Breathtaking is the only word I have to describe the wedding we attended this past Saturday. The bride and groom are two dear people who took God seriously when they were taught that God is a God of second chances. They each immigrated from India years ago. Their relationship started in friendship far from home and now continues in marriage. They joined together in the presence of their adult children, family, friends and church friends who assume the position of family. It was a beautiful intersection of Indian culture and Christian faith.
There are many things I could talk about from this wedding…the colors were electric, the food was mouthwatering and it was definitely a celebration! Scripture was read in English and Marathi. Songs were sung, dances danced late into the night! All were welcome, young and old alike, those dressed in Saris and those in more western attire. It was a snapshot of what I am convinced heaven must be like.
It also made me think of a question raised by the bride’s daughter years ago. She was in junior high and she was introducing me to the caramel macchiato with extra caramel for my first time. Over this decadent drink she told me that she was struggling to figure out who she was supposed to be. When she was at church or school her friends commented that she was not “Indian” enough because she did not fit the stereotypes they held. When she was in India or with her Indian community here in the states, people would comment that she wasn’t Christian enough. She was frustrated and worn out bouncing around trying to be the exact Indian Christian everyone expected her to be and feeling like she was letting everyone down.
That one conversation was a turning point for me in ministry. I still talk a lot about Jesus but I talk about the particularity in which He created each of us. I changed my teaching to encourage future youth workers and ministers to not shy away from issues of culture and not just when addressing racism (though that is certainly important! Another post another time.) I am still trying to figure out what this means in light of a multicultural world. I am convinced more than over that the healthiest thing to do is to talk about culture and to do so in an intergenational way so that we are passing on not only faith but faith as it intersects with culture.
I’ll be meeting with this young woman a little later today. We touched base at the wedding and are continuing our conversation of eight years now. How do we be both faithful Christians and faithful to the cultures in which we have been raised? This is the question that still challenges and encourages me to dig deeper in my understanding of how we are made in God’s image.