Notes from Pastor John
Pastor John Turnage shares ideas with you about Christ’s messages and teachings and explains scripture from the bible. What does it mean today?
January – February 2018
I was listening to one of our media commentators say the “holiday season begins with Halloween.” Another person made the comment in November that some of the Christmas decorations were already being set out in some stores. I was shocked. The season used to begin with Thanksgiving, run through Christmas, and end with New Year’s celebrations. The holiday season is getting longer and longer. I imagine that at this rate, the holiday season will soon begin with Labor Day!
In other countries, the people celebrate many holidays we are not aware of: All Saints Day, Day of the Dead, days for numerous saints and revelations, and unique personalities, especially if they are perceived to have blessed a place or city or to have led a patriotic cause. Parades, fire-works, and special foods fill both homes and marketplaces.
Celebrating seems to be something we all look forward to and anticipate. We try to find reasons to celebrate personal moments as well; birthdays and anniversaries are the two most common. However, we remember special days as well. I heard one friend comment that this particular day was special because it was the anniversary of his divorce. I had never heard of someone celebrating his or her divorce, but then I can imagine it had meanings for him, of which I was unaware. We could probably find reasons to fill up the 365 days of a year with celebrations.
We set aside a day or time during the day to gather with friends and family, remember, give thanks, eat great foods. We mark the passage of time with our celebrations.
Why do we celebrate? I think we celebrate to help us search for joy and fulfillment. We never hear a commentator on the news say, “There were unexplained outbursts of joy, wonder, and amazement as people celebrated the birthdays of Joe, Jane, and hundreds of others.” Or “Today, the city decided that kindness and wonder were in order, so we stopped the frenetic search for more of every-thing, to talk and laugh with one another, celebrating.”
I think we celebrate to become human again. As we celebrate the crusty edges of negativity, we find that cynicism, struggle, and suffering fall away and are replaced by the tenderness of hope and wonder. Love emerges again in us. We realize that what GOD created was good and it is good to be alive.
Invites to my high school reunion arrive through snail mail and e-mail. They invite me to return to my high school for a dinner, a dance, and to remember when we graduated. Celebrations are an exercise in reaffirming the relationships that are so special to us. There is something about celebrating that draws us to others who want to celebrate the same things. We like being with them, and we hope they like being with us. We gather to remember a moment, event, life, a change, a new beginning—and we affirm its importance to us again. Anniversaries are special celebrations of when our life became new as we joined with another. We celebrate them even more than we do our high school reunions.
I will be the first to admit we have enough struggles both in our world and in our individual lives. However, when we think through the histories of life, most of our stories are of moments we overcame, triumphed, or became free. These celebratory moments are our histories and our stories. We may relate a story of over-coming addiction, bankruptcy, cancer, and then mark it because we overcame and became new. Many have commented to me how tragedy, illness, struggle, loss were some of the most significant events in life, because they drew out of them-selves strength and a new beginning which would never have come. They give thanks for the difficulty. They mark the date and celebrate them!
We have celebrated the season of Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year. Each these holidays emerged be-cause others saw them as moments of great good and God’s blessings. I like to think of each of these celebrations as a continuation of the previous one, beginning with Thanksgiving. We become thankful for all of the good, abundance, family and friends, then move on to the fulfillment of God’s statement, “Do not fear, for I am with you.” Nowhere was he
more with us than when HE came. One week later we set out into the NEW year. It is a season to celebrate!
Oddly enough, it seems like the season draws the best from us. We become more invitational, generous, joyful. There has been a different feel to these months. We have been more open and hopeful. We have seen humanity take a step toward the better. We seem to view the world and say, “I can be better, too!”
Celebration creates hope. After a good celebration, when you are basking in the good, you begin to feel hopeful. Hope emerges in spite of the difficulties around you. In an often tragic world, where we are constantly bombarded with negativity, it is easy to see why more and more of us are looking for things to celebrate. People are looking for hope. Every year we are invited to insure that no people are forgotten during holidays. As they enter homes or shelters for a meal, with the special foods, it seems like they can take a deep breath, and hope the season and the days that follow will bring something NEW.