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RELIGION: Celebration of life

by Gene Linzey | August 25, 2021 at 5:22 a.m.

What's the big deal about anniversaries? I've asked several people for their opinions and here are two of them. One man in his 90s in California said, "It's just another day. The eggs need to be gathered, the cow needs milked, the pig needs fed, and the sun will go down like it always does. Just another day." A man in Oklahoma told me something that I'll summarize here. "We rejoice at births, make covenants at marriages, and say goodbye at funerals. But celebrations are worldly, and we refrain from that kind of thing."

I understand their worldviews.

The 93-year-old man didn't have much energy left and was looking forward to transferring his residence to heaven. He understood that because he was living to honor the Lord, dying here would be entering eternal life. He graduated to heaven at 99.

My friend in Oklahoma was trying to refrain from the immorality and sinful activities often associated with human celebrations. I honor him for that.

But I have a different outlook.

I'm only 75, and according to my family history I might have about 20 good years left to enjoy life on earth before entering my heavenly home. And, since I also live to honor the Lord, I gladly refrain from immorality and sinful activities.

But many celebrations are actually celebrations of life. We call them vocational, birthday, and wedding anniversary celebrations. Rejoicing with people each year at these annual events acknowledges their value, their importance, and encourages and supports them as they journey through life. No beer or liquor. No drugs. No wild parties. Just celebrating the intrinsic value of life, and valuable friendships. But we do indulge in cake, ice cream, and coffee -- with cream and sugar.

This past Sunday was Carol's and my 55th wedding anniversary, and my 75th birthday anniversary. I often forget my birthday, but I have never forgotten our anniversary. (I have my priorities straight.)

I had planned a short trip and would not have time to plan parties at home. Our daughter, Rebecca, and my wife knew that, so they schemed, connived, and conspired.

Last week, I talked about visiting family and friends in New Mexico and Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Those were the first two parts of a six-part trip that was wrapped around my desire to visit my sister who just moved to Park City, Utah.

In Colorado we wanted to see Mark and Tanya Frost, who had been members of the church I pastored in Springer, N.M., back in 2001-2004. Restoring that fellowship was great and we had a wonderful time.

I had never been to Park City. Situated at 7,000 feet above sea level, the climate is great. From childhood, Janice and I always liked being with each other, and we enjoyed our visit. We laughed, ate at the Loco Lizard, shared memories, and got caught up in current family events.

After visiting my sister, we wanted to visit Mark and Tanya's 21-year-old daughter, Katy, who was not quite 4 when we saw her last. She didn't remember what we looked like, but she had never forgotten us. We laughed, cried, prayed, and established a permanent friendship. She's a beautiful woman who loves the Lord.

Then we visited our other daughter, Darlene, and family in the Denver area. We never tire of seeing her. Then we visited with family and friends in Tuttle and Oklahoma City.

Here's where the scheming came in.

Rebecca and Carol called ahead, and at many of the stops on this trip, they had a birthday party for me. I normally know what's being planned, but on this trip, I was surprised each time.

I'm not self-centered, but watching others express their appreciation and love for me was encouraging -- each time! And I gained ONLY 2 pounds on the trip.

What's the point in all this?

Love each other! Let others know they are important. Celebrate life with each other. And you don't even have to have a party. Just let people know you care for them. When people know they are loved, the hardships of life are easier to overcome. When you love others, it's easier for them to love you, and we ALL need support in these turbulent times.

Jesus agrees. He said in John 13:34, "Love one another. As I have love you, you also are to love others."

Put your self-centeredness aside and invest into other's lives. You'll honor Jesus as you celebrate life with others.

-- S. Eugene Linzey is author, speaker, and mentor. Send comments and questions to [email protected] Visit his web site at The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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