05 May 2008
Wedding No. 1 in 2008!
Saturday I attended the first wedding of this year. Groom and Bride are both in my bible study group and he used to be a childhood friend as we grew up in the same church (before his family moved away). Both of them just recently became members of our church and so the wedding took place at her home.
I always enjoy weddings and especially Mennonite (bzw. Russlanddeutsche) ones. It´s always funny to see how they try to combine traditions and at the same time meet peoples expectations. These weddings are predestined to always shock some people (either by being very traditional or by being too liberal). And the better I know the couple the more I feel for them.
Things are gradually changing in the Mennonite culture and people are adjusting to Germany (maybe even without wanting and intending to) but still the weddings are very different from a German wedding.
For example you have to invite EVERYONE. Really! When my parents got married they still had to invite every relative they could come up with, however distant. Otherwise they would have hurt the feelings of these people or their parents. Since then a lot of Mennonites from Russia have migrated to Germany and this approach would be impossible. But still we got invitations of (and now read carefully) my parents cousins children’s wedding even this year. These invitations where not addressed to my parents, but my whole family of 8 and remembering that this size of family is not unusually you can guess how big these weddings get and how impersonal.
Obviously the focus on these weddings is on program and not that much celebrating. This ideas roots in the way weddings where held in communist Russia. It was the only legitimate way to have a big gathering of Christians without suspicion and therefore were used as a evangelistic meeting. Of course there was really a wedding, but it included lots of teaching, poems and spiritual songs with the purpose of leading people to Christ.
Although I am not the biggest fan of these types of preaching and singing, I really like the idea of a wedding not being all about the couple, but about Jesus. It is an ideal opportunity for the couple to make a stand for what they believe in and share with a bigger group of people that care about them and are willing to listen. How would a wedding look like where it is all about Jesus? And about giving people a chance to meet him?