The dictionary dampens the word ‘celebrate’ when placing it in a religious context, formalizing it and stripping it of joy, making it a rite duly, solemnly, performed. Otherwise, the word connotes party, boisterous rejoicing, exuberant happiness. So, when we church folk say we celebrate Communion, for example, it points to a very different kind of celebrating from that of a birthday, a wedding, an anniversary. But are we not instructed to remember Joy Himself when taking Communion? Is it an invitation to recall all the gruesome details of Jesus’ last week on earth? Is it an invitation to re-live the despair, the brokenness, the anxiety, and outright fear of his disciples? Or is it an occasion for welling-up gratitude for the indescribable (yes, horrific) price paid for our new life, a reminder to live out loud this boundless gift of love, freely given?
Soon, we’ll be celebrating Pentecost. What kind of a celebration will it be? Will it be that of an historic event many centuries old? Will it be that of a rehearsal of the wild event of one day in the life of Jesus’ disciples? Will it be limited to the wearing of red, then forgotten until next year? Or will it be the kickstart for a renewed commitment to be ‘fishers of men,’ ‘the light of the world,’ ‘the salt of the earth,’ the ’cities on hills,’ the ‘foreign agents’ of loving change in a very lost and very hurting world? Will Pentecost 2023 remind us of the dynamic, indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who energizes us and encourages us and gently prods us to be about the work of our Father? Will we, with renewed vigor, draw on his ‘ministry’ to be empowered to love not only our family and friends, but also our enemies?
Let’s engage with this now familiar prayer as a personal, daily challenge for the next week and a half leading up to Pentecost on May 28: “Father, help me to live this day to the full, being true to You, in every way. Jesus, help me to give myself away to others, being kind to everyone I meet. Spirit, help me to love the lost, proclaiming Christ in all I do and say. Amen.” Our lives, as those journeying to the Father’s heart, may just intersect in an eternal, life-giving way with someone we meet, someone desperately needing to know this love we know, this love we cherish, this love bigger than any dictionary definition will ever be able to capture. And that, friends, will be reason to celebrate for the ‘birth’day it will be! PD
PS. This Note comes to you, compliments of Sue’s computer as PD’s is in the computer hospital for an overall check-up. I’ll keep you posted on his prognosis.