Small Beginnings: Celebrating from the cradle to the grave

I am looking forward to attending a baby shower for a good friend of mine next week. This will be her third child and since there has been a considerable distance as well as some life changes since her last pregnancy, she has no baby supplies and therefore her hubby is throwing her a shower. It was originally going to be a surprise, but after a few unexpected twists and turns, the cat is out of the bag so the event is now on the calendar for all to see.

Celebrating the thrill of new life is quite an exciting occasion. There is such promise in the air at a time like this! No one knows what this child will be like or what his future will hold. All the sincere hopes and expectations of the parents and extended family brim over in anticipation of many joys and wonders as the baby grows and develops. The promise of tomorrow becomes tangible as we dream with the mother to be and shower her with support as well as gifts. This kind of celebration is a true pleasure!

Last week we attended the celebration of a marriage between two precious friends. This was a celebration of two individual lives who not long ago didnt even know that the other existed and yet in the course of time they not only became acquainted but they fell in love. This particular day was spent sharing stories of how their romance developed and relating how well they complement one another. In addition, friends and family had many opportunities to declare blessings and wishes over their future that has suddenly gone from being singular to mutual.

Celebrating the hope of a marriage and the potential for a life of love and companionship is quite a joyous event. Typically the guests of a wedding enjoy special music, delightful food and fancy decorations to mark the occasion. At this particular fete, each guest was asked to complete a scrapbook page for the happy couple which included advice for the newlyweds, predictions about when the family might grow as well as wishes and memories from the heart. It was such a charming way to look ahead with great expectations to the unknown joys of tomorrow. This kind of celebration is pure bliss!

Two weeks ago we were guests at a different kind of celebration. A precious man of God who has been our friend for years went home to be with Jesus and yes, we celebrated. We celebrated the legacy of his faith as people who knew and loved him stood to share stories of how his influence led them to Christ. We celebrated the enduring love between him and his wife who was ever present by his side through sixty four years of marriage. We celebrated his gentle strength, his big heart and his bigger hands. This kind of celebration is truly bittersweet, yet nonetheless as equally important as the other kinds of celebrations.

Speaking as someone who personally hates funerals and generally feels uncomfortable in the presence of grief, I do not particularly enjoy these celebrations of life now past; still I can appreciate their value. As I look at things philosophically, I recognize that the first two celebrations of hope and wonder for the future lead inevitably to the third celebration, which reflects back upon the completion of those hopes and dreams having come to a close. All three are really part of one ongoing celebration we call life. In reality, each and every day that we awake and still have breath should be treated as a twenty four hour celebration in itself, lived to the fullest with the awareness of all those hopes and dreams as well as the account which will be asked of us in the end.

Please celebrate something today. Dream about tomorrow and reflect on yesterday, knowing that one day, and none of us knows when that day will come, there will be a conclusion to your story. Lets give them something to celebrate then, by living our lives for the honor and glory of God today!