Here is a copy of my congregation's October newsletter article.
Last week I celebrated the anniversary of my ordination as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the day after that we celebrated my son’s fourth birthday. Every year I celebrate two important dates back to back and prepare to celebrate my wife’s birthday the following week. It is good to celebrate; in fact some would say that it is an essential part of the Christian life.
Christian celebration is about giving thanks for the gifts that God has given us and gathering people together to recognize God’s goodness and generosity in our lives. In celebrating my ordination I celebrate God’s call on my life and the privilege of serving Christ’s Church. While ministry is challenging it is also deeply rewarding. Practicing celebration draws my attention to the blessings of ministry and the ways God has used my life and ministry to touch others.
In celebrating my son’s birthday we celebrate the gift that he is in our lives and the lives of those that know him. We give thanks for his unique personality, gifts and skills. We look back on his life, celebrating where he has come in this last year and look forward to God’s movement in his life in the year to come. It is good and right to celebrate the people in our lives and we will do the same for my wife in a few days.
If we look closely at our lives we will find that are numerous causes to celebrate. We can celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, promotions, new jobs, new homes, school years, friendships, sports achievements, academic achievements, etc… As Christians we gather weekly to celebrate God’s gift of forgiveness and new life through Jesus. While there are so many opportunities to celebrate and give thanks to God for his goodness and love we often overlook these opportunities. We get into a rut aka the rat race and simply miss the opportunity to celebrate. It becomes one more thing to do in an already overcrowded schedule.
In not celebrating we miss out on the joy of pausing to see the goodness and beauty that is part of our lives. We can begin to take for granted the gifts we have and the people we love. Taking people for granted is never a good thing. Celebration helps connect us to those people and events in our lives that are truly important. Celebration connects us again to the God who is the giver of all good gifts and who longs for us to enjoy all that he has given. Celebration is about slowing down and looking at who we are and what have. It gives us a joyous spirit and helps shape us into a people who are profoundly thankful.
A great journaling exercise is to take a look at the people, events and circumstances in your life and begin to list who and what you are thankful for. This will begin to give you a sense of God’s generosity and movement in your life. From there develop a plan as to how to celebrate and give thanks to God. You’ll find that it will build your faith and fill you with joy and thankfulness. Time well spent in my opinion.