Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Golden Patina: Tribute to my Parents on their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

There are days when the miles between us and the rest of our family seem unbearably far. Today is one of those days. Today, family and friends from all over South Africa will gather to celebrate my parents' Golden Wedding anniversary on their patio that overlooks the lush Emberton Nature Reserve of Durban, South Africa. And my heart longs to be there with them.

Fifty years of steadfast covenant-keeping fueled by their covenant-keeping God, means their marriage has been refined like gold in the crucible. Theirs is not just a faithful marriage, though. It's an intimate marriage. They've cherished each other like you'd cherish a precious piece of antique jewelry. Long after their marriage lost the unblemished shine of newly-wedded bliss, it developed the  golden patina of a priceless antique because they cherished it. This doesn't just happen automatically. A marriage that has a golden patina requires elbow grease. Constant communication, tireless forgiveness, fervent prayer and a bold sense of adventure. And did I mention faithful sex? Yes, that's a thing. 
Patina is what their marriage has developed over fifty years of steadfast cherishing. 

As the Old Bard so aptly put it in his Sonnet

Love is not love 
Which alters when it alteration finds, 
Or bends with the remover to remove. 
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark 
That looks on tempests and is never shaken; 
It is the star to every wandering bark.

Mom and Dad have lived in the same house that Dad built when I was just a year old. That's forty-three years, if I'm not mistaken. Over the years, my inventive Dad has never stopped adding wings and lofts to the now sprawling brick dwelling, which bears my mom's imaginative decor touches. If ever a house was a home, it is the house at 17 Edward Drive. It's no exaggeration that literally hundreds of people have found family, wisdom and solace in that home over the years. I've heard countless people trace their Jesus-story back to some holy moment in Mom and Dad's lounge, as they dunked one of  Mom's home-made rusks into their hand-made coffee mugs. I wonder how many angels they've entertained with their extraordinary gift of hospitality? 

They've served as leaders in the same church for as long as they've lived in their home. The church behind the butcher shop, as it's affectionately called. Long after the butcher shop closed though, Mom and Dad continued to be like Priscilla and Aquila* to that church. If you want to know how to love a church faithfully through thick and thin, ask my folks. If you want to know how to speak truth to power while still remaining submitted to that power, ask my folks. My Dad has admitted that at times he may have been a pebble in the shoe of the numerous pastors at KMC, because he's such a stickler for truth. That may be the case, but I don't know if you could wish for a more supportive couple to have on your team, who fear God, tremble at His Word and love His people tirelessly. I wish they were on the team we lead!  

People are often shocked when they hear that Rynelle and I did our pre-marriage counseling with my parents. "That must have been so embarrassing!" they say. "Especially the session on sex!" they say. It's true. There were some cringe-worthy moments. But honestly, we could not think of a more worthy fixed-mark to look to as we tried to navigate our wandering bark towards faithful covenant. Their marriage has been a more influential model to us than any other. These days we're inclined to value shiny new things above vintage patina, because patina requires great patienceBut Rynelle and I are so grateful for the authentic treasure of Mom and Dad's marriage in our lives, because it reflects the steadfast grace of God for us in such tangible ways, reminding us that patina is not only preferable

It is possible

*a married couple in the book of Acts who had a tent-making business, travelled with and supported the Apostle Paul, and had a church that met in their house.  


  1. So delightfully and beautifully written, my gifted bro

  2. Thank you, bro. So wish we could have been there.

  3. Tears streaming down my face, Alan!! I'm sitting having a quiet time in our beautiful South Africa in my parents' home right now, while my family is at church, as I recover from surgery; and I'm humbled and honored to have been so very much a part of the life you speak of. As we have become established in America too, following God's leading in Andy and my life, as you and Rynelle have done, I can't help but thank God for the wealth of love and wisdom we were enriched with in our simple upbringing.
    The greatest thing that resounds in my heart and memory from the influence of your parents, that I pray we can keep and pass on, is the powerful, God-focused humility that directs every action and word of theirs.
    May we never fail to share this treasure in clay jars...

    Xxxxxx from the other side right now.

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  5. Wonderful words, Jeanette. I agree. Rest well and heal up. Hope to see you guys some time on this side! Love from the USA Frow's