Weddings have been a source of amusement recently and last weekend was no different.
I was standing at the front of the church with the groom, the best man and the groomsmen as we waited on the arrival of the bride who was delayed twenty minutes. Everyone handles pressure and stress differently and as the poor groom turned forty shades of grey, he blurted out, ‘Gone get this over as quickly as you can.’
Being sensitive as usual, I reassured him it would take as long as it would take. At this point I checked with the best man to make sure he had the rings and the coin. I had images of scissors and the lining of a suit being destroyed in a frantic effort to find these prize possessions.
Needless to say I shouldn’t have worried because the rings and coins were contained in boxes which were so big we could have used a satellite to find them.
Of course by the time it came to the exchange of the rings we had to wait five minutes as the best man struggled to get the rings out of the box.
In the course of events what I hadn’t been told was the groom was quite shy and wasn’t the sort of man who liked to publicly express his emotions.
So as tradition demands I asked him to kiss his bride. His reaction wasn’t what I expected he just looked at me, stared and said, ‘Are you for real?’ Well, I actually turned red in embarrassment for him. Just in case the rest of the congregation didn’t hear what he said I repeated through the microphone and pointed out the fact he was a bit reluctant in handing over the coin as well, a declaration which highlights the change in their status, indicating how for the rest of their lives what was his was now really hers.
By the time I had reached the reception later that evening the groom had nearly forgiven me, let’s say it’s still a work in progress.
The future can be filled with so many possibilities, dreams and expectations.
After acknowledging Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God, Peter and the apostles must have been filled with unlimited hope. They had given up everything to follow Jesus. Jobs, family and community were left behind because something deep within their hearts and souls had them responding to Jesus’ call.
It was the person of Jesus who convinced them of the truth. It’s the same story for us, in our relationship and experiences of faith in Jesus Christ we come to know the truth.
Unfortunately we can get carried away with our own expectations becoming deaf and blind to what Jesus is telling us. After all, aren’t we talking about good news, what place does suffering and the crosses have in the context of our hopes and dreams? It’s easy to believe in God when everything works out as we would expect and the world makes sense. The real journey of discipleship is being led where we would rather not go.
We can’t pick and choose the circumstances we’re confronted with in life.
We set out on our journey, each with our own vocation yet with the common baptismal call to make Christ know through our words and actions.
Often we don’t know the road ahead and the unexpected is a reality we fear with all our hearts. None of us like to feel lost or not in control of events, the experience of vulnerability and helplessness is one which we find difficult to accept or cope with.
Like Peter we sometimes need to be challenged about our expectations and what it means to believe in the God of Jesus Christ. What is revealed is not a fairytale God who makes everything alright with a happy ever after ending?
Too many of us have experienced tragedy and loss to accept this as credible or believable, pain and suffering afflict all nations, races, creeds, communities, families and individuals.
This is the mystery of life, often there are more questions than answers.
Dianne Bergant and Richard Fragomeni, in, ‘Preaching the New Lectionary’ declare convincingly that like Peter ‘We may have expected the same miraculous interventions in our lives without realizing God’s power may take a different form with us. Rather than transform the circumstances that cause us distress, he transforms us by enlightening our minds and strengthening our hearts.’
God does intervene; he helps us to carry our crosses. His Son refused to avoid pain and suffering, instead he opened his heart and mind to God the Father’s will. Only in learning to trust in God can we find true peace and the strength to face into the demands of discipleship.
The good news is not that we can avoid sickness, pain and loss, but that Jesus has shown us a way through suffering and death, guiding us towards his eternal kingdom.
This is our hope; this is the good news. Our lives our not meaningless because we are embraced by a Father’s love.