Between August 2007 and February 2008, on my dad’s side of the family, we lost two cousins and my grandma. In each of these cases, our family came together for funerals and shared a table together after the service, reminiscing about times with our loved ones as we ate our meal.
“We need to get together some other time - for a happy occasion,” we would say at the end of each funeral and meal. And yet, we would get busy with our lives, and ended up placing the reunions on the backburner.
“Let’s celebrate my 35th birthday with the family!” I told my parents in the spring of 2008. Thirty-five is not exactly a remarkable milestone in life. But I wanted to get together with the family for a reason besides a funeral. So in April 2008, we gathered together to eat cake and enjoy one another’s company.
Taking time to celebrate the little and big events in our life is part of the joy of being human. We had the chance recently to celebrate the retirement of Stephenie Bauza and thank her for her work at St. Paul. At the same time we were at Tavern on Main honoring this milestone in her life, another party was in the same room celebrating what seemed to be a birthday. Tavern on Main that Thursday afternoon was filled with much mirth as we honored the people we loved.
I love the story of Jesus celebrating his loved ones wedding in Cana with his mom from John 3. The narrative points us to a person who wanted his friends to have the best celebration possible. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there is a time to dance. Verse 12 notes that “there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live.”
For many of us, though, it does take intentionality to set aside the time to celebrate the little things. We get busy with families, doctor’s appointments, and work. Our calendar fills up. It takes us plugging in a time and place for us to celebrate and invite the ones who will share the joy with us.
I’m excited that during the month of August the folks of St. Paul are finding ways to celebrate the joy in life. First, we have our Margarita Monday Book Exchange fundraiser on August 1. Then we will be gathering together on August 13 at Scharf Farm for our St. Paul Friends event. And on August 28, we will be attending the Cards vs. Braves baseball game at Busch Stadium. In the mix of all of this, many of us will be attending a trivia night fundraiser for Beacon Ministries on August 20 and the Interfaith Food Pantry’s 15th anniversary on August 6.
What will you celebrate during the month of August? Getting through a treatment or surgery? A celebration delayed due to previous Covid restrictions, heightened numbers, or Covid itself? A non-milestone birthday like 42 or 74? My family will be celebrating my mom’s 75th birthday happening this month! Whatever or however you celebrate, may the joy of the Spirit lift your souls, and may the Christ of connections bring us together with our loved ones to celebrate the mighty and miniscule in life.