(This post was first published on June 17, 2007.)
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As a pastor's wife, I get to attend more than my share of weddings. Truthfully, I'm becoming a bit immune. What used to elicit a tightening in my chest, even a random tear or two, is now sometimes little more than mundane. Well, I guess that's not an entirely fair thing to say. I have yet to experience that incredible moment when the bride walks down the aisle without catching my breath...
Anyway, yesterday Aaron and I witnessed the marriage ceremony of good friends. Aaron counseled the couple and officiated the ceremony, but he asked them not to give him an honorarium. They slipped him a check in spite of his request, and in an act of what I initially considered utter lack of judgement, Aaron went out and bought them a gift with the entire amount. What did he buy? A bottle of wine. Okay, I love wine. I've even been privileged enough to taste a $50 bottle of wine. I considered that extravagant. But this 2002 award winning Cabernet Sauvignon blows that "cheap" bottle of vino out of the water.
"Wine?! You spent that entire check on a bottle of wine?" I smiled blandly, trying to keep my expression amused even though I was thinking, "You are completely insane." It's not that we needed the money or even that we wanted it. But I couldn't help thinking that there were easily twenty things that would make more sense to buy. Make a donation to a charity in their name! Buy them something nice for their home! Help them out with their first month of rent!
I shook my head at my silly husband all the way to the wedding. And then the ceremony began and everything changed. Instead of lighting a unity candle, the couple elected to participate in a traditional Jewish engagement ceremony where the prospective groom offers his beloved a glass of wine. If she drinks from his cup, they are engaged and he will go home to prepare a place for her. (Sound familiar? Overtones of eternity?) It's all about commitment, love, acceptance, vulnerability. It is a beautiful, holy thing. I listened to Aaron speak of their marriage and how, if they are planted in the Lord, in the years to come their love will only get better with age. Like fine wine. Suddenly that bottle of wine, that extravagant, ridiculously exquisite vintage became symbolic, sacred even--a reminder of how unique, how consecrated this covenant between a man and a woman is. It reminded me of another time that someone was chastised for the unapologetically lavish nature of her gift (John 12:1-11).
It saddens me sometimes how quickly I diminish the hand of God as he weaves lives together, levels kingdoms, lifts the heads of his people... How often do I miss the sacred in the every day? A "routine" wedding ceremony is nothing less than God's plan being revealed one life at a time.
Believe it or not, this does have much to do with writing. It struck me yesterday at that moment when the couple kissed, when the witnesses throughout the church erupted in laughter, cheering, rejoicing, that as an author who is a Christian I can do no better than to allow my readers a glimpse of such beauty, such extravagance through my writing. We forget. We forget how sacred our lives are. We forget how each moment is an act of worship, whether or not it is the Lord whom we worship. I am so thankful for moments when I am allowed the smallest taste of the richness of heaven. It lifts my soul, it deepens my hope. It makes me want to keep trying to capture little pieces of the eternal and pin them to my paper, if only for a moment. It makes me long to taste the wine at the wedding supper of the Lamb.