What we celebrate determines what we value and reflects what we believe. (I’m sure I’m quoting or paraphrasing someone here). We celebrate birthdays because we believe in life and value the existence of friends and relatives. We celebrate weddings because we value loving-committed relationships and believe in family. We celebrate the birth of a baby because value children and believe in the continuation of human-kind. We celebrate in times of collective worship because we believe in God and the community formed in his name and for his glory. We celebrate the Lord’s Supper because we value and belive in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Conversely what we don’t celebrate can point to what we overlook, and eventually what gets completely omitted. This struck me this morning when I read the following quote by Andy Crouch:
In their book Church on Sunday, Work on Monday Laura Nash and Scotty McLennan tell the story of the woman who litigated the clean up of the terribly polluted Boston Harbor for the Environmental Protection Association — one of the major environmental breakthroughs of the twenty-first century. She was a member of an evangelical church, and the only time she was ever recognized from the front of this church was the year that she taught second grade Sunday school. Obviously we should celebrate our Sunday school teachers, but when one of our members acting out of vocation leads in such a tremendous restoration of God’s creation, why wouldn’t we celebrate that, too? And if our churches celebrated that more there would be a less of a sense of saying “yes” to the one, “no” to the other.
Celebrating what people are doing out beyond church walls feels like a risk for pastors, but I think that fear is unfounded.