You are invited to the wedding of…
It’s “wedding season” in Kathmandu. As people believe, the stars and planets have lined up and the priests have cast the horoscopes. The next week is viewed as auspicious, and the “party palaces” are booked out. Invitations arrive a day or two before the big event, all red flock paper with gold trim. We scurry around to find someone to help us put on our saris correctly.
A well-to-do family wedding goes for days. There’s the bride’s family’s party, the groom’s family’s party, the actual ceremony, the parental blessing… Everyone is invited, everyone with the slightest connection with the family. Everyone must be fed, and fed lavishly. Empty allotments, gardens and even side-streets sprout massive tent-houses for the celebrations, in garish yellows and blues and reds, interiors swathed in highly flammable white nylon. At night, wedding bands shriek their version of some popular Nepali song (or perhaps several, all played at once) into the sky. The band accompanies the groom to the bride’s house, or the bride to the groom’s house, or everyone to the party palace, and is flanked by gorgeously-dressed ladies, dripping with gold. Their be-jewelled saris glimmer in the light of portable fluorescent tubes carried by rather nervous peons, electrical cables slung about them, attached tenuously to portable generators.
It’s all about status, you see. The bigger and louder the band, the more beautiful the saris, the more expensive the hospitality, even the more brightly-lit the event, the more respect and adulation is due to the families of the happy couple. There’s even competition between the two families about to be joined by the nuptials of the boy and girl who seem almost extraneous to the celebrations in their honour.
“At that time, the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom,” said Jesus. A story about a wedding! Everyone loves a wedding. His listeners crowded close to hear the Teacher’s words. They don’t know it, but this will be one of the last stories he tells.
Ten girls carrying lamps! Not much by city standards, but in a village, surely a sign of great importance. It wasn’t unusual for the groom to be late – probably held up by last-minute dowry negotiations. The oil ran out! The crowd gasped. Such carelessness. They could imagine the matriarch scolding the silly girls: “You had ONE JOB…” No wonder the bridegroom locked them out. Half the girls, half the lamps, half the importance. What a disgrace! He would never live it down.
Sometimes the lights fail in Kathmandu, too. They flicker and die, leaving the crowd swirling around in the dark street. Toes are stepped on, sari hems besmirched. The band’s raucous renditions mercifully falter and fade. Peons scurry about, trying to find the loose connection, the broken tube, the faulty power-board. The generator is out of fuel! The crowd gasps. Such carelessness. “You had ONE JOB…” People murmur, someone stifles a giggle. There’s laughter, while the groom fumes. He will never live it down.
We Christians light the way for the Groom, the Son of Man, the Coming King. Our flickering lives show glimpses of the glory of his Kingdom, his endless riches of grace and forgiveness and love. He is on his way to join Heaven and Earth in a marriage that has taken eons to bring about. He is calling us, tiny twinkling candles in a wasteland of darkness, to light the way. He has entrusted us with his reputation, and when we fail, we diminish the way the world sees him. People are watching.
We have ONE JOB…
Breathing the Bible is an INF Australia blog series, exploring how life and service in Nepal influenced the way people read and respond to Scripture.
Lyn Jackson served as Education Advisor and Communications Advisor with United Mission to Nepal along with her husband, Daryl, from 1999–2002 and 2010–2016.
Other posts in the series:
Breathing The Bible: Family
Breathing The Bible: Fellowship
Breathing The Bible: Prayer
Breathing The Bible: Story
Breathing The Bible: Sacrifice
Breathing The Bible: Kingdom
Breathing The Bible: Justice
Breathing The Bible: Gain