I have been to a lot of weddings lately. Between our large extended family, many nieces and nephews, our own children and children of friends I have found myself sitting in the pews for a lot of very joyous occasions. Each wedding is unique, as you would expect, but I have noticed that they all share a few similarities.
First a couple in love decide to publicly and legally declare their intention to wed and they hold a ceremony before God and man to mark the occasion.
At this point a series of barriers must be overcome, some logistical, some financial, some emotional, all of them will test the resolve of the intended and once these issues are hammered out all are gathered to witness the vows.
Just before the ceremony is completed, someone, a priest or family member always cautions the couple that what they are undertaking is a serious matter and not to be entered into lightly. The married members of the congregation know all too well the truth of this, that there will be good times and bad, sickness and health. The author Neil Gaiman was asked to say a few words at a friend’s wedding, and this is what he had to say on this subject:
All I Know About Love
This is everything I have to tell you about love: nothing.
This is everything I’ve learned about marriage: nothing.
Only that the world out there is complicated,
and there are beasts in the night, and delight and pain,
and the only thing that makes it okay, sometimes,
is to reach out a hand in the darkness and find another
hand to squeeze, and not to be alone.
It’s not the kisses, or never just the kisses: it’s what they mean.
Somebody’s got your back.
Somebody knows your worst self and somehow doesn’t want to rescue you
or send for the army to rescue them.
It’s not two broken halves becoming one.
It’s the light from a distant lighthouse bringing you both safely home
because home is wherever you are both together.
So this is everything I have to tell you about love and marriage: nothing,
like a book without pages or a forest without trees.
Because there are things you cannot know before you experience them.
Because no study can prepare you for the joys or the trials.
Because nobody else’s love, nobody else’s marriage, is like yours,
and it’s a road you can only learn by walking it,
a dance you cannot be taught,
a song that did not exist before you began, together, to sing.
And because in the darkness you will reach out a hand,
not knowing for certain if someone else is even there.
And your hands will meet,
and then neither of you will ever need to be alone again
At last, after being duly admonished, the two are united and a blessing is said.
“Put on then, as God's chosen ones,
holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another,
forgiving each other;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
And above all these put on love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Finally, the newly married are welcomed with food and wine, song and dance. John tells us that Jesus himself performed his first miracle at just such an occasion.
The Wedding at Cana
2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
I myself have always been fascinated by the dual nature of Jesus, he was both God and man and this miracle illustrates it perfectly. Jesus seems to be very aware of what the future holds, the trials and tribulations to come, and the sacrifice he must make. At the same time, he deals with a very earthly concern, his mother asks him to fix a problem and he reluctantly starts his public ministry by basically saving a wedding celebration.
What can we learn from this? It is these occasions that remind us of what is important.
Amen to that.
Yours in Christ,