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Joy Came Down

A letter by Catherine (Kay) Day, serving in Rwanda

October 2017

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Dear Friends and Family,

Greetings from Rwanda. As you are settling into autumn, we are in the midst of “wedding season.” This is the time of year, while classes are in recess, when our theology students arrange for their weddings. One of the cultural expectations is that pastors in the Protestant churches are married. So, students want to get married before they are assigned to churches. Along with the academic preparations for ministry, they are praying for and looking for a life partner for ministry. It is serious business. This August and September, I have been invited to participate in six weddings.

While there is a prescribed liturgy for a wedding, just as in the States, each wedding is unique and special for the couple and for those who attend. I have enjoyed each of the weddings I have attended, but I must confess that this past Saturday’s was the liveliest wedding service I have ever attended. The bride grew up in a Pentecostal church but joined the Presbyterian Church out of love and solidarity with her groom, a candidate for ministry in the Presbyterian Church. Both the bride and the groom were members of choirs in their respective congregations. Both the choirs came together for the wedding, preparing individual numbers and joint numbers to sing. But they went far beyond that. The traditional wedding practice is that the couple solemnly processes in and takes special seats in the front of the congregation, with their attendants seated behind them. During the course of the service, choirs sing for the couple, even using the couple’s names in the songs. The couple sits and listens with eager enjoyment. Not so on Saturday.

The bride and groom in a blur of dancing with the joint choir.

The choirs, joyfully singing, formed an honor guard for the couple to enter through, some choir members dancing in front of them to lead them in. During the service, each choir sang, and when they joined together, they danced before the couple. The singing and dancing was contagious. The couple stood and joined the choirs. That was an invitation for the congregation to join. The dancing and clapping went on for five minutes. It was a spontaneous outpouring of joy. The vows and the exchange of rings were punctuated by songs and cheers. The reception, also held in the church, continued the tone as the honor guard again formed, this time with sparklers blazing as the couple danced between the lines of friends. It was the most joy-filled wedding service I have ever attended.

As I reflect on it, I believe it is biblical. The ultimate marriage will be our reunion with Christ in heaven, with his church—us—as his bride. The descriptions of Revelation provide us with joy and music of a magnitude we can’t imagine. Why not “practice” here on earth as two of his children are joined in marriage? I rejoiced in this celebration and hope that you may find opportunities for such deep rejoicing in your own lives, if not in weddings, then in God’s creation, in his love, in his presence in your lives. May this be a season of rejoicing in God’s provision and his love.

Yours in Christ,

Kay (Cathie to the family)

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