The Gift of Celebration
To say that this past year has been challenging is an understatement of epic proportions. Also, the kind of challenge that I'm talking about here has landed on all of us in one way or another.
I also get that it's not entirely over yet no matter how much I want to will it differently. But even so, sometimes there are moments of light and celebration in the midst of all of the uncertainty, and it gives me hope.
Yesterday, we went to my youngest son's first flag football game. We sat outside in the bright warmth of a Texas Spring day, cheering on his team, and just enjoying the moment.
As I looked around, I saw families doing what families do at those familiar weekend events. Laughing, visiting with friends, and letting our kids, just be kids for a change.
I found myself looking past the masks and social distancing because they've simply become part of the way we cope with the lingering presence of a global pandemic that has taken away so much from all of us.
I looked past all of those reminders of the ravages of this past year, to see the weary joy that permeated the crowd of parents and grandparents who were gathered together.
It felt good, but I was almost afraid to trust the fact that it did. In a year that has been filled with disappointments and setbacks, I've come to be wary of those kinds of feelings. But then I just surrendered to it.
It felt good... to feel good.
Listen, I get that the pandemic is not entirely over, and I'm certainly not looking at all of this through rose-colored glasses. My glasses don't even have any kind of tint to them, as a matter of fact.
However, I do feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that a corner has been turned in all of this. Granted, we need to proceed with some measure of caution as we step into what's next, but we'll never get there unless we begin to move.
God has been present with us throughout all of these trials and tribulations. God is a God who suffers with us, to be sure. I cling to that belief as if it were a life preserver because it is. It has gotten me through some rough seasons over this past year.
But God is also a God who delights in celebration, who longs for us to feel joy, and who offers us the hope that Resurrection brings. Maybe it's time we embraced those aspects of God, too.
Henri Nouwen once wrote:
Celebration belongs to God’s Kingdom. God not only offers forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing, but wants to lift up these gifts as a source of joy for all who witness them.
As you move into the world today, look for signs of new life. Look for signs of healing and reconciliation. Look for signs of restoration and hope. Look for signs of Resurrection. God is still in the business of raising the dead, after all.
And when you find them---celebrate them. Celebrate them in joy, and let that joy keep you moving.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.