Thursday, August 02, 2018

Three-Hundred Years . . . Of Marriage! (Peter A. Black)

I acknowledge the passing a week or so ago of two members of The Word Guild. Many of us, myself included, benefitted hugely from the generosity and grace and writing-related skills of Anna Elizabeth Wiseman and Wendy Elaine Nelles.
Wendy’s memorial service in Simcoe, Ontario, was a full-house event. I saw a good number of TWG friends there, and am glad I was able to connect with several of them. Another memorial event will be held in the Toronto area later. 
I regret not being able to attend Anna’s service. However, I honour and thank God for both ladies’ lives and ministries, and I pray with others of you for our Heavenly Father’s comfort and peace for their loved ones.
The piece below is on another topic. Unfortunately, I don’t have permission to post photos of the participants.
Close family and friends crowded into the space, along with supportive resident neighbours.  Smiling, helpful staff pinned boutonnieres on five ‘grooms’ and placed beautiful bouquets in the hands of the ‘brides.’  Five couples – three-hundred years total, to date, of shared life!
Mine was the distinct honour and joy of ‘officiating’ at this Marriage Affirmation (or Rededication), last week. In the case of three couples only one of the respective partners is resident in the care facility, whereas both partners of two couples are resident.
The length of those marriages currently range from fifty-four to sixty-five years. Last year, we said goodbye to a couple who passed away in their seventy-forth year of marriage. Wow! How common is that kind of duration likely to be in our society in the years to come?

Not "my" couples. Credit: ; google free
People in developed countries on average are living longer nowadays, but I wonder about the longevity of stable marriages or lifetime spousal relationships from here on.
Back to the event: A group of senior musicians played golden oldies, while the brides and grooms lined up in the hallway. Two were in wheelchairs. One gentleman, his hands gripping his walker handles with all his might tried to control his incompliant limbs, aided by his wife.

The musicians struck up, I’m Getting Married in the Morning . . . get me to the church on time. The couples filed in and formed a curved line, proudly standing as able or sitting, side by side. Their radiant faces and sparkling eyes beamed out joy and love.
I detected a wistful, far-away look radiating from several faces, which I’m sure communicated that their minds had drifted back to that memorable day when they declared their commitment to their spouse, many decades before. 

In my introductory remarks I shared this verse often read in traditional Christian weddings:

“Unless the LORD builds the house [or, household / family], its builders labor in vain” (Psa. 127:1a, NIV). 
I added that our Lord taught that those who are wise build their house (including household and family and life) on a rock; that is, on the sure foundation of Jesus and His teachings and wisdom. Against these the storms of life cannot prevail.
It has been said:
A smooth sea never made a successful sailor. 
Undoubtedly those couples weathered many a storm throughout the decades. My concluding thought before leading them through their affirmation was in the adage:
The perfume of kindness travels even against the wind.

Moments later, I led the couples through an affirmation of their commitment to each other in the “sight of God and these witnesses.” And then, following the benediction the band struck up again, and cake and ice-cream and punch were served.
God bless’em, every one.  God bless’em!

Peter A. Black is a retired pastor – well, sort of retired – and lives in Southwestern Ontario. He writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column, P-Pep! and is author of Raise Your Gaze ... Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart, and Parables from the Pond – a children's / family book. ~~+~~

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