Sunday, October 15, 2006

A "White" South African Wedding

You may be asking why I put the word "White" in the title of the post. Well, here in South Africa, there are 11 different official languages with 11 different cultures. Now, the white population, English and Afrikaans speaking people, have similar cultures. The wedding we attended this Saturday involved Afrikaans families, but English was the spoken language. And even though, white South Africans have a westernized world view, it is not United States view. There are differences...Thus, my post for today!
We were invited to the wedding of a fellow pastor's daughter. The first thing I noticed is that you are not escorted into the church (or chapel). The groom and several groomsmen were standing in the foyer, putting on their ties and jackets, and talking with the arriving guests. Also, it didn't matter on which side of their church you sat; their was no groom's side or bride's side. I asked a recently married friend if this was the norm. She told me that in some weddings of the wealthier people, they will escort women guests to their seats.
The parents and grandparents did come in right before the wedding started but were not seated as part of the ceremony. Although I do not know if this was normal, the church was not decorated with an abundance of flowers. There was one large floral arrangement at the front of the church. That's it!
The wedding ceremony began with the entrance of the Flower Girls. The Page Boy walked in along side the girls, but not holding the rings. He was the Page Boy, not the Ring Bearer. Much of the rest of the ceremony was like weddings in the States. The only other real difference was the signing of the "register." This ceremony took place at the end of the wedding, however, I was told by my friend that many do this in the middle. The bride and groom sat down at a table in front of the congregation and signed the register. The "register" is like the marriage certificate in the States. However, in South Africa, it must be signed by the bride and groom on the day of the wedding in front of the presiding minister.
At the end of the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom left the church as we threw rose petals at them. But, the reception was still to come!
The reception was run by a Master of husband, Kurt! This, to me, was a great idea. He announced the arrival of the bride and groom to the reception. He directed everyone to begin eating their starter (appetizer). Then, he introduced the Best Man, father of the bride, and groom before they gave their speech and toast. He gave directions on how dinner was being served and when everyone had eaten, he introduced the cutting of the cake, throwing of the garter and bouquet and first dance by the bride and groom. Of course, my husband told a couple of funny stories along the way! Besides having a Master of Ceremonies, the reception held a few other differences from US weddings that I have attended. The cake was not tiered. There were layers, but they were arranged separately and on pedestals of different heights. And, there was no groom's cake. The cake was not served to the guests. Other desserts had been provided during the meal.
But...even though there were differences and this wedding was not as formal as weddings in the was beautiful! The bride was gorgeous, the ceremony perfect, the reception a delight!
May Megyn and Raymond enjoy their life together, centered in the love of Christ our Lord!! Blessings to you both!
(By the way...I did attend the wedding of one of our black pastors. Maybe, I'll enlighten you on that day soon!)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Teachable Moments

Yesterday, I was reading my Bible in Mark, chapter 4. I got to the part where Jesus is inside a home and some said to him that his mother and brothers were outside wanting to see him. Jesus' reply was to ask, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" His reply to this rhetorical question was, "Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother."
I always thought this was a rude way to reply to his mother and brothers until I got to thinking about what was not recorded in the Bible and the situation Jesus was in. He was surrounded by people and busy teaching them. He did not get up and go outside and ask that rhetorical question. His mother and brothers could not have heard him. He used this moment, the statement about his family to teach those around him something new. He saw this instant as a "teachable moment" and he couldn't pass it up! (I always like to believe that afterwards, Jesus goes out to see his family or he invites them in with him.)
How many "teachable moments" have I passed up? How many have I taken? A friend of mine took an opportunity to share God's fatherly love with her grandson as they were talking about finding Nemo. Her grandson made the observation that Nemo's dad went to great lengths to find Nemo. My friend replied that God goes to great lengths to bring us to him, because of His great love for us! Wow! Would I have thought of that?
Tonight, I had my opportunity. Ruth Anne received one of those chain know the ones...they start out with "Fw:Fw:Fw:" in the subject line and end with "send this to ten of your best friends." Well, this one told of people who died because they didn't forward it on and ended with "if you don't send it to ten people in 3 hours after reading this, you will die." What is a 13 year old to think? In Ruth Anne's words it "freaked" her out! She didn't want to send the rubbish to her friends, yet it put the fear of dying in her. She said to me, "I want to trust God. But it's so hard. I don't want to die." I took that opportunity to share with her about Abraham. I told her it took many years for him to develop trust that even though God asked him to sacrifice his only son (from Sarah), Isaac, God had a plan! And God did! He stopped Abraham before killing Isaac and provided a ram for him to sacrifice instead! Abraham had faith! But, that faith was developed over time. Abraham made mistakes along the way. His faith gave out on several occasions. Ours will, as well. I told Ruth Anne that this was just one step in her walk of faith with God. She found a verse 8 in Psalm 4 that says, "In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." I encouraged her to take a step of faith. Trust God in this verse. Lie down and sleep, trusting Him to keep you safe...and alive!
It was a great moment with my precious daughter. How I look forward to more teachable moments like this, with both my daughter and my son! I pray that I would not miss others that God gives me!