Are you a birthday person? As in, do you enjoy when your birthday is coming up? Do you declare a ‘birthday’ week or – even more audaciously – a ‘birthday month’? Or are you the person who dreads birthdays, who works hard to make sure nobody knows when your birthday is so it can go by unobserved?
It will likely not shock you to know that I am a birthday person. Not just mine – though I love celebrating mine. I love celebrating my friends’ birthdays. As we were approaching today, I paused to think about why. I think it’s because when we celebrate your birthday, we’re celebrating you – all your accomplishments and successes. All the you that makes you, you. We get to stop in the midst of our running and doing and making and earning and just shower you with love and appreciation.
My friend Kathy is pretty famous among her friends for ruthlessly celebrating her birth-month. She told me last year that it was something she did as a spiritual practice. She grew up being taught that celebrating yourself, even feeling good about yourself, was wrong. So she chooses to celebrate herself as an act of self-love, one that resists and unlearn toxic things she came to believe about herself growing up.
How great is that? Celebrating as an act of love and resistance?
I think that’s another reason I love birthdays so much: think about what we’re actually celebrating: you were born. How much input did you have in that decision? Zero. What did you do to earn being born? Nothing.
And yet here you are in all your glory.
There’s something in the birthday celebrating that acknowledges the glory and beauty of just existing. We’re not really celebrating your accomplishments and achievements so much as we’re just celebrating you.
Why all the talk of birthdays? Because we’re almost to Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. Let’s celebrate the Church. As we’ve discussed a lot this series and this past year, the Church is far from perfect. Both from a global perspective and our own local community here. But this is Jesus’ church, the space where heaven and earth come together to bring justice and healing into the world.