Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wedding Adventures

On Saturday my wife and I and my kids had the privilege of attending Sergio and Elizabeth's wedding. Weddings in the U.S. are, by and large, standard. Yes, the music is a bit different, and maybe the vows, but the order is pretty much the same, and the church is set up for it...aisle down the middle, steps to a platform. Pretty much standard. Here, however, you need to re-learn how to do a wedding service with every new wedding. There are a lot of variables. Oh, you have no idea.

 I was talking to Cameron (who is back in CA after a week here) about how being a church planting missionary differs from most pastoral positions in the States. Here, you have to do almost everything, from typing out the programs for the wedding, going to Office Depot, cutting them in half, from taking out the seats in your van and transporting the sound system, instruments, wires and podium, from making sure you have two lighters on the table to light the candles, to buying flowers for the front table, to creating the Powerpoint, making sure it is properly coordinated with the order of service (where do you find free, wedding-oriented Christian backgrounds for PP?), finding suitable instrumental music for the background ambient music and both the procession and the...what do you call it when the couple leaves, recession??? (BTW, where did that Kenny G CD get to?, is Enya even appropriate?, and does that boom box accept an MP3 format?, and where is that crazy cord with the red and white ends that plugs into the sound board?). And the baby dedication certificate...really no model to follow there, gotta sorta make it up. Church logo...check. Names of both parents and the kids. Check. Color copy at Office Depot. Oh yeah, baby dedication talk and wedding sermon/devo.

This is a culture big on formality. I'm not really...but do my best to be serious and formal when the situation calls for it. Weddings are definitely one of those times. I even put a suit and tie on. Double Windsor. Formality is safer, to a certain extent, even if a bit more stuffy. It's comforting, really, knowing what to expect. Except that evangelical weddings here in Mexico are still lacking a universally recognized protocol. If you get it too Catholic, well, that's uncomfortable. Of course, you want to avoid copying too much of U.S. weddings. So you get a hybrid. Let me illustrate.

 How many symbols do most weddings in the U.S. have? In some cases, just one. The rings. The rings are circular, symbolizing the never-ending love and commitment, and the high value of the gold...etc...etc... Yesterday, we celebrated five different symbols.
The Candles (representing each family, a bit of an import, but always fun). It was a bit awkward, but it worked.
The Lazo, which is a figure-8 sort of ornate rope that is placed over the couple, binding them together. Celebrated in most Roman Catholic weddings.  Seen in the picture below.  (Cameron, our policeman friend from CA, pointed out that the word for handcuffs in Spanish is "esposa(s)", which is the same word for "wife", which may be part of the reason why he is still single.)
The Arras, which is a small little box a bit bigger than a Matchbox car, sometimes a bit bigger, with 12 (or 13) coins in it, symbolizing material prosperity for the 12 months of the year (coin 13, if present, is to share with the poor). This tradition, turns out, is originally Hebrew (as far as I can tell), and very Mexican as well.
The Bible. The couple is presented with a Bible, accompanied by an encouragement to make the Bible the basis of their marriage. This symbol is primarily done in evangelical weddings.
Oh, and The Rings. Pretty much universal.

Then another program element yesterday...a baby dedication! Ok, so the order in this case was a bit wrong, but it's always good to include your newborn in the wedding if you can. In this case, it was God-honoring. The newly married couple wanted to dedicate themselves to the nurture and admonition of their little girl. We hope that Sergio comes to know Jesus soon so he can carry out his end of the bargain better.  See a previous post for more info on that.

The service yesterday lasted slightly over an hour.  It would have perhaps lasted a bit longer, but I had a Broncos game I really wanted to see, so....just kidding!  Maybe.  Sort of.  Hmmm.

It rained during the reception...rare for this time of year.  We loaded up the seat-less van with our sound equipment and instruments, trying to keep the electronics dry.  After a tasty meal of rice, nopales, tlacoyos, and carnitas, Mayra and I said goodbye to the most important people and headed home.  Around 6:30 p.m.  Apparently the party went till 4 a.m. this morning!

Some of you may know that I was going to be involved in three more baby dedications this morning...turns out that didn't happen, the whole family has chicken pox!  It was, nevertheless, encouraging to be with the brothers and sisters of Sendero 1 this morning, sharing with them a sermon on how Jesus wants us to be like children...dependency, trust, sense of wonder, identity, transparency/sincerity.

We're taking it easy tomorrow.

1 comment:

TINA! said...

you were so serious in fact, you are gong to officiate my wedding if it ever happens ;)