Preparing for Worship – Brianna Childs, pastoral resident.
Throughout my community-practice specialization of my social work education, I loved learning about community development theories and community organizing processes. (Am I a pretty big nerd? The answer is yes.) In one of those processes, the steps are: organize, analyze, communicate, plan, implement, evaluate, celebrate and sustain. As my class discussed it, I remember being particularly struck by the idea of celebration.
In a society as achievement-based as ours, it can feel frivolous to pause and truly, freely celebrate. We are often pushed to just keep looking ahead to the next task. We ask our graduates “what are you doing next?” because our systems are set up where we have to know the next thing plenty ahead of time. One of the first questions we ask children is “what do you want to be when you grow up?” instead of “who do you want to be when you grow up?” because we are centered around our careers.
You may have heard the phrase before, but indulge me— we are meant to be human beings not human doings. Our identities are not meant to be found in our actions and achievements. Instead, there is something to be said about the glorious resistance of rest and celebration. As we pause this morning to worship and to celebrate our graduates, I believe we are engaging in our own holy rebellion of sorts.
When our world would rather us keep working and keep pushing and keep producing, we can choose what is good — to simply be together and to pause to celebrate the people in our midst who have completed a hard thing.
May we choose to see this celebration even as a spiritual practice in itself. Even if just for today, rather than jumping ahead to the next step, may we gather around graduates at every level, from kindergarten to high school to PhDs, and encourage them ceaselessly. May we break the cycles of achievement-based identity and instead remind ourselves and the people around us of the beautiful things we see in them apart from just what they do for work. May we be fully present to the people in our community and worship together. Then, maybe this celebration, encouragement and rest will be a way of life for all of us.