Over the years, Rebekah and I have attended more weddings than I could possible count or recall. Rebekah has married people in huge sanctuaries packed with 500 guests, in small church parlors with a few friends, in state parks, on porches, in clubs and lodges, and once in a back garden with just five (the preacher, the photographer, the bride, the groom, and one witness).
She has performed ceremonies on boats, on beaches, and in 5-star restaurants. One of the most memorable was in our living room. One interesting ceremony took place in an ornate Catholic Church, where the priest got into trouble for happily teaming up with Rebekah and recognizing her as an equal colleague in ministry.
We have been involved in weddings costing north of a hundred thousand dollars and some that were pulled off on a shoestring. Happy weddings, sad weddings, joy filled weddings, relaxed weddings, shotgun weddings, contentious weddings, weddings cancelled at the last minute, and even one where the father of the bride offered Rebekah a good sum of money to burn the license rather than file it, and to sign on to his contention that his daughter had not really married the young man that afternoon. (If you’re wondering, Rebekah did not go along with his plan!)
This weekend’s ceremony was a sweet occasion marking the nuptials of two friends from church, who came to this place with eyes already wide open from relationship challenges in the past.
Both Ed and Kathy want to build a life together based on commitment, generosity, trust, mutual encouragement, kindness, mercy, and – most of all – a shared faith.
And there, as the sun beat down in this weekend’s sudden hard turn from spring into summer, I sensed a sincerity and an understanding that often eludes brides and grooms so caught up in the pageantry of playing wedding they forget to pay attention to the simple beauty of shared faith and commitment.
All we can do with the past is to learn from it, and all we can do with the future is to make our way there with integrity, and faithful commitment, and hope. In the meanwhile there is now, and Jesus is very clear about what we are supposed to do with today: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33).
So I toast my friends, I pray that they remember the beautiful simplicity of the promises they made to each other, and I stand in increasing awe at the amazing 42-year journey Rebekah and I have shared so far, grateful for the prospect of so much more to come.
In love, and because love is real – DEREK