Sunday, August 04, 2013
"You may seal your vows with a kiss"
I don't believe that I have ever been to a wedding where the minster said, "You may seal your vows with a kiss." And those were the words that Patrick said after Grace and Austin exchanged their vows and rings. It suited this wedding so much better than "You may kiss the bride."
Most weddings in our country are planned around the bride being the centerpiece of the event. However, the sealing of the vows, a covenant commitment between a man and his bride declared in the presence of immediate family, some grandparents, and a few friends, the union of two becoming one in Christ was the keystone of this wedding day. This wedding was about the foundation and not the facade.
Once the couple was engaged we talked about Grace and Austin's wedding. First the date, then the venue, the guests and the food. Even with a simple and intimate affair and a modest budget there were many details to workout. Our talk about marriage had been ongoing for a number of years.
After some deliberation the date of the 4th of August 2012 was chosen. The most appropriate place to have Grace's wedding was L'abri in Southborough, MA and by God's grace and the hospitality of the L'abri staff it was indeed where it took place. Then there was the dress, the guest list, the pastor, where we would have the reception, photographer, flowers, music and other assorted details.
Some people have a wedding planner, some brides do it on their own, some have a girlfriend, their bridal party or family member do it and for us, it was pretty much Grace and me. Even with all of modern technology at our finger tips, it was still not easy planning while I was here in the Northeast and she was in the southeast, where the newlyweds now reside.
Aside from all the physical real time preparations starting in March, there were the prayers that had started back when Grace was a baby. Knowing that God had given us this precious gift of a daughter born 23 years ago today (the one week mark of being a bride.) We were to pray for her life, her salvation, her future. With that came the joy, the responsibility of raising and training her, guiding her. Finally, there were the test launches and giving her opportunities to make decision under our roof and hopefully our loving authority.
The prayers have been heartfelt and will continue to be. When Dan and I found out we were expecting it was with great excitement and a bit of terror. We were going to be responsible for another human being. God is the giver of life and we are the vehicle that He uses to bring forth life. Mothers and Fathers are life givers. God is our life sustainer, so we have been dependent upon Him in the raising of our little Greek girl who we saw become a beautiful woman. (And of course, her sister and brother to follow) Indeed we prayed for Grace that she would become the woman God wanted her to be. We did not draw up lists about her future husband but we did pray for him and his parents, that he would be walking in the Truth and put his faith and trust in Christ alone.
Grace was named after the grace of God. Dan and I know the power of His saving and ministering GRACE and it only seemed fitting that when he blessed us with a little girl her name ought to be a testimony of his character. There are pages that I could write about the prayers that we have prayed for our daughter and her future. We have prayed prior to and throughout her engagement to Austin.
Having already raised her and sent her out for her first launch in the summer of 2007 and then a few more before she headed to Covenant in the fall of 2009, there have been many conversations between us and Grace. Our guidance and input was not only welcomed but also sought after. This of course drove us to our knees time and time again, wanting of course to give wise counsel, ask the right questions and communicate in love. And all the while knowing that we are just a couple of ragamuffin Christians doing our best to seek the LORD daily. (Reading that over reminds me of how radical grace is and how depended on God I sound writing that. Lots of people think and say, "well you have been a Christian for so long don't you think that you ought to be better than that by now, i.e. less dependent on God by now?" The counter intuitiveness of the Gospel is that as we journey on in faith we actually become more dependent on God, not less. We see our weaknesses more clearly. Better leave a period there before my parenthetical becomes a whole other post. ;)
Dan and I ourselves realize that our relationship that is held together by our Lord Jesus Christ and trust on Him, His Grace, His Mercy, His Love and His Truth in our lives is to be an example to our children and now particularly Grace and Austin. We are to be a testimonial to Jesus and His love for His bride and the bride for the Lover of her soul.
The decision to marry was not taken lightly by Austin and Grace. They have been thoughtful about this covenant. They know that this is a sacred relationship, marriage. We don't talk about marriage in terms of "holy matrimony" in our culture because 1 out of every 2 marriages end in divorce. The time to decide about divorce is before you get married. You need to be committed to the extent that you agree before marrying that divorce is not an option, taking it off the table ahead of time is probably one of the best things that any engaged couple can do.
The wedding day is a day of celebration and a day of making a solemn vow before God and witnesses to one another. It is also the first day of the rest of their lives together. Quietly, the girls and I made our way to L'abri. Grace would be beautifully & simply adorned for her groom. A simply white linen dress, fun jewelry, hair and make-up done, soft music playing in the back ground. The mother of the bride just taking it all in relaxed and trusting in the LORD. The day was here and I set out to enjoy it. Taking time to pray before I dressed.
Then we made our way outside for pictures. There was laughter and light heartedness coupled with reflection and seriousness to the portraits being taken of the bride. And in what some may say a role reversal, the groom arrived but of course with no fanfare. Kate Ganim, one of Grace's dear friends played the guitar as people made there way into the library of "the big house" as it is affectionately called by those who have been a part of L'abri. Grandma Suzie was the first to arrive. She was a whole hour early and she said, I am always late for everything. We said, well not today. Once the rest of the grandparents had finally arrived, we took our places. Grace and Austin were both seated next to their respective parents. When the Pastor, Patrick Slyman rose from his seat, Austin, Grace and Dan rose. Today was the first page of chapter two of the new life that Grace and Austin will forge together by God's grace and their willingness to pledge themselves to one another. ( The preface would be the beginning of the relationship and Chapter 1 the engagement period)
A cozy and very warm library, a small number of witnesses, this was an intimate gathering. A small number of friends and an even smaller number of family members would affirm this new couple as they start their life together. In a library that held more memories for Grace than our current home, Dan gave Grace to Austin and Austin and Grace gave themselves to one another. Dan prayed over the bride and groom, Patrick gave what I would call a wedding charge to the couple. I had the honor of blessing them with Words from the Scriptures. The vows were exchanged with tears of joy. The rings given as a symbol and placed upon each others fingers with a little push like you give to a toddler's sneaker. The pastor said with authority, "You may seal your vows with a kiss" and then pronounced them Man & Wife.
Originally, I penned this blog on Grace's 23rd birthday as stated in the post and never knew whether or not I would hit the publish button. It is with pleasure to report that the first year has been filled with love in the midst of the challenges. We are grateful that we were all together for Grace's graduation from college. Happy Anniversary Grace and Austin. We love you both so much.