Aren’t They Lovely?

I’ve been to a great many weddings in my life, tied a lot of knots, watched with joy as two people make their commitments to love one another “in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health for as long as we both shall live.” For me there is always emotion attached to these holy moments.  They move me deeply for I believe marriage is one of the ways we are able to experience the self-less love of God through the self-less love of another human being.

All of that was wrapped up in two weddings this past fall, one I attended and the other I celebrated with a surprise party for the couple a week after their marriage.  Both civil marriages occurred in Iowa, which is the closest state where same sex marriages are recognized.   The first was followed by a church service and reception in my hometown while the second was followed by a party in our home.

I had a lump in my throat throughout the church service.  One of the partners grew up in the church I served.  She was always there, singing, teaching, serving as a Deacon while the other partner was new to the Presbyterian Church and absolutely fascinated by our form of government!  (Can you believe that?)  She, too, has taught and is currently serving on Session.  Together they have adopted two children while also serving as foster parents for nearly a dozen children – amazing.  Talk about love for one another and for others … they embody it.  So does one of their dads.  At the reception, when it came time for the father of the bride dance, the two of them stepped out on the dance floor as the DJ played that old standby, “Isn’t She Lovely.”  There was a father and his daughter, a woman for whom life has been hard, a woman who has heard some pretty horrible things said about her, a woman who has suffered because of her sexuality, dancing to “Isn’t She Lovely.”  That’s the song her father selected for their dance.  As he told me later, “I have known for years that if this night ever came to be, I wanted to dance with my daughter to “Isn’t She Lovely.”

My second “wedding experience” actually occurred at a surprise post-wedding party we hosted.  We invited the newlyweds over for a simple dinner, not telling them that we had also invited numerous others from church to stop by for a surprise party held in their honor.  The two of them brought pictures to share.  As we four were eating and looking at their wedding photos people suddenly began pouring through our front door.  Everyone we invited showed up with gifts and cards and well wishes.  The newlyweds were stunned and speechless for quite some time but as the evening passed one of them, who had served as our church’s wedding coordinator for a number of years, got our attention and spoke of her many years watching weddings occur in our sanctuary and believing that she would never know the joy and happiness experienced by those whose weddings she had helped to happen.  Thankfully she was wrong about that!  She also expressed deep gratitude to their church home for surrounding them with love and support for the twenty years they were together before being able to marry.

Two weddings that come close to the top of my favorites … thanks be to God who loves us all!

Jay McKell
Interim Associate Pastor of Pastoral Care
Village Presbyterian Church
Prairie Village, KS

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