Wedding rituals I have witnessed firsthand include the lighting of a unity candle, the rose ceremony, communion, and foot washing. But ever since I saw the movie Fiddler on the Roof years ago, I have been particularly fascinated by the Jewish wedding practice of drinking wine and breaking the glass under the couple’s feet. Seven wedding blessings (Sheva Brachot; www.jewishaz.com/jewishnews/970131/tradsb.html) spoken over the cup of wine celebrate the themes of creation and joy.
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Twenty minutes after midnight one of the MCs at this year’s annual New Year’s bash in Niagara Falls, Ontario, asked the crowd, “How do you like the year so far?” The crowd, which had just enjoyed a rock concert and a fireworks display, screamed its approval, oblivious to a fatal bombing in an earlier time zone that had elicited screams of a different kind. That’s the schizophrenic kind of world we live in.
The idea of planning our Advent and Christmas messages around Mary had its genesis at a worship conference at Redeemer University College, Ancaster, Ontario. Keynote speakers Richard Middleton and Sylvia Keesmaat of the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto unpacked Mary’s Song, also called the Magnificat. Ron VandenBurg, a member of our worship committee at Jubilee Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, returned to us full of excitement, suggesting this as our focus.
The computer is on. I’m staring at the screen, stuck on a phrase. Seated on chairs arranged in a half circle around me are the members of my pastor’s class. Their handwritten creeds lie on my desk. We’re involved in the creative process of pulling together their individual efforts into a statement of faith that speaks for all of us—something that includes an idea, a turn of phrase, a metaphor that each person can claim as his or her contribution to the whole. It’s hard work.
After last year's highly appreciated Advent series about angels (RW 37), we have become much more aware of God's messengers and our guardians both in Scripture and in our lives. But that series also started us wondering about what other means God uses to communicate his message to people.