|Photos by our friend Kristen Mrkonjic|
It's a privilege to officiate at a sibling's wedding (I've been able to do both of my sisters' ceremonies, but had just started seminary when my brother was married). Anymore, that's the main way I get to be in a wedding. Which is fun, but also a little anxiety producing.
There is definitely more emotion when officiating (I had to fight off tears a few times--one of which was at the end when they wanted us to sing Richard K. Carlson's "The Blessing" to them, and the pianist didn't know he was supposed to be a part of that, so I--with the help of a few bridesmaids--started it a capella; that wasn't easy to get through).
I also don't feel worthy of being up there being able to officiate. Last week a friend of mine told me he uses these words whenever he preaches or does anything like that: "It is only by God's forgiveness that I am able to stand before you."
Which is true: there isn't really anything special about me (or any other pastor or officiant) that enables us to stand up front in a religious service. We may have a special degree and recognition for a denominational body or such, but God never did anything to me to make special.
Mostly I've been very cognizant of my own failures in ministry and marriage and many other places. So I hesitated to do the wedding. But it wasn't about me--and my sister still wanted me to even after knowing of my failures.
And I said in their wedding that it is only by God's grace that they (or any of us) can stand in a church and be married as well. God brings us together. We all have our shortcomings. We're not worthy of God's or someone else's love, but we still receive it. That is grace. A marriage needs that to survive--along with forgiveness.
|The nieces and nephews|
with their new Uncle
The wedding also reminds me about how God adopts us into His family. I have a new brother now. He said, "I do," and is now a part of our family. I didn't have much choice in the matter, but I love him all the same. And I enjoy family. I know not everyone does, but I enjoy going to family reunions and all. Family accepts you--despite knowing you.
So, congratulations Amy and Caleb! Many blessings on your new journey together. Thank you for letting me be a part of your big day.