The most important guest at any wedding is …

I was thinking recently about a long-ago wedding — the one Jesus attended at Cana of Galilee, the same one in which he became the winemaker for the feast. And that reminded me of another wedding or two.

I'm told that when my maternal grandparents decided to get married, they hitched a horse to the buckboard and rattled down the road one evening to the preacher's house. He came out with his Bible, stood beside the wagon, said a few traditional words, and asked the important questions.

They each responded, "I do," and . . . they were. Married, that is.

That's about all there was to it, but I guess it was enough. The marriage begun by that wedding lasted for more than six decades.

Whenever I hear a couple today telling me, "We just want a simple wedding," my first thought is, "Oh, dear people, you don't know what simple is. In our society, we rarely see any such thing, and, unless you want to be married almost immediately, I'll guarantee you that it will grow, and grow, and grow ('metastasize' is the word I'm tempted to use), but simple is a worthy, if elusive, goal."

The wedding author Robert Fulghum wrote about a few years ago a wedding was never intended to be in the "simple" category. From the very first, the bride's family pulled out all the stops. Lavish pre-wedding parties, the largest and most ornate church in the city, a wedding dress that cost more than the annual budgets of most small countries, enough attendants to defeat the Germans at Normandy, a full orchestra, and every wedding "trimming" known to womankind. It was a big one, a bona fide occasion of state that would make most royal families envious.

Maybe that's why the bride was even more nervous than most brides. Nervous, she started nibbling — a lot — during the hours before the ceremony. As she walked down the long aisle in her lavish dress, the gown was white, but the guests noticed that the bride herself seemed distinctly green. Just before she got to the altar, she stopped, greener than ever, bent over, and . . . tossed her cookies, setting in stone the one memory that every guest would carry with them forever from that royal occasion. If Elvis himself had later shown up to sing, the bride's retching would be what everyone remembered.

When an engaged couple sits in my office, I try to remind them that a big wedding and a big marriage have not a thing to do with each other, and that most of their effort should be spent on preparing for the marriage.

I'm not sure what sort of miracle Jesus might have worked to save the day at the wedding I just told you about, but the fact that he cared so much about that couple and their special time so long ago at Cana tells me that he cares about every facet of our lives. As the Lord enters not just our feasts but every aspect of our lives, he loves us, he cares for us, and his mercy and grace are always with us. May we never forget to invite this most important and loving Guest to be marvelously present in each moment of our lives.

Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at

ckshel@aol.com

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