Body, Mind & Spirit

Much of the Christian faith – or at least our worship and liturgical cycles – is geared around holidays and observances. Each year we celebrate Christmas, a New Year, Easter and Pentecost. As Americans we also celebrate particular holidays such as the 4th of July and Thanksgiving. The passing of these special days marks the passing of the years, and we often find ourselves wondering, “Where has the time gone?”

Birthdays, however, may trump all of the above. After all, a person’s birthday can have a very deep and impactful significance. We can’t overlook the importance of a 16th birthday, or a 21st, or a 50th, or a 100th. A birthday is a reminder that our existence is important – the world is different because we live in it and contribute to it. Our families, our congregations, would not be the same without those who have lived yet another year.

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the power of birthdays. Every other year I write a handwritten birthday card to every member at Calvary – young and old alike – expressing not only my birthday wishes, but reminding each member of how special he or she is in the eyes of God and how much he or she brings to the congregation and the work of God. I often write birthday poems (usually humorous), and not long ago one mother asked me to write a poem to her daughter, who was turning 13 and was having second thoughts about being a teenager, as if she could do anything about it.

Our church staff always celebrates birthdays with cake. It helps to have an office manager who is a great cook – thanks, Fay! And each year our congregation recognizes and honors those, who are 90+ years of age – a growing and inspiring number.

There is an adage: It is a privilege to grow old, as most people in the world do not get to do it.

How true! We live in a world where, over all, most people die young and where mortality rates in other parts of the world are high. Globally, few people actually live to a ripe old age.

So, if you are one of those who lament the passing of the years, or wrinkles on the face, or those few extra pounds – stop it! Consider how wonderful you are. You are blessed to be a blessing. You are alive to bear witness to God’s grace and love. If you are older – somebody younger can use your wisdom, help, nurture or advice. If you are younger – your energy, passion, gifts and helpfulness can be a great encouragement to someone older.

You’ve got a birthday to celebrate. No one like you has ever existed before, nor will YOU ever walk this way again. You make a difference to God and others. The world is not the same because you are in it! Happy birthday!

Todd Outcalt celebrates his birthday with the staff at Calvary in Brownsburg, but he is encouraged by the fact that he is not the oldest! He writes for children and teenagers in order to stay young at heart and offers laughter daily at He and Michelle Knight’s book, He Said/She Said: Bible Stories from a Male & Female Perspective, is forthcoming from Chalice Press.