“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”
I have never taken a formal poll of clergy concerning weddings, but in casual conversation with most the clergy I know, the majority would rather do a funeral than wedding. Weddings are tough . . . especially when it involves a family member. Weddings are unpredictable because you are dealing with live, breathing people . . . funerals deal with dead people. Dead people are pretty predictable . . . they are not going to show up at the rehearsal drunk . . . they are not going to get cold feet at the last minute . . . they are not going to faint during the service . . . they are just going to lay there. It is easier to deal with funerals than it is with weddings . . . weddings are a little on the chaotic side. No, let me take that back . . . they are just plain old chaotic . . . especially when it involves family or future family. I should know.
I will admit that one of the reasons that I became a minister is because I wanted to be in control . . . but, the joke was on me, ministers have no control or power . . . especially when it comes to weddings. I am not good at anticipation. I am pretty lousy at it because I am not good with surprises . . . weddings seem to have lots of surprises. This past weekend I got to officiate at the wedding of the youngest son to a wonderful young lady. It was an event that created a lot of anxiety in me . . . a lot of anticipation . . . because I did not know what I would be dealing with . . . I had very little control. My role in the weeks leading up to the wedding centered on the phrase, “Yes, dear” . . . to both the wife and mother of the bride. In the last week of wedding preparations I felt as if I had stepped out of the frying pan into the fire. Everything felt out of control . . . chaotic.
It was like trying to mix water and oil. Ministers are not always great at mixing water and oil . . . well, at least not me. Imagine trying to bring together very different families (which all families are) in a matter of two days and whipping them into a wedding machine. A lot can happen when you bring together a lot of different families, lots of different people, and a whole bunch of strangers (at least to me) to celebrate a marriage. People came from as far as New York City, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, Arizona, Nebraska, and all parts of Montana to attend the wedding of our son and newly ordained daughter-in-law. Water and oil . . . it didn’t mix very well without a whole lot of shaking up. In fact, it was chaotic, to say the least.
If you have ever been a part of a wedding, you know what I am talking about. There is so much to do . . . from the rehearsal and dinner to the actual wedding service, dinner, and dance . . . from arranging flowers and decorations . . . from getting hair done and learning to tie bow ties . . . keeping the wedding party sober . . . to feeding the masses who have gathered and are waiting for the real deal to take place . . . greeting guests . . .looking for boutonnieres . . . leaking pipes . . . entertaining the babies and bored adults . . . more food . . . changing weather conditions . . . and, well, a hundred people who think that their way is the best! It was chaos . . . plain and simple chaos. Like herding a herd of cats.
Thus the big wedding began with hopes, dreams, and aspirations . . . wanting the best for the bride and groom . . . after all, it is their wedding that everyone wants them to remember. I don’t know how well most of the couples remember the weddings I officiated at, but I can tell you that I have had many nightmares over the years remembering the weddings I have officiated at . . . chaos. Dead people . . . well, they are dead. Dead people don’t give you grief.
But, weddings always surprise me in the end. As time progressed, people began working together . . . they set aside differences for the common good of the bride and groom . . . they began focusing on the two individuals that they loved . . . they started talking and telling stories . . . there was laughter, there were tears . . . they broke bread together at the table . . . bridges were being built . . . relationships were forming. The oil was slowly, but surely mixing with the water. Things were coming together . . . coming together . . . the chaos was subsiding ever so slowly.
In the end, it all came together. The couple was married in a beautiful ceremony by the Stillwater River in Montana . . . their vows of love and devotion were affirmed by those who had gathered . . . there was applause as they were proclaimed “Mister and Missus” . . . and, the celebration began. Oh sure, there were glitches . . . the preacher was a little long winded (wonder what that Bozo’s problem was) . . . the bride nailed the groom with a hammer . . . the wind and rain made a brief appearance about the time the wedding dinner was in full swing. Despite it all, everything actually went well. There was joy . . . dancing . . . laughter . . . storytelling with toasts . . . hugs . . . more laughter . . . silliness . . . and, a whole lot of love emanating from everyone gathered there. Love for the bride and groom . . . and, one another. There was even a remembrance for those whose lives were way too short and whose presence was deeply missed. It was a good celebration . . . out of the chaos a dancing star was born. The bride and groom became a family and our families grew by one.
It is out of the whirlwind that God often spoke and appeared. It was out of the rainbow, after the flood that God covenanted with the people. It was also out of the fire that God appeared and spoke to Moses. Out of the whirlwind that God lead the people through the wilderness. It was out of the wind that the Holy Spirit made its appearance and blessed those gathered. It was out of the chaos that God made life on earth, created animals, and all of us. Out of the chaos comes dancing starts . . .
God was presence in it all this past weekend of the wedding . . . weaving and moving . . . touching and prodding . . . whispering . . . assuring and reassuring. God was present in the chaos. Author Jeanette Winterson writes, “In the space between the chaos and shape there was another chance.” Isn’t that what God is all about . . . another chance? Isn’t that what weddings are about . . . reminding those of who are gathered, maybe even more than those getting married . . . that there is another chance . . . always another chance when God is involved. Another chance to be a dancing star.
I think that we all forget that. It is good to be reminded of that every once in a while . . . I want to thank my youngest son and our newest daughter (in-law) for allowing us to be a part of this special day . . . I am not sure who received the bigger blessing, the couple or those gathered. Yeah, we clergy have poor memories and keep doing weddings over and over again . . . but we never get bored watching the birth of a new family . . . a dancing star was born out of the chaos . . . may it have a long, beautiful life. There are more stars to be born . . . the chaos is just beginning, but that is another blog for another time. Congratulations guys . . . we love you both!