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Fraser Valley Filipino: Renewal of Vows

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Fraser Valley Filipino: Renewal of Vows
Sabbath Evening, February 20, 2016 was a moment in time that will linger in the memories of a number of people.  Since February is the month of love, the Fraser Valley SDA Church in Surrey BC decided to hold a renewal of vows for the married couples amongst its members. Seventeen couples participated. The energetic head organizer for this momentous event was Susan Olit.

There was much preparation involved. Invitations were especially printed for the occasion and participating couples were given the number of invitations they needed for their guests. 

In our case, two of my siblings from Tennessee and California came since my two siblings here in BC were also renewing their vows. While we invited all our children and their respective families and some close friends, not all were able to come for one reason or another. Some 160 or so guests graced the occasion.

Each table had colourful balloons and a fancy copy of the evening’s program of activities whose cover featured the old wedding photos of each couple. Their respective wedding photos were also projected on the screen while the vows were being said and unity candles were lighted.
The hall was tastefully decorated with the centre stage providing an elegant touch with shimmering lighting behind cascading panels of sheer drapery. Food was catered for the evening.

Attire and cakes were colour-coded according to the number of years the couples were married. Letti and I being married for 57 years had gold for our colour. My shirt and tie were gold to match Letti’s gold gown. For our groomsman and bridesmaid, we had Andrew and Rianna respectively. Andrew is the youngest son of our daughter Lhevinne, while Rianna is the only child of our son Riccoh.  

A high ranking official of the BC Conference, Dr. Ern Brake, did the homily. Vows were done in different ways according to the couple’s preference: some did it with the minister, some did theirs in unison while most of the couples recited their respective sentiments. 

It was like getting married all over again. In fact, to a number of couples, the renewal of vows was actually a more elaborate or formal affair than when they were first married. Many of the wives renewing their vows were actually more excited and less stressed than on their wedding day.  

As guests arrived, they were seated at their assigned places. Unfortunately, there were some who just came without letting those in-charge know that they were coming. Of course, their names were not included in the table seating arrangement.

Regarding renewal of vows, someone quipped: Do marriage vows expire so that they needed renewing?  I don’t think they expire just like a car license, or a rental agreement. For me, it is more of a reaffirmation of one’s commitment to be true to one another.  

For example, here is what Letti said: “Two scores and seventeen years ago I pledged before our Almighty God to cherish and honour you through prosperity or poverty, through ecstasy and agony, and through triumphs and defeats. Growing old with you is the best choice I have made.Tonight in the presence of the Lord’s minister Dr. Ern Brake and all these distinguished family and friends, I simply wish to reaffirm my commitment to you and our togetherness in the Lord’s work with a fervent prayer that through God’s awesome grace and mercy our love story will transcend time and space when Jesus comes to take us home.”

Mine went like this: “Remember when we were first together as one, some fifty seven years ago; we would talk, and do whatever we wanted for as long as we cared to do so? Tonight I would like to let you know, no matter how complicated or crazy our days may get, one simple, timeless truth is forever in my heart: I adore you. 
Close to my heart are the plans we made and the dreams we’ve seen come true; close to my heart are the loving things that you always say and do; close to my heart are the memories of happy times we’ve known; the caring and understanding times and the way our love has grown. I didn’t know I would feel as deeply, and as truly as I do; that I would care as completely, and as unquestioningly; I didn’t know I could love forever as strongly, and as surely; that I could love as I do…until you…
So in the presence of two of our three children, four of our eight grandchildren, four of my eight siblings and three of ten siblings-in-law; in the presence of many friends, brothers and sisters in faith, our Lord’s minister and our dear pastor and his wife, and most importantly, in the presence of the three persons of the Godhead, I renew my vow of love, honour and fidelity to you for as long as I live. So help me God.

By the way, you jokingly commented on Valentine’s Day that it was the first time in our 57 years of marriage that you did not get a card from me. Well, I thought I’d give it a special significance this year by giving it tonight.  So, here it is sweetheart, my Valentine Card for you. You see, to me every day with you is Valentine’s Day.”

Looking back at all the buzz and the excitement of that memorable evening, I am reminded of the grandest celebration yet to come: OUR LORD’S RETURN. Are we making the necessary preparation to meet our Eternal Bridegroom?

Yes, the following details need to be done—the daily perusal of His word and prayer; the doing of good works; the faithfulness in sundry things: Sabbath-keeping, tithe-paying, fidelity to one’s spouse, sharing the gospel message, etc. However, these in themselves do not garner badges for entrance to heaven; rather they are indications that one’s relationship with the Saviour is genuinely ongoing when the sole motive behind such actions is to give glory to God, not to oneself. Hearts attuned to an indwelling Spirit bear good fruit!

After all, who would want to find no oil in her/his lamp when the Bridegroom comes? Let us make sure our names are written in heaven’s list of patient saints by the choices we make each moment of our lives! 

By Romi Talento, Elder, Fraser Valley Filipino Church

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