Last Sunday, our church held a special service of blessing for a newly-married couple, the husband of which is connected to the congregation through his mother. The mother had greatly desired that her church hold this service. The pastor approached the service with great consideration and, at times, consternation--so great was his desire to make sure that all would feel fully welcomed and satisfied at this event. Proof of the event's being "set-apart" in the mind of the congregation was the inclusion of a tent, sound system, and keyboard. The event began with the youth, coordinated in pink attire, dancing the couple in. Then, the pastor and his wife welcomed everyone to the service, most notably a row of special guests from the husband and wife's respective families. I was given the sermon, using a variety of texts to illustrate my points about marriage. The word hitting close to home in a context of many broken marriages, a number of people responded in an extensive period of tears, prophesying, speaking in tongues, and prayer. As calm returned, a cake was unveiled, blessed, and then cut by the couple.
As in all special events in this setting, a hard-earned (from all the patience and sitting through what has become a long, hot day) meal ensued. The special guests and leadership took the meal together in the house of the mother of the groom, while the youth, children, and other members ate together back in the tent. Our kids, with a few other children who were already there, ate with us on the mother's premises, though they had to wait--in reverse of much North American church culture--until the adults were served first. Our oldest two have finally come to accept this. I fed Levi off my plate and Anna held Jesse. The cold Coca-Cola always tastes so good at these events!
Thanks to Deb Byler, our special guest from Mennonite Mission Network, for the photos.