Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I Now Pronounce You...

I've been blessed to be able to preach many weddings. The most recent happy occasion was last Spring Break when I performed the ceremony for Emily, one of my favorite former students, and Joey, a young man she met in college. This morning, there was a Facebook message from Emily wondering if I would write a recommendation for her- of course! I love hearing from the one time brides. The following, from April 18, 2010 is about one of those weddings.

The wedding is over! Sarah and Dennis had a wonderful and elegant affair and shall now and forever be known as Dennis and Sarah Rees. I was honored to be a part of the celebration of their love, or the officiant as the program listed me. One of my former players, Charlotte, was a bridesmaid and I had not seen her in eight years. Charlotte now teaches in Arizona in the Teach For America program and there is no doubt she is a tremendous educator. Weddings and funerals; they tend to reunite families and friends...and sometimes players and coaches, teachers and students.

This was the ninth wedding I have been involved in. There is a standard ceremony which I've written with personalization for each new bride and groom. The opening minutes are a quick overview of several Old Testament couples and Biblical thoughts on marriage. I quote from a Joni Mitchell song (The Circle Game) tied into the story of Jacob serving seven years to get his wife, Rachel, which the scriptures say flew by quickly owing to his love for her. I segue into a blended story of the couples' childhood from the perspective of their parents, followed by the courtship tale as told by the bride and groom. There are several excellent longer quotations about love and family I weave in along with a lesson from our basketball locker room. All this leads us to the vows, which were written by my grandfather, Harold Hawley, for my parents' wedding on December 25, 1949 in Nashville, Arkansas. Older people at the weddings love this part because my grandfather, a gifted orator, used very flowery and King James-like language, a vernacular seldom heard anymore. The only liberty I take is removing the eth from several words. I make the point that Grandpa must have done a great job- my parents made it almost sixty years before death separated them. Every time I use these vows, repeated by a new bride and groom, I come away with the feeling that my family is somehow honored.

My last duty at each wedding is always the same; signing the marriage license. It hit me yesterday as I sat at a desk in the manager's office at the Briscoe Manor in Richmond, Texas. Affixing my name, in both cursive and print, and listing my position as minister, I realized the responsibility I bear in these nuptials. In the next to last paragraph of the vows, I state that I am pronouncing the couple to be husband and wife by the authority of the State and the grace of God. What an obligation I have in that circumstance; to have the authority to do both the bidding of the government and the Almighty. I make note in class that nowhere in the Bible does it mention getting married in a chapel or church building. Yet, almost every one of my female students when asked say they prefer their wedding to be in a religious context. Part of it is simply tradition, I'm sure, but many truly want the blessing of the Lord when the time comes. I know that countless girls from the time they are tiny dream about their wedding and their marriage to the as yet unnamed Prince Charming. And here is what is neat for me: I get to declare the union to be official in both God's sight and in society's sight. And very humbly I can tell you, that on these nights, I feel like my grandfather.

Applicable quote of the day:
"We have the greatest pre-nuptial agreement in the world. It's called love.''
Gene Perret

God bless,
Luke 18:1

E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

1 comment:


I am so pleased the wedding went off smoothly, you must have felt proud to be part of the celebrations, and to meet up with the briadesmaid after eight years must have been a grand reunion.
I will say I enjoyed your post very much, Thanks for sharing,