This year started with a Celebration of Life, aka a funeral, for ManO’s 97 year old uncle who chopped wood and lived on his own into his 90s. A life well-lived. This year will end with my daughter’s celebration of marriage to a guy who not only has made her happy beyond measure but us as well.
As a society, we also celebrate lives, weddings, birthdays, promotions, weight loss, loss of a first tooth, straight As or just passing, new houses, sports wins, political wins, milestone anniversaries, remission from cancer or MS. The list goes on! And on! And on!
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Through the season of Lent, I’m focusing more on the “Little Easters,” the Sundays not counted in the season as penitential but as celebratory days. I’m trying my best to focus on celebrating the right things the right way.[/pullquote]I figured the Bible would be full of references to celebration. Nope. The translated word only comes up a few times. Huh, celebrations weren’t focused upon? I don’t count Herod’s celebration where he orders John the Baptist’s head delivered on a platter.
There’s part of the trouble with celebrations. First, we celebrate things the wrong way far too often. People get ugly when their candidate wins, uglier if their sports team wins, with “in your face” celebrations. A disliked co-worker’s downfall is applauded and becomes a catalyst for office gossip. Someone “gets what they deserve” and we dance. Second, there’s the tension of planning a celebration. Why was someone left off the wedding invite list? Who gets what in the will? The baby baptized this Sunday, did you hear the name? Just think about birthday parties with black Over The Hill signs. It can be ugly out there in party land.
What have we let celebrations become? Maybe there’s a reason the Bible isn’t full of them.
But there’s another story of celebration in the New Testament. A prodigal’s father calls for one when his wayward son returns home.
But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. ~ Luke 15:32
Who is the father addressing? The older brother who stayed at home faithfully while his younger sibling partied. Why did they have to celebrate a party animal with another party? See, even back then, family tensions invaded the most special of celebrations. Maybe that’s part of why the parable is so loved. We can identify with all the players. Sure, we know the larger meaning of this parable Jesus told to illustrate God’s rejoicing at a lost soul returning to God but things get real. This is no abstract story. Ouch.
Through the season of Lent, I’m focusing more on the “Little Easters,” the Sundays not counted in the season as penitential but as celebratory days. I’m trying my best to focus on celebrating the right things the right way. God working in my life to give me focus. The times I reconcile with a friend or a prayer is answered. When my community does something for the greater good.
As Kool and the Gang sing, “Celebrate good times. Come on.”