Celebrate: receive the surprise of each day
What has surprised you recently? Were you able to celebrate that surprise? The quote from Nouwen challenges me to celebrate both the things that bring joy as well as sorrow. In our Messy Church training, when we teach about the foundational value of Celebration, we mention that at Messy Church we celebrate good times and tough times. Engaging in tough conversations, acknowledging our pain as well as our joy is embracing the messiness of life. In John 10:10, Jesus says that he came to bring life in all of its fullness. A full life encompasses receiving it all.
I traveled to Northfield, IL earlier this month to meet with Johannah Myers from South Carolina and Ronda Bower, our host from Northfield, IL. We gathered to see the space for our #celebratethemess24 conference and to continue our planning. In a span of 72 hours, I celebrated visionary planning with colleagues, the welcoming space of our host church, some great Chicago food and some breaks from our work to discover the beauty of our nearby Chicago Botanic Garden. In addition, I experienced the surprise of the chaos of airline travel and grief of saying goodbye to a dear friend as she passed on from this life.
Below is the list of the items that I am celebrating!
Celebrate the Mess Planning
- Joining Johannah and Ronda to see the space, dream together and make plans to make our imaginations come to life this coming April
- The welcoming and beautiful space of Northfield Community Church, the location of our Celebrate the Mess Conference
- A jam-packed conference schedule of events for the weekend
- Time to review the exciting workshop proposals for the conference from a diverse group of Messy Church leaders
- A planned “Welcome to Chicago” dinner planned for the Thursday night start
- A comfortable hotel for the conference (Johannah and Roberta shared a room and slept well!)
- Close by add on adventures for conference attendees such as the Chicago Botanic Garden just 15 minutes from the church
Celebrate the Mess: Travel Surprises
- Safe arrival to O’hare airport even though a delay of 4 ½ hours
- A new plane to take us from Denver to Chicago after we boarded and then deplaned twice due to mechanical issues with the first plane
- The comradery and conversations with plane mates as we waited, and waited and waited
- A nice hotel bed waiting for me when I arrived at 2 am
- No drama travel for Johannah as she had a nonstop flight
Celebrate the Mess: Surprising grief
- On the plane on the first day of my trip, I received an email from a friend telling me she was entering hospice after a five-year journey with cancer
- The email was basically a goodbye and a thank you from her to a group of us who had met monthly for zoom calls and met yearly for several days together
- She passed away, surrounded by her husband and daughters, just three days after entering hospice
- In the pain of grief, I look forward to joining with her friends and family to celebrate her life and the impact that she had on so many people
- May you experience God with you as you experience any sorrow or grief in your life
God is with us in the mess! Thanks be to God! Two hashtags Johannah has begun to use for the April conference in social media are #celebratethemess24 and #withusinthemess. The hashtags remind us that when each day brings a surprise of joy, sorry, pain, or ecstasy we know that God is with us at all times.
May we all celebrate the surprises that will “open a place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.” (Nouwen). We look forward welcoming you to Celebrate the Mess as we welcome new friends, learn new ways to sustain our Messy Churches and celebrate that God is with us in the mess! Registration for the Celebrate the Mess Conference opens in October!