For all of you un-Latinofied people out there it is not called a Quesadilla but a Quinceanera. It’s not cheesy and there are no chimichanga’s involved (what is a chimichanga anyway?) although at the reception we did have loads and loads of Fajita’s, and they were good!
When my family moved from Michigan to California my children further discovered their Latin roots and culture as my wife is a second generation Mexican and our extended family is enormous. We don’t go out for Mexican any more. We have it regularly at home and especially when the family gets together for a BBQ (Carne Asada), for Thanksgiving (Chumpe) for Christmas (Tamales) and New Year’s (Menudo – Yikes!).
Now apart from great food, one of the wonderful cultural influences that we have come to love is the Quinceanera celebration which is a “coming of age” birthday celebration for a young lady on fifteenth birthday. I could say that it is simply a birthday on steroids, but you might get the idea that what I am talking about is bigger and better dunk tanks, inflatables, giant hamburgers and the like. But that isn’t what I want to convey.
Let’s just say that a Quinceanera is a birthday party of sorts but the emphasis of the celebration is a much more purposeful time to rejoice with her, to challenge her and to encourage her about the life she has to live beyond that birthday.
Now, I am a pastor and the reality is that ‘most’ Qunceanera’s are written and formatted from a Catholic perspective, so I was forced to create a Gospel-Centered Quinceanera for my two daughters taking the elements traditionally included in the Quinceanera and bringing God’s Word and His Gospel to bear.
What follows is the ceremony that I developed for any of you who may be in my shoes wanting to honor their daughter’s with a Quinceanera, or their own “coming of age” ceremony, from a Christ-Centered perspective. Please feel free to use and adapt as you see fit. It worked exceptionally well for us and if it can help you I am more than happy to share it.
Now, there is some preliminary stuff to consider.
- Selection of Dama’s – I find it best to describe a Quinceanera as a wedding without the groom (may it never change!) So, my daughter selected eight of her close friends to be her “Dama’s”, much like bridesmaids in a wedding.
- Officiator – Although I am a Pastor and, therefore, it was natural for me to preside over the ceremony. I would like to encourage every Dad to consider an opportunity here. I can’t think about a much better way for a Father to honor his daughters. If you just don’t feel comfortable then ask your Pastor, maybe the Youth Pastor or someone who knows your daughter well enough, rather than a stranger. This is too intimate a ceremony for pure formality.
- We did have two special numbers sung from two friends, another friend play the piano for the prelude, as well as a DVD slide-show of my daughter’s life and some Scripture Reading.
- We included a time for “Encouragements” where those in attendance were given opportunity to say some words, Scripture or some memories.
- We also selected two of the Dama’s to share something specific and to encourage our daughter to live her life for God’s glory, etc.
- My wife and I presented our daughter with a ‘purity ring’ praising for her purity and encouraging her to keep herself pure for the man whom God would bring her way in marriage.
- Grandma & Grandpa presented her with a Bible emphasizing the need to keep God’s Word central.
Below is the core of my Charge to my daughter. Of course, there was much more meat on the bones of this outline and you will come up with your own stories and explain God’s Word as you see fit and appropriate for the occasion.
- Your Birth – It is etched in my memory as one of the hardest times in my life…I got a phone call at the church that Mom was in excruciating pain and that the EMT’s were on their way…I arrived home to find her in the care of the Fire Dept. but still in great pain…as I followed the ambulance to the hospital all I could think about was the real possibility of losing you or mom in the whole ordeal. The doctors at the hospital couldn’t determine why Mom was in so much pain and your heart rate was increasing, so although you were 7 weeks early, they recommended an emergency C-section. You were born and mom was safe, but for the next two weeks you were under special care, and mom and I would spend hours just holding your hand and rubbing your tummy…
- When we finally took you home – I told you mom, “She looks like a Rubber Chicken” – so scrawny, with long legs…
- You would eat like a Rabbit – And we wouldn’t let you leave the table until you finished a tiny portion of food…
- Your three pointer against “Head Royce” – and all your excitement at the fact that you made a basket.
The Quinceanera is a “coming of age” ceremony that emphasizes the transition from girl to womanhood. Its purpose is to emphasize the following realities in your life…
1 The Centrality of God in Your Life
4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 (ESV)
- That verse sounds like the cultural message of our society saying, “follow your heart”, but that isn’t what God is saying here.
- God hasn’t promised to give you the desires of your heart. What he promises is that when you delight in Him that you will be changed and conformed to His will and ways so that in turn your desires will be conformed to His desires.
- What that means is that His desires will then be evident within you and that your desires will be a reflection of His desires in you. They will be your delight just as much as God is.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1–3 (ESV)
2 The Importance of Family
- You are stuck with Family and Family is Stuck with you! The ties of “Flesh & Blood” are strong and that’s a good thing – in good times and bad.
- Look around at your family. They are here in support of you. Many have labored hard to make this day possible and they want the best for you.
- Family is always a resource that you can turn to. So be sure to love, serve and honor your family. The instruction from God’s Word to “Honor your parents so that it will go well with you” doesn’t end with becoming a Young Woman. No, it is a life-long commitment.
3 The Embracing of Adulthood Responsibility
- With age and maturity comes greater responsibility, a responsibility that is generated out of initiative.
- Responsibility means that you “want to” because it is “right”, not because you are being “told to”. It is taking ownership of your place and role in the family, in the church, with your peers and in your community.
4 The Selflessness of Service in your Community & Church
- Your place in the church is to use your God given gifts for His Glory. Find your place, use your gifts: your voice, piano playing, encouraging personality, writing ability, your energy.
- Your place in your community is to shine the light of the Gospel by living a life consistent with God’s Word and then doing Good Works as a testimony to His Name.
- Note: I found this a great place to share the Gospel in the ceremony and to give a rational as to why living for God’s Glory as a faithful child of God is so important for the believer and for a young woman.
5 Establishing Friendships that will help you do all these things…
- Friendships are important to growth and character. You must choose your friends wisely as well as seek to be a Godly friend to others, to influence them toward Christ-likeness and the principles you are embracing and affirming today.
- Note: I referred back to Psalm 1:1 and to the reality that bad choices in friends is a quick entry point for failure in the principles already mentioned.
When I think of all of these qualities my mind goes to a Biblical example…
Ruth – She was Loyal to God, to her Family. She took on Responsibility by caring for her Mother in Law, working tirelessly and both selflessly & humbly pursuing the good of the family through the line of Boaz.
- God honored her for her selfless loyalty to her family and to her responsibilities even when most others would have walked away.
- Becoming a Young Woman is a time to dig deep and be strong. It is a time to take on hard challenges and to do all those things knowing the power and presence of God in your life.
- I want to leave you with one passage of Scripture that encompasses all of these essential qualities. It is familiar, but that is because it is so rich.
5Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5–6 (ESV)
I wish you could see how beautiful you look today. God has truly blessed you and Mom and I with your beauty. I am thankful for that. But please understand, the beauty that lasts is the kind of beauty that comes from the inside out. It is a beauty of Character. Of putting God first, honoring family, taking on responsibility and serving others. These are all activities that come out of a heart of Character.
May God give you strength, wisdom and discernment as you seek to live your life for His glory from this day on.
Note: I hope that this can be a help to others who want to think through ways of encouraging their daughters to live for God’s glory!