In five days, on New Year’s Eve, my only daughter will marry. Allie will officially depart her family of origin and be joined in holy matrimony to the man she loves. This joyous occasion will mark for them an exciting new beginning at the beginning of a new year.
The cycle of life continues. Organic life, certainly. Should Jon and Allie be blessed with children some day, then the species will again be perpetuated. Family blood lines will live another generation. But regardless of all that, new spiritual life will also be born on this happy day. That force in the world that can never die—the love of Christ for his people—will be placed on ceremonial display in the wedding vows that Jon and Allie exchange. They will promise to love and care for each other as Christ has already done for us. They will drink in each other with their eyes, and say “I do.”
The words that have already been written into the lives of Ellen and I, and into Jon’s parents, are about to be grafted into a new story: the life of a man and a woman who are committing to each other before God to live for him. This makes a marriage ceremony more just a ritual. It’s also a proclamation of faith that the human beings to whom God has entrusted his message will carry it forward with fidelity. This eager young couple will promise that they will love each other and that together they will explore the larger meaning of service and sacrifice.
A wedding is a profoundly religious occasion, but it’s also profoundly earthy and human, and thus gives us the best possible reason to celebrate. We will for at least a day be brightened and cheered in our otherwise perilous journeys through life. It also connects us to each other and, ultimately, to God. We have Jon and Allie to thank for reminding us through their vows that making promises and then striving with all our hearts to keep them is something that none of us has to do alone.