On Symbolism of Renewal, Baptisms, and Anniversary Celebrations: December 31

By Kevin Stoda, Oman

When my wife and I married back in December 2008, we had originally intended to undertake a civil marriage ceremony as immediately as possible—right –after Christmas, e.g. approximately on either the 26th or 27th of December.
That ceremony was to be in Kuwait where my wife and I had met.
Alas, in Kuwait,–officially–only people of Ibrahimic faiths are allowed to conduct a civil ceremony. The Ibrahimic faiths (or Abrahimic faiths) are, of course, Christian, Islamic, and Jewish. The civil servant conducting the ceremony requires, therefore , a statement from either a mosque, church, or temple or a state-recognized religious authority that verifies that one is from one of the three faiths.
We were not aware of the trouble involved in gaining this particular document–and so eventually we had had to end up waiting till the very last moments of 2008 to accomplish a civil wedding ceremony. (Moreover, I need to add that previously there was another delay caused by the wait for a single document from the Filipino Embassy, which had also initially led to another delay for us that same week after Christmas 2008).

December 31 Marriages
Naturally, love and marriages are (or should be) guided by our Lord and our faith, so (in the end) my wife and I can state that for some special reason, the All-Mighty had determined that we should first get married on the very last date of the year: December 31.
Finally, as we are celebrating this 3rd anniversary of the civil marriage, I can state that I now know why the Lord ended up choosing the date of December 31 for our marriage.
I should add, however, that I just discovered this insight yesterday at the baptism of another husband and wife yesterday here in Muscat. Let me explain:
It was explained to us during the sermon which preceded the baptisms that December 31 is the date when we look forward to a new beginning or a new star t in life. For example, in the Philippines people like to purchase a new set of clothing at the end of each year, so as to be wearing a set of new clothes on New Years Day. It is hoped or believed that by wearing new clothes on New Years Day, one will be blessed with many new things–and better things–in the coming year.
“This idea of the end of the year and the wearing of new clothes,” said the leader of the congregation, “is similar to the symbolism of baptism itself, whereby one is baptized in water—not to cleanse the person—but to arise from the surface of the water as a new born person who is ready to follow the Lord and change his life and ways.”
Similarly, as husband and wife, who were married on December 31, my wife and I need to see that our December 31 anniversary marks a renewal –not just of our vows—but of our commitment to living a new and better life while putting the sins and intrapersonal struggles of our past year behind us.
In summary, my wife and I were blessed to be married on the cusp of a new year and on the final edge of an old year. We can take time to reflect not only on renewing our wedding vows now, but on the renewal of our entire spiritual, physical, mental, and familial selves.
Moreover, we can reflect on our friends’ baptism, too, (yesterday) and see that this is the time when we need to be arising anew from our old selves and our old ways of 2011–or whatever long year—and really begin putting on our new clothes for whatever roles we are up to in the coming years. In our family that means the roles of either (1) husband or wife, (2) son or daughter, (3) father or mother, and (4) friend or lover.
Interestingly, we are going to a small new years celebration with those who were at the baptism I attended yesterday. Not only will the baptized couple from Muscat be there—but another couple, named Ray and Jackie, who also were married on January1 a few years ago are hosting the New Year’s Eve Bash at their home.
Happy Anniversary, Ray and Jackie!
Happy New Year!
Happy Renewal, too—wherever and whoever you are!

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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