Weddings

July 1, 1993

June is a big month for weddings.

Though I’ve presided at a few hundred over three decades, I’m not sure why June is so popular; except, maybe, for fear of those May showers and dog days of summer.

Weddings can be a real pain in the neck because everybody is so hyper about not messing up things that you can guarantee some things will be messed up.

With so many people with so much self-combusting energy involved from bridesmaids, groomsmen, ring bearers, flower girls, preachers, custodians, soloists, organists, florists, photographers, videographers, caterers, printers, limo drivers, moms, favorite uncles who drink too much at the reception, favorite aunts who really shouldn’t dress that way, those who think they should have been in the wedding party, and friends who think weddings provide some kind of license to act like total jerks, it’s a wonder the services come off at all.

I’m reminded of the nervous bride who asked her pastor, “What’s the order of the service? I keep forgetting!” He said, “Just walk down the aisle, go to the altar, and then we’ll sing a hymn.” “Thank you so much,” she gushed, “I think I’ve got it now. Aisle. Altar. Hymn.”

Of course, if Adam and Eve paid more attention to God, they would have had the perfect marriage. He didn’t have to hear about all of the men that Eve could have married. She didn’t have to hear about how his mother cooked.

Knowing lots of folks who attend weddings are in church about as much as Jesse Jackson is in the White House these days, I try not to exasperate their sweetly faked attention with the kind of longer sermons that test the faithful who show up every Sunday morning.

While varying the content for the context, the outline is usually the same.

Pretending to be preaching to the couple alone about living happily ever after, my wedding sermons are really intended to help everybody live happily ever after.

First, I talk about taking Jesus seriously. I refer to His counsel: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-27).

Second, I urge them to have fun. I recite some favorite lines: “I meant to do my work today; but a brown bird sang in the apple tree and all the leaves were calling me. So what could I do but laugh and go!”

Finally, I repeat 12 words that keep marriages together: “I was wrong. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.”

I guess enduring all of the other stuff is worth the opportunity to point people in the direction of somebody who can keep them celebrating long after those June weddings.

Jesus.

Dr. Robert Kopp is the pastor of Bethany Presbyterian Church, Loves Park.

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