When I am the minister at a wedding, I am called the “officiant.” I did not know that is what a minister at a wedding is called until I became one. Whenever I look down at the marriage license to sign it and see “officiant’s signature,” I chuckle. To me the term makes it sound like I should be wearing a black-and-white striped shirt and black pants with a whistle around my neck and a yellow flag tucked into my back pocket. There have been a few times when a penalty should have been called, but I won’t get into that here.
I like weddings. Many of the weddings I have attended brought together two people who love Christ and love each other with promises of helping each other grow in faith, hope, and charity. Plus there is always cake. Wedding cake. Ever been to a wedding reception without cake? That would be like Chuck Norris without his beard. Just wrong. Trust me. I saw Chuck Norris in an infomercial a few years ago with his beard shaved and wrong is the only way to describe it. I’m telling you this at the risk of my own death by round-house kick, so you know it must be true. Just don’t tell him, please.
With that being said I will confess that I do not enjoy being the officiant at weddings. Even though I am honored to be asked and am blessed to be a part of such a special day, there are just too many things that can go wrong. It is a ceremony after all and there are people at every wedding who expect perfection. And if something goes wrong, they most logical person to blame is the officiant since he is the one up front and normally slightly elevated over everyone else like a conductor standing over an orchestra. It can be stressful, especially with kids dancing because they have to pee and best men who haven’t practiced the ring hand-off enough. My palms are getting sweaty just thinking of looking over at the best man with the ring firmly grasped between his thumb and forefinger and wondering if I will be able to maneuver the delicate transition from my his hand to mine without the stupid thing tumbling to the floor. Oh, the horror.
Another reason that I do not enjoy being the officiant at weddings is my inflated fail rate. It now stands at roughly 65%. This means that of the marriages that I have helped start, almost 2 out of 3 have ended in divorce. This is not good. Yes, I know that it is not my fault. Divorce happens. Still, it is sad. It seems that many of the couples that I have “married” have only had one happy day and that was the day of their wedding.
There are some weddings, though, that I enjoy. I experienced one recently. The wedding was at one of the little, old church buildings in Cades Cove, a beautiful valley that is part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Simple and sweet, the wedding was between two people who had been married to each other and divorced only to reconcile by the grace of God. Most in attendance cried at least a little. Even me.
Reconciliation doesn’t always happen in our world. In fact, it rarely happens. People hurt people that they love and the relationship becomes broken. Those who are hurt rarely want to fix what was broken and those who feel guilty for hurting often want to run and hide.
But when two people lay aside their pain, look to God and the grace He has shown them, and determine to let the Holy Spirit be their guide–love can win.
They didn’t have wedding cake afterward, but that is okay. They gave me something far sweeter: a picture of reconciliation that I will never forget.
(Do you have a story of reconciliation? Have you had any bad wedding experiences? Share away.)