Today, Letty and I celebrate an anniversary. No, it’s not our wedding anniversary. It’s the anniversary of when we became “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.” Back then we called it “going steady.” I think nowadays they call it “going out” – which sounds more like what I do when I don’t feel like cooking! But I digress …
There were two things that marked the peculiarity of this anniversary: First, I asked Letty if I could be her boyfriend. Notice that I didn’t ask her to be my girlfriend. I wanted our relationship to be about “giving to each other” rather than “possessing one another”; something I had learned from John Powell’s book, “The Secret of Staying in Love.” I wanted her to know that I was willing to give myself to her and that I was committed to the relationship, if that’s what she desired.
The other peculiar element is how we mark this anniversary: by the month, rather than by the year. We started this relationship on Sept 2, 1978, but we don’t count today as our 35th year of being boyfriend-girlfriend. Rather, we call this our “420th Month-versary” (there was a time when we called it “Mes-versary” since “mes” is Spanish for “month,” but it sounded too “mes-sy”). I think the reason we did this is because we wanted to celebrate our relationship as much as possible. So the 2nd day of every month became special to us as it marked another reason to “cheer on” our relationship.
We marked other times in our relationship, as well. March 17th is the anniversary of our first date (which started as a “ministry follow up appointment” – another story for another time). We celebrate that date by always going out on a “date” at a nice restaurant. Our first date was at a very fancy French restaurant in LA called “Papa Choulx.” It cost me an arm and a leg, but it definitely made a lasting impression.
Another peculiar way we celebrate our relationship is at a special time during the day: 11:11 (am or pm). Whenever we are together and notice it is 11:11, we will give each other a smooch – to celebrate our “one-ness.” (We had a really BIG moment when we celebrated with a kiss at 11:11:11 on 11/11/11 – both, am and pm!)
And of course, we celebrate July 10th; our wedding anniversary.
Some of you might be saying, “You guys are hopeless romantics.” (Others of you are thinking, “You guys are just plain ‘hopeless!’”) And some of you might be thinking, “What does this have to do with Whole Life Worship?”
“Celebrating relationship” is vital to Whole Life Worship. First, celebration is huge in God’s heart. He established celebration as a central component to the life of Israel through the High Feasts and Festivals (see Deut 16). Celebration culminated the act of Creation (the Sabbath Saturday). Celebration culminated the act of Redemption (Resurrection Sunday). And all these acts of celebration are about relationship; with God, certainly, but also with each other.
I think we live in a culture that does not celebrate enough. People “party,” but they don’t really celebrate. True Celebration is about appreciation, reflection, and togetherness. True celebration gives us traction in the ongoing journey of faith. And because the story of God is the greatest love story of all, celebrating relationship is even all the more important to Christ-followers.
In fact, as followers of Jesus we believe the culminating event of all history will be the celebration of the Marriage Feast of the Lamb (Rev 21), where God and His people will dwell together in a New Heaven and Earth. I think if there was ever an apt description of “heaven,” it is the forever celebration of the love between God and His people.
So on this Labor Day – a day where we rest from work, eat barbecue, and celebrate – I encourage you to take some time to “celebrate relationships”: with those whom you have the honor to love and to cherish, as well as the God who made those relationships possible, and Who created and redeemed us to be in relationship with Him. Spend some time with God and thank Him for His love and for the people He brought into your life. Then take time to tell someone how thankful you are for them – celebrate!
As for me and my wife, we are hopelessly in love – with each other and with God. We believe that our growing love for each other helps us to grasp how deeply God loves us. And we plan to celebrate God’s gift of 420 months together with gusto and passion! For us, it’s an expression of our Whole Life Worship to God.
What “peculiar anniversaries” do you celebrate?
What are ways you can celebrate your relationship with God and others?