The most interesting wedding I have attended in ages

 

Our friends, Curt and Ria got married today and what a glorious South African one it was!
The happy couple

I need to tell you that I grew up in the old Dutch Reformed Missionary Church, the "coloured sister church of the then Dutch Reformed Church, the N.G Kerk that has an infamous history of supporting and spearheading spitirual and racial segregation in South Africa. My memories of attending the Dutch Reformed Church are dominated by stiff Afrikaans sermons, wearing hats and attending Sunday school only for the first two weeks of each year. We would sing all those beautiful hymns and choruses with such solemnity and at such a slow pace even the organist could take a body break and still be in time to lead us. Everything was so serious!

So today, when we attended our friends' wedding ceremony in the Uniting Church of South Africa, the new name of the old Dutch Reformed Missionary Church in the heart of Rondebosch, I had sort of expected a more relaxed ambience and a mixed audience, because we had moved on over the years. The church is in a previously white residential suburb so I expected to see a beautiful building. The beautiful period building with its stone facade and massive steeple still whispered its history and the leafy suburb in stark contrast to those in townships - these images were there. This is just how it is, given our history and these are generally the observations one makes and the expectations one has.

But on arrival and inside the church, I saw the power of transformation and inclusivity. Perhaps it was the glamour and the magnetism of a wedding that got people hugging and talking, I thought initially. But these thoughts quickly gave way after the Mendel's Wedding March and the appearance of a laughing, smiling pastor who did not even stand on a pulpit or behind the rostrum. And it was Sunday, not a common day for Christian weddings. And it was the morning church service doubling up as a wedding ceremony. I was completely mesmerized.

 

We were all there - young and old, black and white, Christian, Muslim , Jews - I think just about everybody! The pastor was amazing. He warmly welcomed all the guests - friends, family and the resident parishioners as if we were old friends. The hymns - traditional ones and the modern songs - we sung were alternated between English and Isixhosa. The messages of hope were drawn from The Gospel of Matthew and love poems. The musical accompaniment was a potpourri of marimba, trumpets, organs and djembe drums. Eclectic and vibrant. Here was life...

 

Throughout the sermon, the pastor was fully engaged, chatting to us and involved all of us in the message of unions. He used the symbolism of marriage to remind all of us of the importance of relationships and partnerships in life. A key lesson, the pastor reminded us, is that we are all on a journey of self discovery. When we are in a partnership with others - be they personal, professional or social, we must acknowledge that all parties have strengths and weaknesses We need to complement one another, building on our strengths and helping to overcome our challenges. This is what affirmation of humanity is, the acceptance of ourselves as flawed human beings and then in a circle of mutual trust, help one another to grow in faith, and as socially- responsible persons.

The community key sharing and giving

Then the pastor asked us to donate one of our physical keys to Curt and Ria, with an explanation of the message and symbol contained in the key. Many friends passed on keys with messages of undying love, hope, respect, the need to uphold strong values of family, friends and your fellowmen - just a stream of loving abundance that was passed on to the newly wed couple.

I was completely bowled over by the pastor who exuded authenticity and the way he made the wedding ceremony an African celebration of community . Here we were, fully present and participants of a marriage where two partners have vowed publicly to nurture each other forever.

 

 

How blessed Curt and Ria are to have had this amazing spiritual and healthy communal ceremony to mark their life together as husband and wife. Both of them have weathered severe storms in their lives and they deserve to be enveloped in love, care and support at home and in life.

 

Congratulations, Curt and Ria.



And as the Irish say:



May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back
May the sunshine warm on your face,
And the rain fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 

Celebrations. Top pic. Denise and David

 

 

 

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