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The Most Memorable Wedding I’ve Ever Officiated

March 12, 2014

Our study was in Romans chapter 10 yesterday.  Powerful, powerful stuff.

I displayed and discussed Romans 10:13 – “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Steven raised his hand and pointed at the screen.  “That verse,” he said, grinning widely, “was the verse that led me to Christ.”

Two periods later, Melanie waved her hands and laughed as she gestured towards the passage on the screen.  It was Romans 10:9 and 10:  “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

“Hey, those are the main verses I saw that helped me make my decision to accept Jesus into my life and let Him take over.”  She was beaming.

We discussed how salvation occurs – does God do all the decision-making?  Does the person need to work at all?  Is the time of decision totally in God’s hands?  When it came down to the final minutes I made it clear that God is totally in control of the situation and that He gets the glory.

“We don’t speak very much about God and His glory, do we?” I asked.  “Our conversations don’t often flow towards Jesus and mention Him by name, do they?  It’s as if we forget who it’s really all about.”

At the end of the day as I closed down the computer and shut off the lights in the classroom, I remembered the classic illustration to demonstrate this point.  I remember it well – I was there when it happened.

Allow me to set up the scene.

I was invited to conduct a wedding (I’m an ordained minister) in Oregon, officiating over the service for some wonderful friends of mine of years back when we all spent our teen years in rural Delaware.  Trixie and Paul were very much in love and very excited about the day of the nuptials.  It was a country wedding to be sure, but it was a grand affair, and I looked forward to it with great pleasure.

On the day of the practice, Trixie flitted about the church, carrying candles, napkins, doilies, and swatches of clothing.  In fact, virtually every female was darting about the church in some sort of preparatory activity.    I was to be the minister presenting the vows, and I was to go over the order of service with Trixie and Paul. Everyone was now being given explicit instructions as to their placement and their part of the ceremony. Penny the Ubiquitous Wedding Coordinator was giving instructions down to the last detail, and everyone1bbb was following it closely – except one person.

During the rehearsal walk-through as I was jotting down notes, I couldn’t help but notice a stocky long-haired young lady with a cowgirl swagger, parading before everyone else and totally oblivious to the need to listen to her specific order during the practice. Her arrogancy was beyond irritating; it was actually, well,  fascinating.  She was openly trying to catch everyone’s attention, but I couldn’t figure out why.  I was told that she was a friend of Trixie’s, and she was going to sing a solo during the wedding service.

Everything in the rehearsal went off without a hitch, if you excluded Cowgirl’s inattention.

The next day the church packed the auditorium for the wedding. Everyone was looking grand in their finery, especially the wedding party.  The elderly piano player was giving a fine rendition of numerous compositions by Brahms, and the many flower displays gave a soft genteel look to the room.  I checked the program as I stood before the auditorium audience.  The violins had just finished playing…

… and now it was time for the Cowgirl’s song.

All was quiet as young lady strutted to the front, grabbed a microphone and looked above the crowd in as serene a profile as she could muster.  Her accompanist, who had nudged the elderly lady off of the piano bench, played the opening chords.

Then I realized that this would be trouble.  The girl had not practiced last night … and the way she held the microphone, I knew we were all in trouble.

She was treating the mike as if it were concert quality.  She was holding it a mere inch from her mouth and I saw her swell up to bellow out her first notes, but I knew from last night’s practice that this was a small-potatoes public address system, only made for simple speaking and narrations; the electronic speakers had a limit.

It was too late to do anything.  I winced at what was coming.

It came.

She wound up and belted out he first words.

Soooo many nights I sit by my windoooooow

Waaaaiting for someone…

My gut turned.  She was singing her own rendition of “You Light Up My Life,” but not in the lilting gentle romantic way it was suppose to be sung.  She was making it more along the lines of Ethel Merman in Annie Get Your Gun.

It was loud.  She punched every word.

And Yooooou! Light! Up! My! Liiiife!

It was loud, brother.  It was almost painful.





The blast from the speakers was amazing, almost Hurricane Katrina-like.  I saw Paul gritting his teeth.  I believe a gentleman in the back lost his toupee. I mean, the windows were rattling during this song.

She hit the last notes as we clenched our jaws to the breaking point.

You light up my ….. LIIIIIIIFE!  

I believe I heard a dog howl in a nearby neighborhood.  But the best part was to come.

As she finished, slammed the microphone back into its holder and looked at the crowd in expectation.

And I saw her face fall.  Then I knew.

As I looked at her shocked expression, I realized that she fully expected a standing ovation, or at least full-throated cheering.

Instead, she got silence.

As she stomped back to her seat, I became aware of the glaring fact that this girl forgot all about the wedding.

She thought the whole ceremony was about her.

And, believe it or not, during that little part of the ceremony, I got another life lesson that would impact my approach to the ministry.

Many times we go to church to be seen, not to seek. On a weekly basis we tend to forget the all-time truth: Praise goes to God and God alone. It got me to thinking about many of the nation’s churches and the rut into which they’d fallen.  The church pleases God not when it makes itself marketable or socially exciting, but when it shows man how to put himself in humility and submission in order to properly praise God. Moreover, God wants a deep family-love from His people and wishes to display His love for anyone who would receive it.  And Christians who just look at themselves aren’t very loveable family members.

God wants to be discovered, but you have to be willing to do the searching. Realize, though, that He is the object of our worship. Not our church, not our social life, not our friends, not even our music. It’s Him and only Him.

I’m reminded of Psalm 150 and the emphasis upon God, not us:

Praise the LORD; Praise God in his sanctuary; praise Him in his mighty firmament.  Praise Him for his mighty deeds; praise Him according to his surpassing greatness. Praise Him with trumpet sound; praise Him with lute and harp.  Praise Him with tambourine and dance; praise Him with strings and pipe.  Praise Him with clanging cymbals; praise Him with loud clashing cymbals.  Let everything that breathes praise the LORD.  Praise the LORD (RSV)

The above Psalm – the final thought of all the Psalms – reminds us that it is not about us.

And one more thought, if I may.  Please – when you sing at a wedding, turn down the volume.  My ears are still ringing.

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