But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

This Sunday, our morning service included a wedding. That’s not a normal thing, by any means, and I had been unsure exactly what it was going to look like, but, as our pastor pointed out, a wedding is a worship service, too. And as the groom had proposed during a Sunday morning service a few months ago, the Sunday morning wedding seemed the only thing to do. In fact, it was one of the most meaningful weddings I have ever attended, one that managed to bring together both the rituals of our Sunday morning service and the rituals of a wedding, emphasizing both the importance of love here on earth and Christ’s love for the church. It seemed only right to have it during a Sunday morning service, and several of us mentioned afterwards that it was something we only wished we had thought of when we were getting married. One of our friends said, “How great would it be to have a children’s sermon in the middle of your wedding?” I can’t speak for the couple, but as someone attending the wedding, I thought it was great indeed.

The service also deemphasized the “excess” that seems to characterize the wedding culture in America these days, something that seems to have increased even in the years since my own wedding. There are many reasons I’m thankful to have been married for seven years, and one of them is, without question, that I didn’t know enough about weddings at that point in my life to get caught up in planning some kind of fairy tale ideal. (This also meant I had no idea what I was doing, but I don’t think that’s such a bad thing overall, since we managed to get married without knowing those things.) There were only the regular flowers and candles that we have at the church, and the bride wore a lovely lavender gown rather than a dress with a long train. She looked, I hardly need to say, beautiful just the same.

I have been to wedding services where the congregation had a part to play, affirming our commitment to the couple and their relationship. I always love that – when I choose to attend a wedding, it is because I want to support the bride and groom as they navigate their new relationship, and I enjoy it when the congregation vocalizes that. It seemed especially meaningful on Sunday, as the call to worship had us reading 1 Corinthians 13, the choir sang beautifully on home and family, the prayer reminded those of us who are married to renew our own vows, and the homily spoke of both romantic and divine love. I sat in a strange pew (the couple’s friends and family caused us all to sit in different places), surrounded by people I see every week who have been involved in this couple’s courtship, who know them much better than I do, and who have already taken very seriously the idea that relationships and marriage don’t happen in a vacuum. I have never been to a wedding in which the community was so much a part. It’s easy to think of renewing your own promises in a place where you see relationships so supported.

The big question I had before the service was, “What will the visitors think?” I try, in general, not to worry about that, but . . . this was something fairly unusual. After the service the answer was clear. Visitors would have seen the same thing that I saw when I first started attending the church: a group of people who love and support each other very much. (There was also a goat. So they will see that we are a little bit wacky. It took me more than just the first Sunday to figure that out.)

After church on Sunday I came home to a phone call from one of my oldest friends, telling me that she got engaged last week and asking me to participate in her own marriage ceremony. I will anticipate her wedding with a renewed idea of what it means to stand as part of her community, celebrating their relationship and promising to do everything I can to support the mystery of two become one.

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