I walked down the center aisle with my wife and couldn’t stop thinking – how did we get here so fast? Not the venue, not the day, not the year – just this particular moment in time. How could I possibly be old enough to have a son that was getting married? More importantly, how had I been asked to officiate? I am not a pastor and have never done a wedding before. Despite this, my son and his fiancé had asked and I had accepted. Here we were on beautiful Saturday in August and the ceremony was about to begin. My charge was from the familiar wedding passage – I Corinthians 13 – and I actually got through the whole ceremony without tearing up – which is actually a pretty big deal for me. I have been known to cry teaching a Sunday school class. As I looked at my son and his soon to be wife, I was struck by what a moment of celebration this was. It was actually OK to stop and pinch myself and recognize how good God has been to me and my family.
This year has been a season of celebration for me and my extended family. Somehow, we squeezed in two high school graduations, two kids starting college, two kids turning 13, two milestone birthdays and two weddings. And I have probably forgotten something. Needless to say, we have seen a lot of each other and have enjoyed these special moments with lots of food, music and dancing. So, let me stop a moment and reflect on that last statement. My extended family is not really known for a lot of dancing. And yet, somehow, the dance floor at my son’s wedding and my nephew’s wedding were filled with people that share my last name. There were a couple of moments when I even began to ask myself if I really knew these people at all. Where had all of this dancing talent been hidden? Amazingly, my wife even got me on the dance floor for a few moments and that was worth a picture.
In this world of non-stop hustle and bustle, it has been good to take a few moments to stop and just celebrate these special events. As I read the New Testament, I have been struck by how many times Jesus was at a party. Despite the incredibly busy schedule he had during his three years of ministry (at least as I imagine it), he seemed to spend a lot of time gathering with others. Whether it was with Zacchaeus, Mary, Martha or someone else, he was often eating and sharing significant moments. Sometimes he was at weddings, sometimes at funerals, but always with people at key events in their lives. For most, their encounters with Jesus were the defining moments of their lives. How I would have loved to be with the men on the road to Emmaus when they realized that it was Jesus who had been walking and talking with them. Interestingly, it was as they ate together that the recognition came to them.
Coming out of Covid, it seems like busyness has returned. People are in a hurry again and taking time to stop, reflect and celebrate sometimes feels like a luxury. The pace of life has definitely picked up as people are trying to make up for lost time. We are gathering together again, but so often it seems like this can very quickly devolve into transactional activity – what can I get accomplished and how can someone help me do that more quickly. There is no premium placed on non-productive time with others. That is why these family celebrations are so important. It really is OK to simply, sit, eat, laugh, dance and enjoy one another.
As I think about the months to come, I am reminded that I get a weekly opportunity to celebrate with my spiritual family. With these weddings as the backdrop, I long for the day when we will celebrate the marriage feast of the lamb and no longer be in a hurry to get stuff done. In the meantime, I will stop each Sunday and thank God for his blessings in the here and now and for the many people with whom I can rejoice.