Practice Resurrection – Plan a Party for Your Mother

Together with my Mum - Australia 2011

Together with my Mum – Australia 2011

Last night on Facebook, I posted that I had just booked tickets for Tom and I to go to Australia in June to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday. I was amazed at the response, not just the “likes” it received but at the comments by those who remembered special times with their own mothers and fathers. One person shared about taking her mother to Israel when she was in her 80s. Another mentioned that she is heading to Sweden to celebrate her mother’s 85th birthday. Another grieved the fact that she had lost her mother when she was still young and had no opportunity to enjoy the celebrations we are relishing.

When my Dad died nearly 4 years ago, I made a commitment. I decided that I would head down to Australia twice a year to spend time with my Mum. It has not always been easy. The flight is long and gruelling, the work doesn’t stop while I am away and the financial pressure sometimes has me questioning my decision. But the fruit of these visits is immeasurable. The special memories of these last few years are more than I could ever imagine.

Time spent with loved ones needs to be a priority in our lives. If we are too busy or too stressed to party with family and friends then we need to question our priorities. The kingdom of God begins with a great banquet feast and I think that every time we gather with friends and families we catch a glimpse of what that will look like.

Maybe it is not your mother that you need to plan a party for. It could be a friend you have not seen for a long time. Or it could be for your colleagues and co-workers. Or for your neighbours. Celebration is at the heart of God’s kingdom. Jesus’ critics complained that he spent too much time partying – eating and drinking with friends. And he enjoyed that wedding at Cana so much that he made it even more fun for people by turning water into wine. Unfortunately too much partying is not often a criticism people accuse Jesus’ followers of much these days.

So take some time this morning to think about how you could plan a “resurrection party” for those you know and love. What would you need to let go of to free up the time necessary to make it happen?

The Making of Memories – A Glimpse of God’s Kingdom Coming

Sunday is Penecost when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the formation of the church.  It is always for me a special of day of remembering friends and family who provide a glimpse of what God’s wonderful kingdom family will look like.

This year I feel I have had a special preview of that kingdom banquet.  As many of you know I am currently in Australia to celebrate my mother’s 88th birthday.  The big day was yesterday.  We started with a visit to her favourite cafe where the owners delightedly presented her with a special birthday ice cream.

Celebrating at the Little Gem

Shortly after my brother arrived from the Gold Coast and then my uncle and aunt dropped in as an unexpected surprise.   We celebrated with a wonderful luncheon feast, reminisced, shared stories, laughed and enjoyed ourselves.  Today we will celebrate with the rest of the family.

Happy birthday Mum

Hospitality, celebration, the coming together of friends and family are to me, all a foretaste of the kingdom of God. This has been a very special glimpse into the kingdom banquet feast with which we will all be welcomed into God’s resurrection created world.

Family Celebration

Celebrating the Big 60th

Today is my 60th birthday.  Hard to believe that I have been on God’s good earth for such a span of time.  And it has been a wonderful time so far.  I am humbled by the numbers that have contacted me in the last couple of days to share ways in which my life and ministry has impacted them.  I feel privileged to be a part of what God  is doing to transform the world and am so appreciative of the many friends and family who have made that possible. Milestone birthdays like this are not just a time to celebrate but also a time to remember and give thanks to God.

On Saturday we are holding a big celebration.  We are calling it  A Feast of Friends because we want it to be a celebration of those many friends who have walked with me along the way.  More than anything I am aware at this time that I do not walk my journey alone.  There are so many who have supported, encouraged and strengthened me along the way.  There are saints past and present who have been Godly examples for me, providing role models that have made it possible for me to follow God even when the going got tough.  Friends have provided a shoulder for me to cry on when I was depressed, and a loving embrace when I was in need of comfort.

So may good memories and I thought that I would share a few of them with you here in this video.  My apologies to friends in New Zealand where I lived for 5 years .  In the years of travel my photos from that part of my life seem to have disappeared.  But they are still stored in my heart.