Several years ago, I decided I was done doing weddings for people I didn’t know. I felt like a hireling who sometimes worked without pay. I didn’t like the way it made me feel or the way it looked to me.
People who would barely be caught dead in a church at any other time except maybe for their own funeral wanted a church wedding. They’d show up out of the blue, asking to use the church and the preacher. Sometimes one or both of the couple would say, “I’m a member here.” Folks, if the preacher has been preaching at your church for five years and has never seen you before, perhaps you should re-think what it means to be a member of that church.
Unless there is a strong tie to some relative you do know, performing weddings for strangers is something I think is better left to JP’s or professional wedding preachers who have their ad and phone number custom-printed on their trailer: “Preacher for Hire. Cheap.”
In the opposite direction and to a much greater degree, I thoroughly enjoy sanctioning the marriage of people I do know and love. That is what made officiating the legal union of our friends B.J. and Michelle such a joy last weekend. Standing with them beside a lake and surrounded by miles of Oklahoma outdoors wasn’t just a privilege; it was joy and honor. Sharing the event with a few dozen of their family and other friends felt like ancient celebration connected with modern elation. By the time we got to the part about sealing the vows with a kiss, Michelle was practically jumping up and down.
There was a bit more jumping up and down during the dancing part of the evening. Underneath the strings of lights stapled to the joists of Jack and Penny’s carport, most of the younger folks and a few of the older stepped and slid, swiveled and turned to the music. Others of greater restraint sat around the tables in the driveway, talking and laughing.
All that reminded me of the Carpenter’s first recorded miracle at another wedding feast about twenty centuries ago. Apparently, his mother believed that wine was an indispensable element of a wedding celebration. He was too obedient to disappoint her. The servants who drug up all those barrels of water knew the whole story. As for the folks on the dance floor, all they knew was it was the best wine they’d ever tasted. Whether there’s any wine involved or not, I suspect that these days most of us worry too much and dance too little. (Thank you, Bill Jolliff, for that line.)
Here’s to true celebrations and to the God who is sometimes honored when our joy gets all the way from our hearts to our feet.