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Life Balance – Week 2

Time to Celebrate

  • Think of a recent or memorable celebration you have been at or hosted – a birthday party or wedding, for example.
  • What made it special? What happened at it? How did you feel about being there?

The Sabbath, in Jewish and Christian tradition, has always been seen as an opportunity to celebrate and to give thanks to God, creating in us an “attitude of gratitude”. Holy Communion is also called the Eucharist – from the Greek for “giving thanks”. In Jewish families, each Sabbath meal is treated as a special occasion, with the best tableware and good food. In both faiths worshippers try to give of their best – to create a time of delight and beauty.
This is not meant to be an unrealistic cheerfulness, denying the reality of suffering, but a way asserting that even when times are bad, it is still possible to give thanks.It is in the bad times that we most need to be able to see what is good and positive.  
Sabbath celebration encourages us to learn to seize and savour the moment, cutting across our tendency to be cynical or self-pitying.

  • Read – Genesis 1.1-2.3 and Philippians 4.4-6
This famous passage from Genesis describes God’s creation of the world. It is not an attempt to describe in scientific or historical terms how the world came to be, but rather to help us to understand how God sees his creation. The repeated refrain is “God looked at what he had done and saw that it was good.” This was an unusual view in the ancient world. Most religions believed that the gods did not really care about the world in this way. But the God of the Bible delights in his creation.

In the letter to the Philippians, Paul encourages his hearers to rejoice. It is a letter written while Paul was imprisoned by the Roman authorities, so the positive tone of the letter is a bit surprising. But Paul says a little further on in the letter that he has learned  “to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4.11-13)

His hope is that the church at Philippi will feel secure in God’s love for them too , so that they can meet the difficulties of their lives with trust and thankfulness too.

  • Do you tend to be optimistic or pessimistic? Is the glass “half-full” or “half-empty”? Why do you think this is? What or who influenced your attitude to life? How could you learn new habits of thankfulness? 
  • Looking back on your journey through life, what would you most want to celebrate?
  • What about when you don’t feel like celebrating, when things are going wrong? Does celebration always mean having a smile on your face?
  •  Does worship at church feel like a celebration, or a chore? What makes it feel that way?


  • Jewish tradition specifies many blessings to be said through the day to thank God for his gifts – food, the world around us, natural phenomena like lightning or a rainbow. They usually follow the form,  “Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe who has given us…” Try to be aware this week of the good things around you in your life, and make up your own short prayers of thanksgiving for them.
  • Write a letter to God, looking back over your life and identifying the ways in which you have been aware of him in it. You could divide your life into decades, or home in on significant moments to do this.
  • Make a list of all the things which bring you joy. Consider ways of making more time, or more regular time, for these things in your life.

Adapted from “Life Balance” Copyright © Robert Warren and Sue Mayfield 2005 Church House Publishing.