Posts Tagged ‘covenant’

A View From The Officiant

July 28, 2014

Weddings are beautiful events, but what is it like to see it from a perspective few see it from? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I recently got the honor of uniting my friends Joe and Lacy in holy matrimony. This was the first wedding I have ever performed and I describe getting to perform it as honoring and humbling. I thought that many people might not know what a wedding is like from the perspective of the minister, so I figured why not share it and have it open for anyone else I might train later on in ministry who will perform a wedding some day?

Naturally, I spent most of the time before the wedding with the groom. In fact, I never even saw the bride until she walked down the aisle. With Joe, I was his friend and counselor both who was asking him all the questions that needed to be asked. “Are you sure you want to go through with this?” “Do you know what you’re getting yourself into?” None of this was said to discourage him from marrying, but to let him really think about what he was doing. I also did tell him he doesn’t really know what he’s getting into. None of us do. He would learn over time.

Meanwhile, we also followed the idea that the groom should not see the bride at all until she walks down the aisle. When we passed by the bridal suite, I was Joe’s personal escort letting him know the path was clear and loudly announcing the groom was on the floor. (Yet the bride had so much make-up being put on she probably never came close to leaving the bridal suite.)

So let’s move straight to the ceremony. My own wife did play a part as when I walked in to the ceremony, she was walking right by my side and I got her to her seat before walking up. This I think is an excellent idea as it shows that the minister who is marrying is hopefully also taking marriage seriously.

There is nothing quite like getting to perform a ceremony and it really shows you the gravity of what is going on. In a sermon, you really have to make sure that the audience is paying attention so you spice it up with some humor or points that will catch the audience off-guard and make them wonder what you’re saying. Not so with a wedding! Everyone is already paying attention!

In the case of Joe and Lacy’s wedding, they wrote out their own vows and ceremony. They also gave me a hand in it with some things I wanted to say. (Such as changing the power invested in me by the state of TN and instead replacing that with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They wanted a Christian ceremony, but I guess they wanted me to decide how best to say it.)

I also made sure to put in a part about how the audience has a role to play in the ceremony. We so often think the wedding is just for the bride and groom. It is not. These events take place before witnesses for a reason. The audience is there to say “We believe in the unity of this couple and we are here to support them throughout their marriage.” If we had this building up of support as needed from a community of fellow Christians, perhaps the divorce rate would be lower than it is.

While the audience is paying attention, it was important to speak with volume. They needed to hear what was being said. I also know and tell anyone getting married that wedding ceremonies normally do not go perfectly. Mistakes will be made. Some people will flub over their lines. I know I made a mistake in a line at one time. Keep going. The show must go on regardless and you cannot focus on the mistake. You must go on with the marriage. (Geez. Maybe that’s also a good tip for the marriage. You think?)

There is something incredible in the time when it comes that you pronounce the couple as husband and wife. It’s really hard to describe but even later in the day, I would sometimes be trembling thinking about what had happened. Two people have their lives changed forevermore because of some words that are said, but something in the vows comes back to me as well. No ceremony can create your marriage. It is you who do that through how you live your lives.

Also, there is the added bonus that as you perform such a ceremony, you realize how important it is to honor marriage. This was something else I added into the ceremony in preparation as reminding the audience they were there to be supports because marriage is not honored as it used to be in our country any more. Performing this wedding made me want to make sure to honor the marriage that I have even more.

Of course, when all was said and done, while it was nice to get compliments, at that point, aside from signing the marriage license, I was a guest from that point on which included snacks and cake and oh yes, the dancing of course. (That also is another great benefit to having your wife at a wedding. Any excuse after all….)

As I said, this was my first wedding I’ve ever performed and I was thankful that it was done for my friends. My great thanks to Joe and Lacy for letting me play such an important part in their wedding. The ceremony was indeed beautiful, but make sure that what starts off beautiful stays beautiful as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

One Year Later. What I’ve Learned. Covenant.

July 30, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I did not realize how long my last series would take as I had hoped to start this one around the anniversary, but it was not to be. As readers know, my wife and I recently celebrated our first anniversary and for those interested, I think I can assure you she was very pleased with how her husband treated her.

Having gone through a year now, I want to write about what all I’ve learned in yet another series. I hope this will be helpful first off to my friends who are single. If you wish to marry, I hope that what I write will be of encouragement to you and a way you can start preparing yourself. Second, I want to write it to single friends who through divorce, being widowed, or just never married and not wanting to be married, can see some more about the married life. Some might look back with fondness. Some might understand more what goes on with their married friends. Third, I want to write this for those who are currently in marriage and quite new to it like ourselves. Hopefully, my experience can ring with your experience and we can come have good discussion on this issue. (We do have a Facebook page for those wanting discussion as well) Finally, I write for those who have been married for longer and here I definitely welcome your feedback. I’m writing more from personal experience and certainly realizing I have a lot to learn.

So having said that, let’s begin.

Some of you might be surprised with the title. Did I not know marriage was a covenant beforehand? Of course I did. However, there is a way of knowing in a more abstract way as if you know facts about something, and then there is a way of knowing intimately in that you have personal experience of it. You can read and read about something like public speaking, but it takes on a whole new meaning when you do it.

