let's party, fireworks, Chilean 4th of July, 18th of September, Fiestas Patrias, let's party, happy anniversary, feliz dieciocho, come to the banquet, party power

Let’s Party!

I LOVE parties! Don’t you? Recently sifting through several albums of photos—print and digital—reminded me of the many parties I’ve given over the course of my life. Today, let’s party.

Of course, when I extend that invitation, you know I don’t mean, “Let’s go out boozing, or carousing,” or …whatever the currently popular term is. Here in Chile, people say “andar de carrete,” which loosely paraphrased means something like “hop on the bar-wagon.” Hmm, no… I don’t mean leaping to the fast lane so we can get through life sooner ?

But I don’t mean boring either. I mean the fun that comes from playing hard. First, let me wish you a…

¡Feliz Dieciocho!

Happy 18th of September! In Chile this week we celebrate Fiestas Patrias, our two-day observance of the nation’s independence. One of the most colorful characters in the Chilean struggle against the rule of Spain is the original guerrilla Manuel Rodríguez, who variously disguised himself as a cowboy, a beggar, a village drunk, and a Franciscan monk while he instigated uprisings and gathered intelligence for the revolutionary leaders. Though his political enemies assassinated him just a few years later, he played an important part in winning liberty for Chile. And the skits spun off his daring exploits are often hilarious—great fun!

In Coquimbo, the Diechiocho celebration officially lasts for three days (apparently the news of independence reached our region a little late back in 1810). For many people, the party stretches on all week as schools and even entire businesses take what amounts to a Spring Break. Practically everyone in the city, at some point, makes a patriotic pilgrimage to La Pampilla, a flat-topped hill at the seaside edge of town. It’s probably not even very safe with all the drinking and petty thievery…but hey, it’s a Coquimbo party tradition (PS…Lots of fodder for Seaglass Sagas there too ?).

Yet fun things happen as well. Parades, kites, horseshoes, folk dances, tug-of-war, greased-pole climbing competitions—and if I start listing the food, this post will never end. Grilled homemade bread, barbecued meats of all kinds, skewers, and empanadas (pastry turnovers stuffed with every possible filling known to mankind)—to name just a few. And I’ll leave it to your imagination what dishes the salad-eating nation of South America can concoct for a party.

Party Power

Many Chilean families get together at this season for weeklong trips or campouts. In a culture that almost worships work, time for play and relaxation is needed. Do we sometimes take ourselves too seriously, I wonder?

Because eat-drink-and-be-merry is a scriptural concept. Of course, tomorrow-we-may-die, but in the meantime… “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This, too…is from the hand of God, for without him, who can…find enjoyment?” (Eccl. 2:24-25). Fun and enjoyment have amazing power to heal, refresh, and rejuvenate our bodies and souls.

“Watching the clock is not the same as watching the sun rise.” –Sophia Bedford-Pierce

Although we don’t party as the world does, we believe in parties! David said (in Ps. 16:11) “…You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” And to wind up a celebration service, Nehemiah, the rebuilder of Jerusalem’s walls, announced (Neh. 8:10): “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to the Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” God’s people are meant to rejoice in Him and enjoy life, more than anybody.  

Happy Anniversary

The first major party I ever hosted was a bridal shower for the engaged girls in our senior class at college. So perhaps planning parties around weddings comes as second nature to me. Later this month I’m anticipating our 40th anniversary. Our “Ruby Wedding”—how fun is that?

Marriage itself needs to be celebrated more, but often even anniversaries are overlooked in this distracted and hyperactive culture. Especially ordinary ones not considered great milestones. Please, my sister, let’s party for the anniversaries—and make an even bigger deal over the marriage. Every day…

In a culture where few respect or believe in marriage, a long one is well worth celebrating. But the truth is, in my home we cheer every year together. And every night we remember again how much we have that so many others don’t.

How did we make it to the 40-year party? Was it sheer luck? Or prayer? Or planning? More than anything, I suspect it was a good dose of both WORK and PLAY.

Come to the Banquet

Like us, Jesus attended weddings, banquets, and picnics. He told jokes and stories and often provided the food. Sounds like a party to me. And who would say God’s temple wasn’t the most beautifully decorated building around? I bet the artisans had a LOT of fun with that.

My Puritan ancestors, with their dark clothes and sermons of doom and gloom, might not have got everything right. But the psalm singing now: “By the rivers of Babylon…” (Ps. 137:1). Ah, music—that also sounds like a party.

Droplet Gift #17: I will play as much as I work. Let’s party! And if the party winds down tomorrow, that’s not a bad thing. It only means we can prepare for the Big Party.

How sad to miss the joy because of busyness. God the King has extended an invitation to His party: “Come, for everything is now ready” (Lk. 14:17) Do we make excuses like the guests called to that wedding banquet in the parable? One was on his honeymoon, but the other two were just workaholics ?.

Don’t you hate having to leave a party early? But what if you depart one party for another even better? As Jesus and His disciples finished the Last Supper, He referred to their next meal together: “I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God” (Mk. 14:24). There’s a better party coming up.

Lord, don’t take me home until…my last party here is over, and I’m ready for the Great Celebration at Your place.

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