Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Two Weddings and a Funeral

This Memorial Day weekend, I've been present to grieve with a woman who lost her husband of 52 years and counseled a couple that's preparing to marry in July. And then, this evening, I'll be officiating at the wedding of a different couple, whose rehearsel I was at last night. The convergence of weddings and funerals is always sobering. I listened to this woman share stories of her husband's health decline. He was an athelete, loving softball, basketball, and batting cages. But the last five years, a rare brain disease rendered him virtually helpless, stealing larger and larger parts of his independence and strength until, last night, it finally took his life.

Tonight, the couple will stand before God, each other, and their friends as witnesses and will say, "for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health", and they will say the words with the confidence of youth and strength of good health. They will mean the words, and I believe that this wonderful couple will live them out for the rest of their days. But they don't know what they're saying. They can't know what 'sickness' lies ahead, if any. They can't know which of the two of them will lose faculties first. They can't know the cost of caring for the other, and the hole that will be left. No couple can know that, and yet they say the words, and they mean them, I believe, with all their heart.

That's the power of a covenant. A covenant is the commitment to a relationship, a commitment to loving another through all the peaks and valleys that lie ahead in life, knowing that when the promise is made, neither party has any way of knowing what peaks and valleys await them. What a profound thing it is to say to another: "I'm going to commit to caring for you, knowing that such a commitment will ask of me sacrifices that I presently can't possibly foresee." In an age of disposable relationships, short-lived commitments, and utilitarian values, these words are all the more powerful, because to live them will require swimming upstream, against the prevailing currents of our culture.

So there will be a wedding tonight, and it will be a good one. And two people will begin a life together, the likes of which neither of them has any way of predicting. But both of them know this: As they draw upon Christ for the strength to fulfill their covenant, they will find their own destiny, living the adventure that God has for them, an adventure that will no doubt contan a full measure of joy, laughter, tears, sorrow, gifts, and loss. Such are the covenant people: fully alive - a blessing to the world.

Have a good weekend.


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