Birthdays. I’ve always been a big fan of birthdays. I tend to enjoy making a big deal of other people’s. The thought of presents, cake, streamers, and balloons seems like a great idea.
When Madi was little, we always threw her parties at home. Paul dressed up as a clown - which wasn’t a far trip. We rigged a balloon drop and made the cake from scratch. We went all out making it a good old-fashioned party for kids. When everyone had finally gone home, Paul and I collapsed on the couch, and Madi tottered over and asked, “Next year, can I have my party at Chuck E Cheese?” Talk about deflating our egos!!
Well this past Sunday was my birthday, and it got me thinking. I love doing things for family and friends for their birthdays, but I’m so uncomfortable when they do things for me. Don’t get me wrong; I love it, and it makes me feel very special, but I also feel guilty that they went to any trouble. I am equally bad at accepting compliments.
I recently heard two sermons that have nothing to do with birthdays, but they made an impression on me. The sermons were in a series by Andy Conder, an excellent preacher. Before I tell you about the sermon, let me attempt to give you a better picture of her as a person. She is the pastor at St. Francis United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC, and she is a good person - like salt of the earth good. I would say her overriding characteristic is her energy. I’m not even sure the words “high energy” begin to cover it.
A lot of times you hear religious people parroting what they believe they are supposed to say, and a lot of times they will talk about how Christians need to spread the love of God, but their enthusiasm for the job not to mention their very actions tell a different story.
Not so with Andy. She truly loves God and people. Anyway, back to the sermons. The first sermon dealt with giving, tithing. But the second one was about receiving, and she said how you receive is how you give. If you receive like nothing is ever good enough then you are, most likely, going to give grudgingly. If you receive joyfully and thankfully, you are more than likely going to give with an open heart.
“How you do anything is how you do everything,” Richard Rohr explains in a discussion of mystic Julian of Norwich. From the smallest details to the largest projects, are you enthusiastic and energetic, or are you negative and sluggish?
How do we move through our days? With joy and energy? With love for our fellowman? I have to admit I really don’t like crowds and especially at this time of year. In a throng of people, I get frustrated and short-tempered, a little claustrophobic, and probably more likely to utter “Bah, humbug” than “Merry Christmas”. But as we head into the chaos of the holiday season with all its extra traffic, and to-do lists that go on and on, not to mention the long lines in stores - it might be good to keep in mind “how we do anything is how we do everything”.