by Dr. Joe McKeever
I wonder if I'm the only normal (!) person around who regularly reads the wedding announcements that run in the Sunday newspaper. Well, "scan them" might be a better word. And I'm not really sure what I'm looking for.
Once in a while, however, it all works out. I stumble on a gem. This morning's Times-Picayune, for instance, ran the article on the "Farmer/Shorty" wedding. The names alone will make you stop and read.
I'm going to assume the bride's mother wrote the article. Here it is in its entirely, followed by a few notes about weddings....
Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will cling to his wife; and they will be one flesh. (Genesis 2:24) Dr. Vernon James Shorty and Mrs. Sandra Ann Seaberry Butler along with close family and friends are proud to announce the engagement of their daughter and #1 girl, Chyna Akelia Shorty to Alponso Lorenzo Farmer, son of Sandra Ann Brown.
Chyna and Renny met April 23, 2009, while embracing their single years at Door 44 in Atlanta. There, he asked if he could take her to dinner, Chyna's response was not what Renny had in mind. After a month, persistence paid off, guess you could say he got his way after all. God's enabling force blossomed there love soon after, and they have become inseparable as their love has grown over the year.
The bride to be is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, completing one year of studies in counseling she is currently pursuing her Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology and is the owner of 30Below a whimsical kids experience & clothing boutique in Atlanta, Georgia. The bridegroom is the owner/operator of AF Transport Systems, providing innovative transportation and logistics operations bicoastal.
Renny proposed to Chyna on March 13, 2010, with two elaborate boxes to choose from. Previously getting her father's permission, and approval, Chyna happily accepted.
The couple celebrated a fabulous weekend of engagement activities with family and friends from all over in New Orleans this past weekend. They will be sealed for time and eternity with a ceremony of close family and friends April 23, 2011 on the lavish island of St John in the Virgin Islands.
The couple plans to make their home and start a family in Atlanta, Georgia.
The photo showed this beautiful lady and a beaming young man who looks like he has just won the jackpot. Maybe he has.
As a pastor since 1962, I've performed a lot of weddings. Some were romantic, some were hastily put together and some were expensive undertakings that Martha Stewart could have learned from.
My pastor buddy Don Davidson of Alexandria, Virginia, admits to loving weddings. I'm afraid I'm in the category of most of my preacher colleagues in "enjoying some of them and tolerating the rest." They require a lot of meetings--premarital counseling sessions, plannings, rehearsals, and the wedding itself.
Most times I find myself agreeing with the groom that we ought to just walk into the sanctuary and turn on the lights and get this thing done.
In a novel I was reading this morning early, the writer had this line: "The wedding went off without a hitch." I understood what he was saying, but the whimsical side of me said out loud, "So--did they get married or not?"
Years ago I came across a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that I have used in most weddings since. In a ceremony for his niece, he said to the couple:
Love will not sustain your marriage. But marriage will sustain your love.
In saying "marriage will sustain your love," he was referring to the commitment of marriage. Marriage is about commitment. Not about emotions, feelings, and such.
Just inside the front door in my house is a lovely rock cabinet containing most of my collection through the years. We have rocks from the Holy Land, arrowheads found on the Alabama farm when I was a teenager, and fossils from everywhere. Here and there are a few rocks I've purchased in rock shops. One in particular I have often used in marriage counseling.
From the outside, this fist-sized rust-colored rock looks like a thousand others. The difference is that someone has split it open. Inside is where the miracle lies.
On both sides of the rock is the outline of a fossil, some kind of plant that existed umpteen millions of years ago. It's wonderful just to hold it and ponder its origin.
I show this to the young couple who are planning to be married as something of a metaphor for their lives together.
"At first, you two are like two separate rocks that may not resemble at all. You touch at a few places, but not many. Eventually, as you lock yourself into marriage, you experience a great deal of friction--some of it delightful and some painful. What the friction does is wear away the rough edges.
"If you stay with it, and both of you will work at it, in time you end up with a marriage that looks like this rock: you are one from the outside (meaning that everyone thinks of the two of you as a unity), but on the inside you share a beautiful secret design which is known only to the other."
I did a cartoon once in which a piano player says, "Marriage can be grand, so long as it's upright."
I recommend marriage, in case you wonder. I grieve at the large numbers of adults of all ages who forego marriage to live together and even have children. Without a commitment from either to stay through good times and bad (sickness and in health, etc), where is the security necessary to build a family?
For disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, the question prior to a marriage is never "do I love her?" or "how does he make me feel?" The only question for a believer is: "What does the Lord want me to do?"
A couple sat before Donald Grey Barnhouse, the legendary old Presbyterian preacher of a few generations back. They said, "We want to get married." He boomed out, "WHY?" They answered, "Because we loooooove each other." He said, "What does that have to do with it?"
I laugh at that because I'd be willing to bet a dollar that couple had no clue what he meant. He went on, I'm certain, to assure them the only matter that they should settle is: 'What is the will of God?'
Answer that and it automatically settles a hundred issues that may arise in the future.
The old adage is still a good one:
Marriages may be made in heaven, but the maintenance work is still done here on earth.
Marriage Is Bigger Than We
There is always a sense of God at the weddings I have been a part of. After all, we know and acknowledge that God is the one who ordained marriage, He is the one who defines and upholds it, for marriage is Holy.
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About the Author:
Dr. Joe McKeever is a Preacher, Cartoonist, and retired Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.
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