Monday, June 13, 2005

Clips and Phrases: Three Comments (Updated)

The wedding was lovely. It was held at a swank "dining club" type establishment in midtown. (The type of place where "gentlemen are asked to wear jackets at all times while in the dining room." A veritable swamp of old, rich, white people.) There was a garden patio in the back. Stone floor. Nine-foot-high ivy-covered brick wall enclosure. Trees and falling leaves. A fountain. Quite lovely.

The ceremony was in the morning, because holding it much later would have been stiflingly hot. The minister did his dance. I got to read a Scripture passage. The bride was trying so hard not to cry that she started to rush through her vows, firing them off quickly while trying not to cry.
It was sweet. You could see the full impact of this moment hitting her, and how her joy almost overcame her composure.

It's a funny thing, to be that close to the action. I could see the two of them, holding hands, trembling a little. Overwhelmed and overjoyed. And it really hit home for me. Marriage is so incredibly huge. Such an amazing thing, to pledge your life to another, your energies to their wellbeing. And when you reach it, when you reach THE moment--not the kisses, not the recessional, but the moment where you make your pledge--it hits you like a ton of bricks, and you feel so utterly blessed and unworthy to be there, to repeat those words, to hold that hand and place the ring on that finger. I'd imagine, in that moment, one could second-guess whether a life shared with them is much of a gift to give their beloved. And at the same time, their beloved thinks so much of them, that they're thinking the same thing.

"This is a great mystery." And I'm not even speaking of Christ and the Church. That's even more amazing.

While they were parroting the minister's prompts, I reached into my pants pocket, pulled out the diamond ring, and held it in my fist. When the minister called for the rings, the groom turned to me, and I did the traditional "panicked-checking-of-the-pockets" gag that best men have used for centuries. Fortunately, instead of slugging me, the bride and groom appreciated the break in the tension.

The rings were placed. The bride tried and failed to slip the groom's band on his middle finger, before he helped her find the right one. Presentation. Meet Mr. and Mrs.

During the reception dinner (which was tasty), the waiter asked the groom if "his wife" would like more tea. He hesitated for a split-second before leaning over to her and asking. A few moments later, I leaned over to him and said, "You'll have to get used to that phrase, I guess." He laughed. "Yeah."

So very grown up, the thought of that is. One's wife. One's husband. Simple phrases with volumes of meaning, bearing so much joy and responsibility.

The mother of the groom asked if I had any sage advice to dispense. I shrugged and said, "Today, he has exceeded the realm of my experience. From this point, he's on his own." Which, of course, is not true. When you're in community, you're never on your own. I may not be able to tell him how to avoid fighting over a poorly-cooked meal or lamentable laundry habits, but I will be able to support him, to keep him accountable. That's still my job, even after the ceremony.*

That's the key to being a best man, I've decided. The key to "standing up for" the person getting married. By standing there, you are, in some small way, co-signing that pact. You are a witness, a third party, who is covenanting to support that union as best as you can. If (God forbid) there comes a time when the groom starts to stray, or in any way tries to break faith with his bride, it is my job (as much as possible) to take a stand against that. I owe that to her. I owe it to him.

Such services are more important than shoepolish on car windows and returning the tuxedos to the store.

[*The sentiments in that last part (and following) were very likely subconsciously swiped from Lauren Winner's excellent article here. Since I can't tell where her original concepts ended and mine began, it's best to give her the full credit.]


Lunch with the husband of the husband-and-wife SunSco teaching team. He tells me that he and his wife feel led to step down in the next several months. They have felt for some time that I was and am being prepared to take over the leadership role in the class. I have felt the same, as I have shared.

But lately, I must admit, I've been having second thoughts. Not because I love teaching SunSco any less; certainly not. But I've been feeling...flawed, as of late. Moreso than usual. Frankly, I don't feel worthy to teach. I am no example.

Funny how God gives you glimpses of other people going through similar circumstances. It's encouraging to know you're not alone.

So there's that. They have yet to talk to the Singles Ministry leader, but he should be okay with it. And I will once again be a regular teacher (of some kind) at the end of the summer.

Such responsibility. I feel so small.


I feel a post brewing about the overanalysis of Scripture. I know, I know, "could there be such a thing?" Well, when it's parced and explained and excused away, to the point of being a limp cabbage leaf of its original self, then yes. And this cabbage leaf is used to excuse behavior.

We don't like the Bible's sharp edges, so we file away at it with our steely knives, try to wear it down. When that doesn't work (which it doesn't), then we pull the biggest fraud of all: we convince ourselves that it did work. We pierce our soiled hands on its sharp points and swear we are unharmed. We run upon the jagged teeth of it, and proclaim it smooth.

We try to soften it, to conform it to our lifestyles, and when it doesn't, we create a sham version of it, all curves and smooth surfaces, call it the true version and the genuine article, and think we are made perfect through it--when we are, in fact, deluded.

Like I said, a post is beginning to brew. Brace for it.

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