31 December 2008

Dearly Beloved...

(original drafted on Dec.31/08)
Some friends from the Pearl got in touch with me today with a challenging proposition. They are getting married here in Tapei on Jan 10th and they would like me to be the officiant/pastor at their ceremony. The groom's childhood friend, who is a pastor, backed out at the last minute and they need someone to do the ceremony. They've been off and on members of the Pearl and I totally want to help them and support them on their big day. It's quite last minute and I'm freaking out but I know that it's the right thing to do. This will be my first wedding gig so despite the nerves it's an encouragement as I move into my ministry calling.

So I sat down with the couple to discuss the wedding plan. In my mind we were meeting just to discuss some of the "pastoral" details of the wedding, such as what vows to use, sermon style and ideas and rehearsal/ceremony times. But to my surprise they had no plans at all in place. They had no music/musicians, no readings/readers, not many ideas about personalized ceremony structure....wow! So not only was I speaking on stage but i was also wedding planning. AAHHH! I think it was the short notice that freaked me out. To explain a little...the wife is Taiwanese and here they don't do wedding ceremonies (since they aren't Christian as a culture), here they have a family get together that officializes the union and then they have a big banquet to celebrate. In general, in western culture, the wife plans the wedding but in this case the wife didn't know what a wedding entailed. With Nevada's help and some great internet resources we sculpted a nice traditional wedding that ended up going smoothly and totally meeting the couple's expectations.

It was an unnerving but amazing experience. I felt like I took a step in the right direction as far as being a "real" pastor. God really came through in giving me a calmness and a confidence to stand up there and deliver. It's a rewarding thing to see two great people joined in marriage especially in this world that seems to be less and less interested in the value of a lifetime commitment before God. It was also a good growing experience to put together a wedding sermon. Of course I've heard many and am familiar with some of the standard wedding Bible verses but I wanted to come up with something a little bit unique. I'm sure that doesn't surprise many of you that I wanted to be different. So here's what I did...I put together a little gift box of four items. The purpose for the box was that I wanted to leave the couple with something tangible they could reflect on in the future. I feel like people are so frazzled on stage at their weddings that they don't really take in the sermon. They listen and appreciate it but the whole experience is a bit of a blur. The four items I included were: a Cross, a piece of Rope, a stuffed toy Heart, and a bottle of Glue. The Cross represented sacrifice, referencing Jesus Christ as the ultimate sacrifice. Marriage, of course, needed each person to sacrifice and serve like Christ. The Rope representing the cord of three strands from Ecclesiastes. This was to remind the couple that they needed to have God involved in their marriage for strength. The Heart to represent romance and fun. I read from Song of Songs (Soloman) about passionate love and encouraged them to keep the spark alive. And the Glue was to re-enforce the idea of commitment. They are now stuck together for life (not in a bad way) but in a blessed union, two become one sort of way. I thought it was creative and unique. Mostly I hope that they can pull out that box every couple of years and remember what the lesson on marriage was and re-evaluate where they are at from time to time.

I hope to be a able to officiate many more weddings in the future and see many people commit to a life together under God. Another first for me in a year of firsts in my life as a pastor...
(pics will follow soon)


Anonymous said...

Great idea - you're always such a creative guy! BTW, I'm loving that coffee you sent me.

Grandpa Steve said...

Well you certainly got the peak of the cultural impact!

Life keeps ticking.