“A celebrant is someone who takes a memory and plants it deep inside your heart in such a way that it offers continual moments of grace for a lifetime…Pain and anguish naturally plant themselves deep inside…moments of celebration take time and intention to be planted and grow…we need more celebrants in this world.” – Dr. Lawson Stone
I heard this shared yesterday at a funeral for a wonderful woman who was in every sense of the word a celebrant. The tributes from her children had a common thread – their mom loved life, loved them, and loved people and she strove to create lasting memories in every interaction she had.
We need more celebrants in the world.
My husband once said to me, “As a society and as the church, we know how to party, but we’ve forgotten how to celebrate.” As parents, we have the unique opportunity to do that, to celebrate deliberately and intentionally, with our children in a way that takes a fleeting moment and makes it last a lifetime. And as ministers, we have the even greater opportunity to connect those moments to our faith and take them from lifetime experiences to eternal blessings.
So how can we do that? How can we be the celebrants this world needs?
Here are five ways that we, as parents and ministers, can take a moment and make it last a lifetime and beyond.
Make It a Big Deal
One of the stories shared about this celebrant mother was playing in the swirling water that went down the drain after bathtime. Such a routine, everyday, boring thing, right? But not to this mom. Oh no, the end of the bath meant watching with her child as the water drained away, playing in the swirl, saying good-bye to the bath. Such a simple moment but one that became a special time of connecting with her children in such a way that it remained with them years later.
Simple moments become lifelong moments when celebrants make a big deal out of them. Celebrate the smallest victories. Point out the tiniest details. Connect over the mundane and bring it to life.
Hit “Pause” on Life
Life comes at us 24/7, full speed ahead. Celebrants hit pause. They say, “Everybody STOP!” And when they do, celebrants point out the beauty in a moment.
My kids know I like to do this and they know that the next thing I will probably say, “Look at the sky!” They make fun of me for this. They roll their eyes and say things, “Yeah, mom, it’s looks like a sky.” But the other day, they came running inside yelling, “Mom, come quick! You gotta see the sky!” And we all stood together watching a beautiful sunset. We paused life…and celebrated together.
“Pray For Me”
Prayer is the opportunity to talk to God, the Creator of the world, anytime, anywhere about anything. It’s a celebration every time. Celebrants use prayer to celebrate, whether it be a blessing to start the day, a petition to get through the day, or worship to end the day.
As I was writing this, I prayed for my daughter before she left for school. Two minutes later, she asked me to pray for her. I said, “I just did!” She said, “Well, I don’t remember and that’s the important part. Can you pray for me again?” Of course I did. Prayer is a celebration, every time.
“See” the World
I’m not talking about traveling; I’m talking about letting your children know they are part of something so much bigger than their town, their church, their family. Celebrants open their homes and hearts to others.
The mother who was honored yesterday did this by continually opening her door to others (the kids said they never knew who’d be at the dinner table or sleeping in their home) and by placing a world map in their dining room to remind them that there was a great big world out there, full of life and light and families just like them. One child shared that their mom saw her role to the world as “taking care of Jesus’ family” and that every person was a part of that. It was a celebration of life, all life, and it planted itself deep in her children’s hearts.
It really is often that simple for children. To make a moment last a lifetime, just have fun. Celebrants seek ways to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary; the mundane into the majestic.
Long, arduous car rides turn into memories of playing the ABC game, hearing mom read stories, getting special snacks only for those times, stopping at random places to run around and have fun. Cleaning the house turns into a dance party, complete with loud music and mop handles as faux microphones. A walk in the woods turns into an adventure through the magic forest to the land of Jibbers (this is one of our family’s favorite fantasies that Daddy made up one day). It’s laughing together and taking the time to make sure the memories get planted deep within.
In Disney’s movie, Inside Out, many memories go “inactive” and end up being tossed in the “Memory Dump” where they are forever forgotten. But some memories, the ones that are planted deepest, become defining moments that build the character of the individual. The “Core Memories” create the “Islands of Personality” from which flows the actions, attitudes, and behaviors of the person.
In this context, celebrants are the ones who make those core memories stick. We have an incredible opportunity to celebrate life with our children in ways that will form them forever.
So, make life bigger, pause and take it all in, pray with your children, let them see the great big world we live in and just have fun! Celebrate!
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- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Discipleship in Intergenerational community
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- Seminars, Workshops, Coaching
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About this Blog
Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family and Seedbed
My son naturally celebrates life and my husband and I often remark about how he can make anything into a holiday. Just this morning he proclaimed that today is favorite pen day and got everyone in the family excited about it and searching for their favorite pens. I overheard my daughter tell a family friend that today is favorite pen day and convince her that it was a real thing. He helps me remember to make little things special and to share my joy and excitement without shame or embarrassment.