Traditions are a part of life. They are the ways in which we celebrate life and special events. Every country has their own traditions and Peru is no exception. They have lots of different traditions but the one I want to focus on is the first year celebration, that is, a baby’s first birthday. This tradition can include blessing from a catholic priest and baptism. One of the other important aspects of this tradition is of the padrinos, or godparents, making a commitment in front of family and the catholic church to look after the child in their life. It is a very important event and generally there is a big party afterward.
For our newest christian sister, Sandra, this was a hard reality as her son was about to turn 1 year old and her family had recently told her they would not be taking part in these traditions with her because she is no longer catholic and Harold was born out of wedlock. She approached Megan and talked with her about how sad this made her.
And here is where I got to learn something beautiful about the church and the family of Christ.
In our monthly church service in October, we held a celebration for Harold and his first birthday. It was not only a celebration, but was also a time as a church family to bless Harold and fill our role as family and become “padrinos”. Paty read a blessing over Harold expressing our joy at his life, recognizing how we are to be more like him to come to Jesus, speaking words of hope for his life and future, and stating that while we are his family, no one will ever love him as God does, and that he will always be able to seek God. The church stood together and made these commitments to Sandra and Harold:
- to accept Harold as he is, to recognize that he is made in the image of God and to love him as such
- to help Sandra raise him
- to remain close enough to know their needs
- to strive to be an example for him of a righteous life and of dedication to the Lord
- to teach him in word and action about the love of God, and about how to be part of a family, guiding him in his path
- to respect Sandra as his mother and as the authority over him
After making these commitments we prayed over Harold, gave thanks to the Lord for his life and asked for his blessing on Harold’s life.
It was a beautiful image of love and family. Sandra shared at the end of the time how grateful she was for this and how much it meant to her.
I am so grateful to be part of the Peruvian family here, to have celebrated the life of Harold and make that commitment to him. It was wonderful to see the transformation of a catholic tradition taken into a different context so that we could love God’s people in ways meaningful to them.