I am still in shock over the death of Prince. He was my favorite musical artist.
I watched the YouTube interview with Prince and Tavis Smiley from 2013. As a devout Jehovah’s Witness, Prince stated in the interview he does not celebrate birthdays. Curious about Prince’s answer about his birthday, I wanted to learn more not only about the non-celebration of birthdays but more about the Jehovah Witnesses. I visited the Jehovah’s Witness website, www.jw.org because I was curious about the tenets of their beliefs.
According to the Frequently Asked Questions page of the Jehovah’s Witness website, “Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate birthdays because we believe that such celebrations displease God. Although the Bible does not explicitly forbid celebrating birthdays, it does help us to reason on key features of these events and understand God’s view of them.” The JW.org site gave four reasons for not celebrating birthdays citing both secular resources and biblical passages. With no disrespect to the Jehovah Witnesses and although birthday celebrations may be rooted in pagan custom, the biblical references made don’t really specify birthdays. The JW site states, “Jehovah’s Witnesses are not preoccupied with the roots of every custom; yet when the Scriptures give such pointed indications, we do not ignore them.” Jehovah Witnesses point their belief in not celebrating birthdays toward the Bible’s condemnation of practicing astrology and all other mystical practices. Jehovah Witnesses do not commemorate any birth including the birth of Christ – they only celebrate Jesus’ death. Their biblical references are Luke 22:17-20, Ecclesiastes 7:1, and Hebrews 1:4.
The JW.org FAQ page does address how Witnesses handle their children’s birthdays by stating, “Like all good parents, Witnesses express love to their children throughout the year, including giving them gifts and having enjoyable gatherings. They try to follow the perfect example of God, who spontaneously gives good things to his children. (Matthew 7:11)”
Celebrate each other every day
Several weeks ago I quoted a statistic to my husband about the average life span of women. “I am going to spend as much time as I can at the beach because I only have 30 summers left if that statistic is accurate.” The truth is – we aren’t promised tomorrow. I may not have 30 summers, 30 days, 3 days, or even 3 hours left to live.
While I do celebrate the birth of Christ as part of my Christian beliefs, I can embrace foregoing the celebration of my birthday and not because I am getting older. Although I am just a few years younger than the artist, Prince, I realize every day is a gift from God; and every day we should celebrate the special people in our personal lives and those who bring us joy.
The artist, Prince leaves behind a legacy, a treasure trove of musical hits along with a vault of unknown recordings. Although my religious practices are different from his, I believe Prince is in heaven as evident of the rainbow that appeared over Paisley Park on the day of his death, April 21, 2016. Some may think this kind of sign means nothing and that I am silly for making more out of this rainbow than just a scientific phenomenon after a rain storm. But I truly believe God speaks to us in individual ways so we may find our faith in His presence and feel His comforting peace.
Keep dancing like its 1999
“They say two thousand zero, zero
Oops, out of time
(We’re runnin’ outta time)
So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999”
1999 Lyrics by Prince
Okay, I may not be able to party like its 1999 anymore, but I’ll be dancing to Prince’s music until my time runs out.
Thank you, Prince for teaching me that it’s not birthdays we should be celebrating but every day God blesses us and celebrating the people who bring us joy. You certainly brought me joy with the gift of your musical artistry. Rest in peace.