Both are absolutely accurate. There were two weddings and two roles.
First of all, it was such a wonderful experience to be a part of the wedding at which I officiated Saturday in Oklahoma City. The bride was one of my favorite Youth from the parish I served in the OKC area for nine years between 1987 and 1996. She has a quick wit and a good heart (as well as being extremely pretty – a comment that will embarrass her). She and her husband bring a total of three young boys to the family. It is a privilege to be a part of two people’s lives as they move into such an important time in their lives. We spent some time together a few weeks ago talking about their relationship and the dynamics of their personalities that are likely to impact that relationship. We talked about the challenges of dealing with a blended family. They bring all the tools needed to build a strong and lasting marriage. I was proud to do the wedding.
The wedding was well-planned and reflected the good planning. I couldn’t help but reminisce in the message about the bride and two of her friends (one of whom sang beautifully at the wedding) who had a quirky habit when they were in their early teen years. If we were around one another when food was being served (happens often at church), they enjoyed providing me with a look at some “see-food.” (I will spare the details.) This was my chance to get even. I threatened to teach those young boys how to provide their parents with such a vision. There was a very satisfying (to me) look of horror on both those Mom’s faces (the Soloist also has young boys). I just realized that I forgot to follow through on that threat. They have been spared.
Now to the second wedding, the one I crashed. I am embarrassed that I actually did it, but I would have missed having time with many friends from former years, including the parents of the Bride. At the first wedding two couples from my former parish there mentioned that they were going to another wedding that evening. The family in which that wedding was taking place was also a member of that parish, people who had become friends as well as Parishioners. The Bride was about ten years old when I left that parish to come to the Kansas parish. She impressed me very much when I visited just about a year ago and she made a point of coming to the gathering at my former parish to talk with me since her parents were out of town. It was very affirming to be remembered by someone who had been so young when I was there.
There is pretty much nothing I can say that actually justifies crashing that wedding. Once I was there, I saw many people from that parish, people I had come to know well, people with whom relationship has been renewed in the last couple of years. Yes, I stayed for the reception!!! I should be flogged. I ended up at a table filled with friends. I was surprised and pleased to see who was officiating at the wedding. He is a Pastor that I came to know well during my time there. His wife had severe Diabetes for many years, with complications including the loss of much of her sight. He cared for her until she died three years ago. While we didn’t have time in an appropriate setting to talk about our common experience, the interactions we had, including a big bear hug, were steeped in that commonality. He is a merciless kidder, so there was much laughter throughout the evening.
There!! I have confessed. I am embarrassed that I actually did crash their wedding, and I would have missed so much had I not done so.
The weekend also included attending the Sunday worship service at my former congregation. It continues to be very comforting to have such a welcoming group of people there with whom I remain connected.