March 23

Good morning and happy Friday!

Today’s scripture: 1 CORINTHIANS 12:27-13:3

27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

1If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

I presided at my first wedding in my first year of ministry in Corvallis.  I had never met the couple previous to our first meeting together.  He proposed in a Starbucks so I knew that we would get along and our first meeting went really well. There were a couple of things we were nervous about; mainly that she was Catholic and he was Baptist and that meant I got to answer to both of their mothers.  They picked me to preside at their wedding because they liked what they researched about the United Methodist church and they loved that their pastor could be young and female.  We worked together through their sessions of premarital counseling and built a lovely ceremony.  I was completely nervous about running the rehearsal and presiding at my first wedding but knew that I couldn’t let it show.
I got to the church early for the rehearsal under the pretense of getting ready when really I was trying to calm my nerves. I also wanted to scout out how the moms were doing.  During that time of prep, I came to realize something.  The moms both came to say hello and hug me and the preparations were well underway.  The rehearsal ran smoothly and all was well.  I figured out that they really just wanted everything to go well too.  The community was making sure that all was well for this couple, the family, and even for me.
The day of the wedding came and when I came downstairs in my robe and the groom met up with me at the back of the sanctuary to go up to the front.  He said, “wow, you look really professional!” We trotted up to the front of the sanctuary and then I realized the groom was extremely nervous.  He kept asking, “are you ok? are we ok? I’m ok. You’re ok. We’re ok?” I finally turned to him and told him, “just breathe.  All of these people are here for you and your bride to be your community and to support you.  You are she are here to support one another in the midst of community.”
And then I got it.  That scripture above.  I had learned that Paul was talking about community and love within, not just the proverbial wedding scripture, but for the entire community but until that moment I don’t know what I had just learned.  Paul is talking about everyone gathering around in support and love.  He isn’t just talking about a couple but about everyone’s love of God and other. It’s a community thing.
Now when I talk with couples about their wedding, I make sure to talk about these scriptures that they use for illustrating love.  They get to hear about how it’s not just about them but about the community making a vow as well.  They hear about how we are all in this together otherwise they wouldn’t have had a ceremony and wouldn’t have thought it was important that their friends and family come.  And this is what I preach to when the community gathers.  This scripture wasn’t just made for movies but it was made because community matters when we talk about unions and about living with God.  We make a vow that we are all in this together.  Today, in our Lenten journey, I hope we can recognize the love around us.  What are some ways that we could highlight that love of community today? How will you show it? Reconnect with a friend? Connect with someone new? Call up part of your community to remember that you are community?
And yes, I have plenty of crazy wedding stories.  That one went off without too many hitches….:)
Prayer:  O God, there are so many ways to love show us ways that we might recognize that love around us.  Renew our covenant to be your people and in community around us.  Open our eyes that we might see the importance of your people and of love this morning.

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