Sunday, December 03, 2006

Marriage is one of them things that don't come natural

Today we went to a wedding ceremony. Carol had asked me yesterday if I really wanted to go, because it was a ways away. "I think it's important to go," I told her.

"Can you tell me why you think it's important that we go?" she asked. No, I couldn't. We know the bride's parents, and we were shocked a few years ago when they got a divorce. Which is a story in itself -- a story for another day.

This morning we got in the car at 8:20, and we got to the church two hours later. The parking lot was full, but we got a (probably legal) spot just outside. I noticed that just about all the women wore black, ah, bandanas? over their hair. The congregation seemed somehow from early in the last century.

Inside, we saw a woman that was a dead ringer for the bride's mother - about 20 years ago. Which is who we mistook her for. She was, of course, one of the bride's sisters. Another sister gave us a big smile and said, "you are very welcome here." I surely felt her sincerity.

After a brief pause inside, an usher asked our names. They were checked against a list, and another usher led us to some "generic" seats. We noticed that the left side was mostly women and the right was mostly men. The building was new. There were no musical instruments, but I did see a wall-clock. Precisely at 10:30, a single note sounded softly from a pitch-pipe, and about two dozen male voices started the first of four old-time hymns, each one full of important truths about God.

Carol said afterwards that some of the men looked happy and some just looked repressed. Maybe they don't know or can't express their feelings, but for some of these guys, those old songs are probably a significant part of what keeps them in the faith.

She also noticed that there was no choir director. No robes. No neckties that I could see, though most of the men had suit jackets on.

The sermon was in some ways nothing to write home about. It wasn't given in what any of your English teachers would have called Standard American English (today's title is a verbatim quote). There wasn't much structure to it. Delivery was a little choppy.

But! It was genuine, and it came from the preacher's heart. The Scriptures were read. And in the remarks both before and afterward, our attention was directed to what the Lord might be saying to us.

The wedding ceremony was part of the worship service, and the wedding vows were very short, very traditional.

It was about two hours for the whole service, in other words about twice as long as the typical weekend service at our home church. They fed us afterwards - sliced tri-tip and pickles and rolls and potatoes and a Jell-O fruit salad and pie and ice cream. Water and iced tea and hot coffee to drink.

We talked to both the bride's parents after the whole thing. Her mother has apparently moved a lot closer to God in the past few years. Her dad seems to have done the reverse.

We got back home a little under eight hours after we left this morning.

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