The Power of Celebration

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. (Psalm 126:3)

Over the last weekend I was surprised by joy. I mean, I knew it was going to be a happy time as Bonnie and I made our way to Peoria for the wedding of Peter Sudhoff and Erica Lee. But throughout the weekend I experienced the kind of celebration that liberated me from the burdens I brought with me. I felt invited to be free from them for awhile.

There were many moments. Finally encountering the sun for a bit on the Friday afternoon drive after so many gloomy days in a row. The radiant joy on the faces of Steve and Mollie to greet us. The deep holy breath I saw Peter take as he watched Erica moving toward him down the aisle, and the emotive love expressed by Erica and Peter as they shared their vows. The banquet that followed, up on a high bluff overlooking the river, with friends new and old. The clanging glasses, the toasts to life and love, the feasting, the music and dancing, and the laughter, the laughter everywhere.

Now I’ve been to many, many weddings, and I know that what I speak of here is not unusual. My record book tells me this was the seventy-fifth time I’ve had the holy privilege of standing with a couple in their most holy moment of life.

But there was something this time that liberated my spirit, invited me into a deep remembering of life’s gift and goodness. I drove home with a profound sense that the Spirit of God had a meeting with me there, and invited me into gladness, to let the isolating fog of the last three years and the unprecedented challenges of ministry that companion me through these days be gone for awhile.

I’m still basking in that celebration, and am going to stubbornly hold onto that invitation as long as I can. It was a healing and transformative time for me.

What I want to say is that celebration is a powerful mitigating remedy for the challenges we face and the sorrows we hold. And though weddings are wonderful, it need not be such a planned and festive celebration; we can make plans to seek out gladness and joy right in the middle of our ordinary days. Knowing yourself best, it’s up to you to figure out what that looks like.

I just know I’ve been reminded again of the healing power celebration has!

God bless and keep Peter and Erica!

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