December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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Why do we celebrate birthdays, wedding anniversaries, company anniversaries, or you name it? It’s because in celebrating anniversaries, we get to remember an important event! In Scripture, there are many instances in which God commands His people to celebrate an “anniversary” through the use of festivals. These festivals would commemorate an important event in Jewish history, but more importantly, they would draw the Jewish people’s eyes back to God as their faithful deliverer and redeemer.
This is exactly what Mordecai aimed to do with this annual celebration called the Feast of Purim. It would prove to be another tradition in which the Jewish people could look back on the faithfulness of God and take hope in His character! This practice of celebration and remembrance is actually a discipline God intends for us to practice in our daily lives.
Let’s take note of what these festivals, specifically the Feast of Purim that Mordecai instituted, were characterized by:
Remembrance. All of the Jewish festivals and celebrations have the purpose of remembrance in common. In Esther 9:22 (NIV) it says this annual commemoration would be in remembrance of, “the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration.” It’s important to know that remembrance isn’t selective. Looking back involves looking at all the pain and difficulty in addition to the beauty and redemption because it’s when we look back that we can see more clearly how God shows up in every moment.
Fellowship. Another important element of Jewish festivals is fellowship. What does this word mean? We see it used in Acts 2:42 (NIV) where it says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Fellowship is all about coming together with our neighbors to enjoy each other’s company, honor one another, usually eat together, and thus be nourished together physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. We were made to live in community, and a community thrives when they celebrate God’s faithfulness together.
Joy. In Esther 9, we see Mordecai instruct the people to “observe the days as days of feasting and joy.” You may be wondering how Mordecai could command the people to have joy. Well, joy is more than an emotion. Biblical joy is connected to the Holy Spirit, to our faith, to God’s peace, and to gratitude. We see the call to “rejoice” multiple times because part of celebrating involves taking up joy as a conscious decision to be grateful for who God is and what He’s done!
Generosity. Last, but certainly not least, festivals were marked by generosity. In the Feast of Purim, we see Mordecai command the people to give gifts of food to one another and gifts to the poor. This is a beautiful depiction of how God’s love, faithfulness, and generosity in our lives should result in an overflow of our generosity towards others.
Let’s devote ourselves to this practice of celebration more often within our own lives and communities!
Consider setting a daily or weekly reminder in your calendar to remember God’s work in your life. What miracles have you seen in your life? What radical acts of provision or mercy have you experienced? Reminding yourself of these things on a regular basis will transform your faith into a deeply rooted faith.
“Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.”—Esther 9:20–22 (NIV)
Almighty God, You are worthy of our praise and worship! I celebrate Your faithfulness today, and I celebrate with joy because You are good and I am grateful. I ask that You help me to cultivate this discipline of celebration more often in my daily life and in my community. I don’t want to forget what You have done in Scripture and what You have also done in my own life. Help me to also overflow with generosity into the lives of others as a result of this remembrance as well. Amen.
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Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.