Very seldom does it happen in my life that God sends me a dramatic revelation. There’s been no wet (or dry) fleeces, no divine dreams, certainly no star in the East. Instead, little by little, day by day, like the good author He is He drops hints and signs over time, and if I’m paying attention, I get to have a Spirit-led “ah-ha” moment. Don’t panic: I’m not talking about a special revelation, I’m just talking about how the Spirit helps me make a new connection between my life and the Word.
This week a friend sent me photos of two pages out of Shauna Niequist’s book Present Over Perfect 1) because this friend knows that reading material is my love language and 2) because the point of the text is fabulous. You can read the whole text here, but on these pages, Niequist recounts being away on a retreat. She was at a place where one of the customs was that whenever kayaks went by, all the people on the shore would stop what they were doing and go throw candy to the kayakers. As the owner of some kayaks and lover of candy, I’m hoping I can get this to catch on around here! Do you think peanut butter cups will float? I digress. So, at one particular moment of nautical chaos, Niequist observes her host, who was in charge of the keeping everyone moving and safe, still drop what he was doing and run to throw candy at passing kayakers. Niequist immediately views this occurrence as an allegorical lesson of what God was teaching her, much the way these lessons happen to me, with the point being she was so busy being busy she’d stopped celebrating, or “candy throwing.” I don’t think that Shauna, or I, are the only ones who find themselves again and again in the stranglehold of busyness. Perhaps we too look at a celebration with some smug disdain, or excuse ourselves from facilitating it in our own lives as we sink further towards the quicksand-like death busy has to offer us.
Later that day, or maybe the next, I was doing dishes and listening to a new favorite podcast, Dear Daughters (Episode 56), in which the darling host Susie Davis and friends talked about simplifying hospitality. These three ladies, all of whom are committed to Christian hospitality, debunked the idea that you either have that gift or not and encouraged listeners that hospitality doesn’t always need to be a big event. They asserted hospitality is really just showing someone you care, and celebrating big and small moments in other people’s lives. Hmm, that sounds awfully simple, just throwing candy. The whole podcast is well worth a listen.
I thought of a quote I’d read in Sally Clarkson’s book Lifegiving Table by Abraham Joshua Heschel, “The man of our time is losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating, he seeks to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation…Celebration is…giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions.”
If you think about it, God commanded Israel regular times of feasting and festivals. These were times of worship, remembrance, and celebration. Even the book of Leviticus (which, let’s be honest is not exactly an exciting read) commands Israel to have a Year of Jubilee. Go read it for yourself, but there’s the sounding of trumpets, no work, no debt; all this sounds like a celebration to me! The Israelites were called out of their busyness to remind themselves and to show the surrounding nations that they could celebrate because of who their God is! These are celebrations in which Jesus himself took part in, and if anyone had demands on his time or higher obligations to attend to than a party it was probably him.
These thoughts led me to the following conclusions. First, of all people Christians have the most to celebrate. We know how the story of this often difficult life will end, and it ends in the triumph of the King. Secondly, celebrating even in the face of busyness and difficulty is an act of faith. When we seek to “throw some candy” at our fellow sojourners we are fulfilling exactly what we pray for when we pray “thy Kingdom come.” We know the world is a broken, painful place and one way we can bring light to the darkness is through celebration of even the small victories. Thirdly, Heaven isn’t going to be anything if it’s not first a celebration. We should make every effort now to celebrate with our brothers and sisters in both big and small ways as this is just as much a taste of what eternity will be like as our worship on Sundays. Lastly, but no less importantly, we should also seek out those who are far from Jesus to join us in these times of celebration so that they too can “taste and see that the Lord is good.” In doing so we begin to fulfill the Great Commission. Disciples aren’t made when they are beaten over the head with rules, they’re made when they see the extravagant love of Christ.
One thing we have tried to do from the beginning of Christ Church, if you haven’t been with us long, is to “throw great parties.” These are not just fun social events but are also real demonstrations of the Lord’s goodness to us and opportunities for you to invite in to our community the “stranger in your midst.” The Party Planning Team met last week and we have three more structured opportunities this year for our church to celebrate life together. These are opportunities are not for you not to just add something to your jam-packed calendar but to take a moment, to take a breath, and celebrate, to “throw some candy,” if you will. Our next event is happening on June 9. We will gather for a pizza party at the Schertz YMCA to celebrate the end of another school year. There will be a splash pad, indoor playscape, and gym available for our use. I do hope you’ll invite some of your friends from school or your neighborhood to join in. I hope to see you there! I also hope that in the coming “lazy days” of summer you will find opportunities to “throw candy” for those around you in big and small ways.