Last night I had the privilege of going to an engagement party for a young couple from Iran. They are Mandean which is a minority religion in Iran, so they face oppression which is why they come here as refugees. It was such a blessing to see my friends joyfully celebrate the engagement of the young couple.
One of the many blessings last night was the opportunity to see people I had not seen for years. When the first Mandean people came to my city 10 to 11 years ago, many of them were in an English Second Language class I taught. It was great to see them again especially to hear about their lives. One of them has become a Certified Nurse Assistant. Two have completed beauty school. There were smiles and hugs as we reconnected.
What really caught my attention was the dancing. When the engaged couple entered, they first came to the dance floor and were surrounded by the bride to be’s mother, sisters, nieces dancing in a circle around them. Then there was a father daughter dance for the bride to be and her father. There were other special dances such as two women dancing toward the couple, who were seated at the time, to bring rings on trays to them. Another dance one of the sisters of the bride to be danced holding a knife to cut the cake. She danced in front of the groom to be while he danced in front of her asking for the knife to cut the cake. She would gesture for money and the groom to be would keep taking more money out to hold up while they danced. Then the sisters gave the knife to the bride to be and the couple danced for a while and then danced to the cake to cut the cake.
The dancing was so much fun. The dances were mostly friends and family celebrating together. Sisters danced together. Mothers and daughters danced together. Men danced with men and women danced with women and groups danced together. The party was one big joy filled event. I even got out on the dance floor a few times.
Would Jesus have gone to the celebration last night? All we need to answer that is to reflect on where he performed his first miracle. Whenever I go to an engagement party or wedding for my international friends, I think about the first miracle Jesus performed when he was on earth. He was at a wedding feast in Cana and they ran out of wine. He turned water into wine and it was better than the best wine at the feast. The result was people coming to faith in Jesus. Jesus joined in the celebration of the newly married couple.
Rejoicing with those who rejoice in life’s special moments is part of my life’s work and ministry that I enjoy the most. Experiencing those moments with friends from other cultures has enriched my life and given me a completely new perspective on life. God has given me the opportunity to show his love to people from all the world in many different moments whether moments of rejoicing, moments of mourning, moments of learning, or moments of helping.
Last night was a joyful fun filled evening with people who were oppressed in their home country. Seeing them celebrate and being able to join them was an evening I won’t forget. Seeing former students and hearing about their lives was something that blessed me. It was as if God was giving me many reminders that with him my life has had a purpose and the purpose isn’t over yet. The realization that God was getting my attention last night hit me when one of my Mandean friends smiled and hugged me thanking me for helping her and her children by arranging for my church to help them with deposit on an apartment. So though I went to the party hoping to bless others, I was the one who left blessed and encouraged.
The night was so wonderful that even though I originally planned to go home at 10, I stayed until midnight. I left at midnight only because I needed to be up for church and to teach a class here at church. I am a little tired, but it is an oh so good kind of tired of having had a great night.