It was a beautiful day – not too hot and not too cold. The sun was peeking out from behind the clouds, the breeze was cool, and there was a sense of angels singing in the air.
Saturday, November 7, 2015, marks a memorable day for the family of Eber and Faby Xona, two new members of our church. It is important because it was the day they chose to renew their wedding vows to each other. I asked the pastor if he had ever done a vow renewal ceremony, and he told he had actually never heard of it. This made me realize how big a deal this was for Eber and Faby. In a culture where one’s words means very little and wedding vows are often broken, their choice to renew their vows was a huge statement to the church and to their family.
Eber and Faby spent the first seven years of their marriage in hell. He was unfaithful to her in every way imaginable, and she wasn’t the biggest saint herself. They fought, he drank, she lied; and all of the vows they had made to each other on their wedding day were completely discarded. They were to the point of divorce when they put their kids in our school and started coming to our church. Our pastor, William Mota, started to pray and pour into this family, and three years later he was performing a vow renewal ceremony instead of fighting to keep them from a divorce.
Think about that. We live in a time where the divorce rate is growing at a fast pace, no matter the country you are in. Guatemala has a culture of unfaithfulness tied to its roots. Most men and women here don’t know what it means to grow up with a dad who is faithful to mom. They don’t understand what it is to love one women with all their heart. What they understand is dad works and drinks, he fights with mom, and comes home late at night – if he does come at all. So for Eber and Faby to choose to renew their vows before God, their church, and their unsaved family is an amazing statement and expression of God’s merciful love.
Through tears we all sat and watched as a macho man stood before his wife and sons and promised to be faithful to her, to serve God, to lead and love his family, and to be a good example for his sons. We listened as she pledged to respect him, to strive to become a perfect helpmate, and to care for her family wholeheartedly. Then came the most beautiful part of the whole day, communion.
We have all heard the passage from 1 Corinthians 11 a thousand times, but often we forget the power of communion and we fly by verses 27, 28, and 29.
“Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.”
Those are powerful words, and for a couple that had lived a life of self-pleasure and broken their vows to God and each other, communion was a huge step. But they had done it right! Leading up to this day, with communion in mind, they had taken the time to judge their body rightly. Then, they took the time to confess all their sins to each other and to God. They stood before us completely new and excited to partake in the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
That day, sitting on a mountain top, listening to two people who were once bound by sin take communion, that passage of scripture came to life to me. It is so much more than a ceremony that we do. It’s much more than “Father forgive me, I have sinned.” It is so much more than drinking the cup and eating the bread. There has to be true repentance!
Eber and Fabi had confessed their sins by name to God and they had made things right with those whom they had sinned against. They had taken the time to confess their sins to each other. They had wept together, forgiven each other, and been forgiven by God. They were living out Scripture, and it was powerful and beautiful and full of God’s perfect grace.
I like to think God smiled as He looked on Eber and his family that day. I like to think that above the worship, and the preaching, and all the tears, there was rejoicing in heaven over the lost that had now become found. I like to think that the entire place – saved and unsaved, trees and grass, wind and mountain – felt the presence of God as He smiled with joy because no man or demonic power was separating what He had brought together. Instead, they were coming together in purity before Him to ask that His blood and His body be at the center of a new marriage.
“What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” Mark 10:9