These past few days we’ve had the joy of meditating on marriage once more as Saturday we attended Derek and Rachel’s wedding–the 4th wedding that we’ve attended and served at this summer! Two days earlier we’d also had the pleasure of attending what the groom’s family calls a “Celebration Dinner.” I love this custom they’ve established in their family! Let me tell you about it! When one of the T family’s sons marries (this is the third), instead of a groom’s dinner or rehearsal dinner, they celebrate what God has done, honoring and sharing with 100 or so of their closest friends and family: people who’ve been special to, or invested in the lives of, the bride and groom and their families. It’s an intimate evening of loving God and family and being grateful.
On this past Thursday, the bride and groom and the groom’s family, especially, expressed humble gratitude and honor to God, their family and friends. The couple each shared their salvation testimony, retold the story of their courtship and engagement, and the father of the groom charged his son with the seriousness of what he was about to do–he shared from scripture and gave his son a personal challenge, designed specifically for him, to help him as he begins his new role as husband and leader of his own family, and he no longer is under the authority of his father, but in a relationship of receiving his counsel.
It was a very moving evening. There was an intimacy, a warmth, a closeness in this evening, that was not even present at the wedding. It was a great privilege to be able to share in this special evening.
Derek and Rachel shared the story of how God had led them to each other: the patience and trust it had taken, waiting for God’s leading and timing; and the parental counsel, prayer and involvement in both of their lives.
Marriage is a serious step, a serious commitment, not to be entered into lightly. It is forever. Mr. T., the father of the groom, exhorted his son, Derek, to be a “good fighter,” an appropriate charge in light of the fact that Derek went to Boot Camp this past year and is now in the Marine reserves. Mr. T. told Derek that he must fight against three enemies and to remember Rachel is never the enemy. He must fight against his own selfishness (it would not be “my own” time, money, etc. anymore), fear (am I going to have enough work–how will I provide?) and lies (the world, media and people will be attacking the way they live and the choices they make and speaking lies every day).
And he exhorted him to fight for three things. He counseled Derek to fight for his family, for truth, and for what is right. He shared from the book of Nehemiah and used the example of their building the wall, each family building right where they were, at the same time they were fighting their enemies with one hand, building with the other.
On Saturday, two things especially impressed me at the wedding reception. Derek sincerely thanked his parents and expressed the desire that he might become like his father someday. That they honored their guests and parents by coming to the microphone and addressing them, expressing their gratitude: not only to their guests for coming, but also to their parents for how they’d raised them, (and to each other’s parents for how they’d raised the other to be someone so wonderful), to their own parents for all their sacrifice, for everything—was very special. And the K family publicly thanked all the people who had helped serve (especially Mrs. D. who had planned and orchestrated the meal, and had been responsible for overseeing everyone and everything–a mammouth undertaking). Secondly, Rachel’s family, which now includes Derek, sang and played their instruments for the 650 guests who attended the outdoor wedding. It was meaningful to me that the couple took time to give something special back to all who were there, not only unselfishly standing in line to talk to each and every one of their guests–before they ate anything themselves–but also sharing their music in an unhurried “mini-concert.” It was something I’ve never seen before–the wedding couple getting up during the reception, singing and playing instruments with their family, the bride in her wedding dress, for the wedding guests.
A Grateful Bride and Groom Expressing their Gratitude
Gratitude, honor, humility, unselfishness, family, faithfulness (to God and your mate)–these were the themes of Derek and Rachel’s wedding: a great way to start out life together!