“I have much to celebrate,” said Don Morgan, a long-time parishioner at St. Mark’s.
For a long moment I just stared at him. Don’s house has flooded for the third time. He spent most of Monday, August 28, sitting on his dining table with his legs dangling in the 28” of water before he was brought out by boat. He has now lost two cars. He spends his days going back and forth between supervising work at his house, and being with his wife of 64 years, Bernice, who is a resident of Colonial Oaks Assisted Living Memory Care. He begins and ends each day dealing with a set of stairs at a borrowed garage apartment.
We usually use the word celebrate when referring to happy festivities, times when we can forget for a while the hard parts of life, and enjoy laughter and fun. We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, a new job or a promotion. Celebrations call for spirited toasts about the particular occasion, and hope-filled views of what’s to come.
But that is not the way we use celebrate in Christianity. Our celebrations are when we seek to truly realize that life and death are part and parcel of who and whose we are. Celebrations can only really occur where joy and sorrow, tears and laughter, fear and love can all come together. We celebrate when we embrace the truth that all of life is precious beyond measure. All of life.
“I have much to celebrate,” said Don Morgan, as he reminded me of important lessons which I’d neglected. Out of the wisdom of his years, he seeks to resist the temptation to demand that life be OK, or even fair. From the depths of his faith he strives to accept the wonkiness of life and all its convolutions.
Listen for the word celebrate in our Eucharistic prayers:
“… we thy people do celebrate and make, with these thy holy gifts which we now offer unto thee, the memorial thy Son hath commanded us to make; having in remembrance his blessed passion and precious death, his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; and looking for his coming again with power and great glory.” (- Eucharistic Prayer II, page 342, Book of Common Prayer)
“We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.” (Eucharistic Prayer A, page 363, Book of Common Prayer)
“I have much to celebrate,” said Don Morgan. After a long pause, I responded, “We sure do.”
The Rev. Murray R. Powell