Marriage is a covenant and is in that way unlike so many other agreements we make. If you don’t like your job, you can conceivably quit it and go work elsewhere. You are not obligated to work for the same company all your life. If you don’t like the school you’re at, you can go to another. If you don’t like your degree program, you can even change that. If you don’t like your roommate, you can get another. If your friends are a problem, well you see the pattern.

Not so with marriage. In marriage, you have come and bound yourself to one person and said that you will honor that person till death do you part.

Keep in mind, this isn’t a private agreement either. It’s an agreement made before God and men. In America, there have to be witnesses to every wedding. Someone else has to be able to attest that they saw these two people become husband and wife.

That seriousness needs to sink in and in marriage, it does. You come to realize what it means to have your whole life connected to this person and to have part of you revolve as it were around this person. You cannot think of yourself as a lone entity any more. There are two of you together.

Notice all the ways traditionally this is said to take place.

“For richer or poorer.”

If you and your spouse become rich, you are to remain together. Money could be a great temptation to make one person stay away as there is no need of dependence or it could be used to get away. Greed could easily enter into a relationship. The marriage could be more about earning money than about the love of the man and the woman. I’m not saying it always happens, but it could.

And for poorer? Well I assure you readers that at the time of this writing, my wife and I are definitely in the poorer state so much so that I do get very anxious often about our finances. (Keep in mind that if you support what we are doing here, you can donate to us and you can do so through as a tax-deductible gift as well.)

My job that was paying me very well laid me off three months before my wedding. It was through the donations and gifts of several others that we managed to stay afloat and even have a good honeymoon. Any time I have been worried about finances, God has always come through somehow, but that does not mean that I do not worry.

It can be hard to be poor and married, especially since you want to do so much for that other person and you feel like you are failing. Money is something couples can regularly fight about. Couples should discuss money, but they should also realize where money comes from ultimately. It’s from God. This doesn’t mean to be reckless, but it means to love through the hard times despite the financial situation and when you get back in good financial standing again, learn from the previous experience.

“In sickness and in health.”

Sickness has happened often in our marriage. I will give one example. My grandmother passed away back in November of last year and I drove to Knoxville to do her funeral. It was just after Thanksgiving and we drove back and returned here to Charlotte. Shortly afterwards, we had gone to bed one night and I was reading Romans 8 to my wife, while battling a little stomach ache that had been highly persistent that evening.

She saw the light reaching under our bedroom door. I told her that I had left it on thinking she might need the light to get something to take with her medications. She told me she’d already taken them and asked me to turn the light off. Very well. I get up to do so and my stomach seems to keep acting up.

Let’s just say that when I made it back to our bedroom, I commenced to screaming, screaming at a volume the Mrs. was really unused to.

We have a good friend whose sons were groomsmen in our wedding who came over then to see me. He started pushing my stomach at which I screamed again. He insisted on taking me to the emergency room, seeing as due to a medical condition my wife can’t drive. Thus, the three of us went to the hospital and around 3:30 in the morning, we found out that I had gallstones and would have to have my gallbladder removed.

My wife was my companion throughout all of this. I was no stranger to surgery, but this time, I was scared of it. Why? “What if I don’t wake up? Who will take care of her?” Fortunately, as you can tell, I did wake up, and I have been told by numerous people that my wife’s name was the last thing I said before I went under and the first thing I said when I came out.

To make this story more interesting, we live in an apartment with a walkway to the mainland and I had to go to an appointment once, still unable to drive. Some friends came by to pick me up. It’d been snowing lately and the complex had not removed the ice from our walkway and I didn’t realize how bad it was until I was airborne and crashed down. (That happened a second time on the way to church by the way)

We’ve had the flu, we’ve had sinus infections, we’ve had rushes to the Emergency room. Everything has happened.

Keep in mind paying for all of this definitely adds to the “for poorer” part.

Sickness is a time to come together. It’s where you learn that you have to rely on the other and the idea of the glamour of marriage is not so readily seen when your spouse looks to be in absolutely terrible condition. Still, you have to stick together.

Health might seem easier, but it could be health could be a hard time as well. When you’re healthy, you don’t really realize how much you need the other person. It’s easy to take them for granted. You don’t have to do anything with them because you always have your health. Well not always.

“To love, honor, and cherish.”

These are commands. These are not options. These are also not feelings. These are actions. You are not commanded to feel. You are commanded to do. This is in fact your privilege. I plan to expand much more on aspects of these throughout this series so I’ll leave it at that for the time being.

“Till death do you part.”

And here is the covenant aspect. This is until death do you part. Marriage is final and marriage is for life. I realize there are sad circumstances where that isn’t always the case, such as abuse or infidelity, but too many people seem to want to break the knot for reasons that are not biblical.

My wife and I are in this for life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. As one continues down that road, they do notice several changes along the way. What are they?

Well that’s what this series is about isn’t it, so I guess you’ll have to keep reading as we go along.

But today, the point is that marriage is a covenant. Let that really sink in.