Today is the day. It is the reason Barb and are on vacation. It is the reason we have both turned off our electronics. Twenty-five years ago today we stood at an altar, in front of family and a couple of Barb’s friends and told God and everybody there we would honor, love and cherish each other for the rest of our lives. The day reminds me of a piece of Swiss cheese. Some things are clear as a bell. Other things don't even look familiar when I look at the pictures. It was an adventure planning a wedding long distance. We had purple flowers but not the same purple flowers we had asked for. The cake was the right flavor, but it didn't look anything like it was supposed to. And the music? Let's just say...there was some!
However, we had all the important things right. Our Pastor was a classmate of mine from seminary. One of Barb’s sisters read the first lesson and my Dad read the second. By the time I met Barb both her parents had gone on to the church triumphant. Who would walk her down the aisle? She has two God sons. One of my favorite pictures...one of the things I do remember, was seeing her come down the aisle. One God son was in college, taller than she is. Barb had ahold of his arm. Her other God son was perhaps eight. And he was holding onto her elbow. It was a very serious and important thing he was doing that day. We were younger then. I was thinner and my hair wasn't grey.
Another of my favorite pictures was taken late in the service. We had communion as part of our wedding. The altar area was large, and the altar rail formed a square. It was big enough for the entire family to fit at one time. It was the most important meal we have shared as a family, but not the only meal we have shared. There have been birthday meals, welcome home meals, holiday meals and potlucks just because we could. We have eaten together at baseball, football, volleyball and basketball games. There is always way more food than we need. No one goes away hungry...ever.
We have been richly blessed, not so much with money, but in the life we have had together. We have seen God's hand at work in our lives many times. He has used us, sometimes in spite of ourselves. We have walked through fire together, more than once. God was always there. We might not have seen it at the time, but in looking backwards we could see His handprints all over everything. The things I am sharing can be said by many folks. How many of us has God walked with? And how many of us have gathered at the table with family...either biological or a family we have created from friends? Who among us doesn't have events in their lives that look like Swiss cheese? It might be a wedding. It could be the birth of a child, or the death of a loved one.
My point is, in all the days of our lives we have not been alone. Some of us are fortunate to have found a life partner. Many have been blessed with children. We have had kids too, but all of them have had four legs...and they shed. All these relationships are important. But nothing is guaranteed. We are busy people...all of us. Life is hectic. We run here and there. There is much to do. Sometimes we take the people in our lives for granted, like they will always be there. But scripture tells us that our lives are like a vapor. And those people in our lives...are much more important than many other things we chase after.
Paul's words on 1 Corinthians 13 are for all of us. This is how we are called to live as family and friends. It is how we are called to live as a church and out in the world. When we read the words of verses 4-7 how many of are convicted? Love is patient and kind. Sometimes patience wears thin and being kind is the last thing we might choose to do. Love does not insist on its own way. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It keeps no record of wrongs. Paul tells us “love bears all things, believes all things, hope all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” Some days that may seem like a tall order. It is how we have been called to love. It is how God loves us.
There are many who have been married way longer than us. Some are just starting out. Wherever you are in the journey remember, it is a much better journey when God is at the center of it all. That doesn't mean it will be smooth sailing. That doesn't mean no harm will come your way. It does mean a solid foundation. It does mean that no matter what happens, you will not be alone. Take some time today. Who are the most important people in your life? Have you told them lately? If not, today might just be a great day to do that.
In His grip
Pastor Matt W