The church suddenly became quiet. The rustling of little feet now disbursed to Sunday School and here we sit waiting. The hymn’s are complete, the tithe is offered, and the blessings are requested. At this time we know it is pastor Bill’s opportunity to lead us ever closer to God. To help cast doubts aside, and answer question. Bill is to educate us on bible passages using his colorful array of words and insight as a story teller. Today we find the pews only 1/4 full and we sit silently as Bill leaves the room. Of course every face sits perplexed, in great question, as to what is happening. Where is Bill going?
The organist, Jan, starts to play. The music sounds oddly familiar but I cannot place where I’ve heard the song before. Yet there is still no Bill. Jan continues on and then the song transforms. My ah-ha moment is not alone as the introduction to the bridal march shifts to the chorus “here come’s the bride” and at that precise instance here enters Bill. Walking down the aisle toward the “alter”. He walks as a man not about to get married but about to serve those who are being wed – standing tall, and ready to deliver the most important of ceremonies.
Bill arrives at the alter. He is wearing a black suit, black button down dress shirt, and a black tie. He is invisible among the ghosts standing with him in their wedding gown(s) and tuxedo(s). And he begins to read, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join …” and Bill falters. He looks up to no longer see the apparitions of marriage but every congregant that has experienced, in some manner, the marriage they have celebrated in their own lives. Whether that marriage is physical or spiritual, we have all taken our own vows casting aside pomp and circumstance for humility and tender graciousness to another’s whims and wishes.
If I ever had goosebumps at a sermon this was the day. Bill offered up so much today. His message clear as the wrinkles on my forehead while walking us through his own matrimonial services to his beautiful wife of 44 years. And as he read from scripture, as he encased our hearts and souls to the sacrifices we make with each vow of love and giving to another, even to God, all of it came down to one simple little question – Why are you here?
That, my dear Pastor, is a marvelous question. What am I doing every Sunday sitting on a hard pew, in an old church, that has room to fill so many hearts but sits vastly empty and serene? Why am I dragging my kids kicking and screaming, fighting the idea of sitting in their PJ’s for at least 12 hours, not having to shower, and becoming absolutely mesmerized by some awful teenage sitcom on the television? Why do I sing these songs that are uplifting, yet dated, to a spirit that is often questioned in existence?
Because I want to marry God again and again and again. This does not say that I won’t miss a Sunday service, and that every experience I walk away with will be positive, provocative, or even agreed upon, but that is the richness of any relationship that is worth its salt. I get to marry God and there to help with my vows is my dear Pastor. There to witness and have their own ceremony is ever person sitting on those hard seats with me. An experience that each takes personally, a ceremony that each devotes their own personality too.
I am there to learn, to grow, and to make my bond a little tighter, last that much longer. I bring my boys so they can be informed, and maybe, somewhere along the line, they too will find a bond, a connection, with God that is their own. They too will have an opportunity to rejoice in their own marriage to the King of King’s or renounce His existence, but either way, they’ve been touched.
We all come to our Lord’s home to have the honor of remembering what values we are to walk with in our day to day life. In that, too, we remember the forgiveness we are offered when we stray and err. God does not expect us to be perfect in our marriage, and Pastor Bill is ever the first to throw himself under the proverbial bus, helping us understand that we are allowed to be fallible and God will still love us as long as we own our actions, and ask Him for forgiveness.
We are reminded that this marriage has no expiration date. This marriage cannot be thrown away when broken, damaged, or hurt like the vacuum or a physical relationship gone wrong. Our relationship with God is not disposable. And in that we are to remember that even though we will question God, we will question our marriage to him over the course of time and tragedy, our marriage will still be there in the long run. God will not divorce us.
Maybe if we take such a strong vow to our humanly counterpart, maybe if we take a little more time in making a humanly connection, maybe if we are a bit more reserved before walking down the wedding aisle, maybe we would have more answers for “why are you here” instead of questions. All in all, I can say, this is a sermon I would have liked to watch time and again.