Let’s celebrate!

July 2, 2014 | Viewpoints
By Waltrude Gortzen |
Gertrude Nickel (nee Janzen) admires her beautiful birthday cake on May 31, 2014.

Honor your father and mother’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matt. 19:19 NIV)

In our frenzied, everyday lives, it’s essential that we celebrate important ministry anniversaries or family milestones that come along as we journey through the years that God has set aside for us. But with those celebrations—you guessed it!—comes the work of planning, which sometimes takes months and can become exhausting, frustrating and certainly, time-consuming. Oh! And, it costs money, too!

For example, this past spring, I was caught in a whirlwind of planning two major milestones, including the 75th anniversary of the annual MC B.C. Women’s Ministry Inspirational Day (See May 26, 2014, page 17 and photo below), and my Mom’s 80th birthday.  Both required numerous planning meetings with others, lots of prep work and patience (mixed with frustration!) while waiting for guest lists and other information to come in.

Also, there were several more ordinary, smaller milestones, such as birthdays, graduations, a 25th wedding anniversary and a couple of weddings, to attend. Plus, unexpected invitations to babysit grandchildren or to attend their dance, music and sporting events, which as grandparents, you just don’t want to miss.

And, interspersed with all of this, there were also the sad and unexpected happenings such as funerals and memorials for loved ones that we are honour-bound to attend, given that celebrating a life well-lived and saying farewell, are certainly milestones in their own right.

Still, there were times when I felt totally overwhelmed this spring and it seemed like I was just running from one event to the next, hoping I was at the right place, on the right day and at the right time, while wondering if  all this work and running around, was really worth it.

However, looking back, I’m more convinced than ever that, if possible, each milestone needs to be celebrated and remembered. Be it a happy occasion or a sad one, we need to pause and pay homage to a beloved person or a well-loved organization. Remembering the history of the relationships involved allows us to evaluate whether we are still on the right path of honouring what is good in our lives.

Also, examining the reasons why an organization was started in the first place helps us decipher if it is still fulfilling its original purpose and whether it will it continue do so in the future. And celebrating a person’s milestone birthday, or the life journey of a loved one gone to their eternal rest, is a time to show our love and respect for the person being celebrated.

When we gather for a special occasion, whether it’s in our birth, adopted or church families, and see the happiness on people’s faces as they greet each other with a simple handshake or a tight hug, it just tugs at the heartstrings, knowing that we’ve had a small part in facilitating that hug or handshake. A heartfelt greeting between friends or family members is something neither Facebook nor Twitter or anything else out there in this fast-paced internet world can replace.

This, combined with hearing words of thanks and appreciation at having organized a special event, makes all the work, frustration, time and patience worth every penny and every hour invested in celebrating yet another milestone!

When all is said and done, what is life all about anyways? Our Scriptures tell us that it’s about loving God and our neighbours (including our families!) as ourselves!

So, let’s keep on celebrating!

Gertrude Nickel (nee Janzen) admires her beautiful birthday cake on May 31, 2014.

There were 144 women who joined in the festivities celebrating the 75th anniversary of Mennonite Church B.C. Women’s Ministry Inspirational Day on May 3 at Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Abbotsford, B.C.

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