Usually birthday parties are marked by cake, ice cream and presents. If it's a really rockin' party, maybe there are streamers (not green, "green is kind of whorish" -Angela, The Office) and music. If it gets super crazy maybe there are even pinatas and pointy hats.
What if - instead of these trite expressions of cultural normalcy - we commemorated by reminiscing about the day of our conception, or even painting verbal pictures of what it must have looked like as we emerged from that most sacred maternal passageway, covered with mysterious goos, blood and something that sounds like "polenta". Well, that would be pretty weird. And nobody would come to your party.
But if in fact we really wanted to reflect on the meaning of birthdays, if we really wanted to engage in a deep remembering of all of life as a whole, this would be the starting point, wouldn't it? Or maybe we'd have to go back a little farther. Maybe the magnificence of life would draw our attention and affection back to a creator-God who fashioned us with great love and care; with the greatest measure of artistic acumen and delight.
Isn't it amazing to think that God, self-existent from all eternity, would spend himself in creating us? When we think about our treasured friends and family aren't we glad that God, who under no compulsion outside his own perfect will and desire, decided to make us historic beings. We have been birthed, breathed into with divine breath, at this point in history, for this specific time. Isn't it amazing to think that even amidst the nefarious rebellion that we have waged against our benevolent creator that he did not abandon us? Instead he took upon himself this same flesh, entered into history by this same messy process of birth and lived amongst us. In the same way that we existentially carry the divine mark of our maker, so we also experience solidarity with our savior even through physical birth. So it's good to commemorate these birthdays.
I wonder what Jesus' birthday parties were like? I wonder if they ate fig cake and frosty bowls of goat's milk? I wonder if Jesus ever felt sad or lonely when his friends and family forgot his birthday? I wonder if he felt really special when people made a big deal about him when they did remember?
Well sister Julie (the next-of-kin kind, not the cloistered kind), today we celebrate the day that you entered this world! You too carry the divine image of your Father and we rejoice that you are here with us, now, at this point in time. Our lives would not be the same without you and our joy not nearly as full. You are a beautiful picture of our Father's goodness and we exult in the day that you came to be amongst us! If we still had your umbilical cord we would all grab a hold and dance around with it at your party, singing songs of remembrance. "Gestation is over, she can eat on her own!", we'd shout. "Huzzah, huzzah, she's emerged from the womb normally", would sound the cries of the guests!
Congratulations on another year, Julie! Way to best the elements! We love you.