Monday, June 9, 2014

Making History

I was told we made history recently.  It all started during a video call with my pastor-friends, Jose from Mexico and Domingo from the Dominican Republic.  (My grandparents couldn’t have imagined what we would consider “normal” with today’s technology.)  Domingo was describing the culmination of their series, Building A Fire-proof Marriage.  “We will take a regular worship service and many couples will renew their vows.”  
“That’s great!” I responded.  When he told me the date, I said, “That’s when we will be there; I’m excited that we get to share it with you.”  
“You will be here?” he said.  “Good!  You are preaching!”
Before it was done, he explained that I would not only be preaching, but also conducting the ceremony.  And, as it turned out, he said, “You have to wear a tie.”  The tie thing has become a big joke between us.  In my city, men rarely wear ties.  For years, I have preached in slacks and sport shirts.  Now I usually preach in jeans.  Even in our partner church in the DR, most men don’t wear ties anymore, but this was to be a special evening!
In the course of planning, Jose (our partner in Mexico, who would be translating for me) and I both decided to renew our vows with our wives as we conducted the service for the Dominicans.  Cathy and Maria agreed to go along with us.  It would be unusual and (maybe) a little awkward, but it sounded like the right thing to do.  Then, a couple of weeks before the big event, Domingo explained that they would also have some couples actually getting married in the service.  I understood this, because a church wedding and a civil wedding are two different things in the DR.  
The night finally arrived (their main church service is on Sunday evening) and we marched into the auditorium, about ten couples renewing their vows and four couples sharing their wedding ceremony.  The celebration was in three languages (Spanish, English and Sign), included two pastors and wives renewing their own vows as they led the others and a standing-room only church filled with laughter, whistles, applause and impatience for the couples on stage to kiss.  
At the end, Pastor Domingo said, “We made history here tonight.  We have never done anything quite like this before.”  History or not, it was an amazing evening.
I have long been mystified, in awe of something the Bible says to describe the culmination of life as we know it:
7  Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself.
8  She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.
9  And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”
Revelation 19:7-9 (NLT)

Paul, the Apostle, wrote that it is a great mystery, but his description of marriage (Ephesians 5), is really a picture of the God’s intended relationship between Jesus Christ and His bride, the Church.”  Given that description, Our Dominican celebration surely filled His heart with joy.  
Our “Life Repurposed” series continues this weekend at Stone Ridge Church.  While we may not make history, I have seen a preview of the message and can’t wait to hear it live.  I hope to see you there; if you can’t join us, catch the podcast

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