By Bill Calhoun
Pastor of Woodford Memorial Church in Elkins
After reading a recent Saturday paper, I concluded that weddings are rather ordinary events in our society. The Inter-Mountain's weekend edition always contains several engagement, wedding and anniversary announcements.
Actually, every weekend paper contains such announcements. I usually read every announcement and study each photo. My favorites are the anniversary photos that have one photo taken at the start of the couple's marriage and another after 40 or so years of marriage. One can easily, and perhaps wrongfully, conclude that marriage sure does take its toll.
As a pastor, I have participated in many weddings. I even help couples plan their wedding. Really, my work in planning a wedding is rather simple and ordinary. I ask a few questions and listen to the answers. Do you have a budget and a financial plan? Have you decided who will handle the online banking and who will carry out the trash? If necessary, I provide a little guidance and I am never upset if the couple doesn't listen.
Weddings are so ordinary that we know what will happen before we arrive at the church. If something different does happen at a wedding, it will be shown on YouTube and CNN. Usually, a line of well-dressed people will walk down the aisle and stand to the left and right of the bride and groom. A couple of musicians will provide music. The minister will say a few prayers, ask several questions and introduce the new husband and wife. At the weddings I have attended, people always smile, applaud and take photos once the couple is introduced.
If weddings are so ordinary, why have I never attended an ordinary wedding? I will never forget the last wedding in which I participated. Everyone was amazed by the love and sincerity that was felt as soon as one entered the sanctuary and was mysteriously transported to the reception.
The couple viewed their wedding as an opportunity to bring family and friends together while they were united as husband and wife. Their creative efforts certainly provided a tremendous return.
Years ago I had a wedding in which the bride and groom were in their 70s. They, along with their deceased spouses, had been friends for years. On that day, they were vowing to honor one another " ... until we are separated by death."
The church was filled with scores of people wanting to share in their joy. At the appropriate time, I told the couple that they may kiss. The bride looked at the groom, smiled and loudly said, "Go ahead, that's all you can do." The sanctuary filled with laughter.
In the second chapter of John, we are told that Jesus attended a wedding at Cana of Galilee. No doubt the people were expecting a wedding like every other wedding. However, the attendees soon consumed all the wine and the host was faced with a major embarrassment. According to the second chapter of John's Gospel, after six stone jars were filled with water, Jesus transformed the ordinary water into the finest wine the steward of the feast had ever tasted. No doubt the bride, groom and wedding guests talked about the sign for the rest of their days. An ordinary wedding became an extraordinary wedding.
When I read the story of the wedding at Cana at Galilee, I realize that we view life as rather ordinary. We watch the advertisements that invite us to spend a week at a tropical resort and dream of visiting some place special. We are always complaining about the weather. We persistently whine about the aches and pains of a body that we know is destined to fail. Although we are among the wealthiest people in the world, we constantly grumble about the lack of money. We are so caught up in the ordinary that we fail to see the extraordinary.
Who will help us to see the extraordinary in the ordinary? When we read the second chapter of John, we find that Jesus can help us to see beyond the ordinary. As he turned ordinary water into joyful and colorful wine at Cana, he transforms the ordinary things of our lives into something special.
Ordinary water is used for baptism. Ordinary bread and wine is used to convey the self-giving love of Jesus Christ. Two or three ordinary people are empowered by his presence.
I rely upon an ordinary ring to remind me of the special vows made in God's presence to Rebecca. A dulcimer made of cherry reminds me of my friendship in Christ with Paul. My rosary reminds me of the many ways I have been enriched by the unique gifts of Brother John.
(The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author's church affiliation.)