enjoy a feast if it is something
special – something set-apart from the daily
routine of life. And this means that people in
our times, especially in the Western world,
are in danger of loosing our ability to
celebrate. In a world where almost everything
is special, where we can live in material
abundance, where we can have almost everything
we want, and some people don’t even have to
work for it – in a world like this nothing
becomes special. Can we who are wealthy
by historical and current world standards
really celebrate? No! If our lives are one
ongoing party, in the long run, they become
dull, shallow, and boring.
hear people complain about the work they have
to do in preparing a celebration – the
decoration, the cooking – but this is part of
the real feast! It gives you all the more joy
if at the end of all the work you can sit down
and look around and say (like God did):
behold, it is very good.
Eternal Roots in God
also teaches us that the genuine feasting has
its origin in God – it has eternal roots. In
fact, we cannot create a real feast. We cannot
sit down and find a cause for celebrating and
then celebrate. The cause of the real feast is
already given to us. It’s not something we
achieve on our own.
feasts in the Jewish and Christian tradition
have at their root something which God did –
he delivered his people from Egypt, he gave
the commandments, he sent his Son, and the
Son, Jesus, rose from the dead, bringing us
the promise of our own resurrection in him. We
can see that as more feasts become
secularized, they loose their eternal origin
and meaning (some modern feasts don’t even
have an eternal origin), they loose their
attraction and become distorted and perverted.
Christmas is no longer a joyful celebration of
our Savior’s birth. It has been replaced as
the “feast of the family” or, even worse, the
“feast of giving gifts”, and an “orgy of
consumerism”. The more man celebrates himself
and his achievements (such as the mass
celebrations which many communist and
totalitarian regimes have put on each year),
the more this becomes a mere flexing of muscle
and less a real feast.
If a genuine
feasting needs an eternal cause, we Christians
should be the experts in celebrating, because
we have more than enough reasons to celebrate.
My personal conviction is that if Christians
really learn to celebrate well, the people of
this world will take notice and will want to
learn from us how to celebrate the real
feasts, such as Christmas. The world has lost
the art of celebrating because it has lost the
real cause for feasting.
[This article first appeared in
the October 2007 Issue of Living Bulwark.]
II - How Should We Celebrate?
Benrnard Stock is a
gifted teacher in the Sword of the Spirit and a
founding leader of Brot des
Lebens (Bread of Life Community) in
Munich, Germany.See other articles by Bernhard
Stock in Living Bulwark archives.