Weddings, God and Covenants

As we move into the season of summer we also move into the season of weddings.  For the past few years I have had a couple of weddings on my calendar each summer.  This past weekend my wife and I attended a wedding and in a couple of weeks I will be performing one. I know of the three other weddings in our immediate sphere of relationships that will take place this summer.  Summer seems to be synonymous with weddings.

As I think about weddings, especially as I officiate any of them, I think of the word covenant.  When a man and a woman stand together on their wedding day, they are entering into a covenant.  There is a difference between a contract and a covenant.

The world in which we live in operates by contract relationships:  I am going to give you certain things in exchange for something else.  If I give you those things, you are obligated to provide certain things to me.  If you break your end of the contract, then I’m able to simply walk away from our agreement.

If I live by a covenant, it’s different.  Even when you don’t keep up your end of the bargain, I continue to be faithful to the relationship.

I was reminded of the idea of covenant as I have been reading the book Do Your Children Believe? Author Terence Chatmon talks about the idea of covenant and how God shows us what it looks like to keep a covenant.  He writes this in one of the later chapters:

“. . . as you read the grand sweep of the Bible – God’s covenants with Adam, with Noah, with Abraham, with Moses, with David – you keep seeing this theme emerge.  His people forget what He’s done for them. His people are contentious and inconsistent. His people sometimes even stumble into outright rebellion . . . yet He keeps reaching out and redeeming a remnant.  He never stops seeking His people.  He always remains faithful to His covenant.”

It’s a beautiful picture of our Heavenly Father and a great picture for a marriage relationship.  To never stop seeking.  To always remain faithful.  Even when the other blows it.

What a good reminder for those who are getting married.

For those who are already married.

For all those who are contentious, inconsistent, even outright rebellious.

Guess that’s all of us.

“For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.”
(2 Timothy 1:9)

 

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A Necessary Extra

Wedding-Ring-FingerI have posted in the past about the growing number of weddings that I’ve done over the last couple of years. Just a few weeks ago I had the privilege of presiding over my niece’s wedding ceremony. I have performed the weddings of former students and also for couples I didn’t know very well at the start of the wedding planning process.

As I’ve been involved in more weddings, I am beginning to experience what I’ve heard other pastors and ministers talk about in regard to the actual ceremony. This is not a complaint; just an observation that I’ve heard others echo.

As the minister who is presiding over the ceremony, you are a pretty important element. It’s not an ego thing or a power trip for that person (or at least it shouldn’t be). In the state of Ohio, you have to be registered with the state to perform a wedding. The minister also signs the marriage license which makes everything legal. So, if the minister doesn’t show up, it can really be a downer to the whole wedding day. It is necessary to have that person present to pronounce them husband and wife.

There is also an element where the minister is one of many, many details to the wedding ceremony. There are the tuxes and dresses, the flowers, the decorations, the music, the food, the cake, the toasts, the programs, the gifts, the reception, the DJ, the wedding party and so many other elements. As a minister performing a wedding, you know all the attention is on the bride and groom (as it should be). Once the wedding day kicks in, you can sometimes feel like an extra. Did the flowers get delivered? Check. Is the DJ here? Check. Does the caterer know what time to serve the meal? Check. Does the best man have the rings? Check. Is the minister here? Check.

Once they say “I do” and you pronounce them “man and wife,” you kind of fade into the background. The reception begins, the food is served and the celebration is underway.

I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to be involved in weddings. It is such an important time in the life of each couple and you hope you are adding some value to their lives as they begin married life together. I think many ministers wrestle with that necessary extra element to the wedding day. Perhaps it’s an opportunity to learn that we each have our part to play and we should do our best to play that part well.