This past Sunday, Good Shepherd celebrated my supervisor's 60th birthday with a party that put our Rally Day in September to shame. Sure, Rally Day had lots of games, lots of food, and lots of mingling and laughter, but for some reason, this birthday party was able to draw an even bigger crowd. The celebration had been hyped for well over a month, with promises of a feast full of the pastor's favorite foods. There was pizza from his favorite pizza place, Italian beef sandwiches and Chicago dogs from his favorite Chicago-style fast-food joint, Tootsie Pops, root beer floats, lemon-fluff cake, and obligatory salad.
Oh, and the Pastor kicked the party off with a mile run measured out into laps around the building. After the second service, the congregation filed out of the building, stood all along the path, and cheered him on. 30 vuvuzelas, a dozen signs made by the Sunday school kids, noise-makers, pom-poms, speakers blasting "Eye of the Tiger," and 400 people cheering created enough adrenaline for our pastor to complete the mile in 8:25. It was a spectacle to behold.
The mile run was not only a test of one man's health after six full decades lived, but it was also a fundraiser for our upcoming Habitat for Humanity build. Congregants could pledge a flat amount or a variable amount, based on the number of seconds the pastor finished the mile in under an hour (He was 95 seconds under). For some reason, the people of this congregation came out of the woodwork, not only for the spectacle and food of the party, but also to donate to this great cause, far exceeding the unofficial goal we hoped to raise.
Sometimes, it's just good to celebrate like this. Sometimes, it's just good to raise money for a worthy cause. And, sometimes it's just good to join together in a crowded family life center and to find the joy in living as a community free in Christ to celebrate the blessings in life. Because this party wasn't simply about the pastor's birthday. It was about celebrating the people God has surrounded us with.