As of today, Ian and I have been married thirteen years. Our marriage is a teenager! And… I’m still absolutely head over heels for this human. (Ian, I know you’re reading, and #SorryNotSorry for the Schmaltz).
We celebrate our wedding anniversary as a wonderful marker, of course. But in all honesty, between the two of us, we tend to make a bigger deal of our dating anniversary. It’s the larger marker of how long we’ve been together, and next year, we will have reached twenty years. This feels remarkable.
The dating anniversary in October tends to be the larger marker for us as a couple. So when our wedding anniversary comes around, I find myself thinking of Ian and giving thanks (obvi!) but I also find myself thinking about the communities that have surrounded us during the last thirteen years. When Ian and I said yes to each other, we said yes to every home, every community, every chapter. He and I have shared all of these communities in common.
Today, I’d like to spotlight just one — the one at the beginning. I’d like to mention St. John United Presbyterian Church in New Albany, Indiana, the congregation that threw our wedding.
When I say that a church community threw our wedding, I mean so much more than saying they hosted it, or that we used their sanctuary. I mean that they threw the wedding. Honestly, every part of it, and in great love for us.
With love and care, people from that church community decorated the spaces for the service and the reception. They officiated. They played the music. They made the food. They took the photos. When the reception was over, they even did all the dishes!
On June 4, when Ian and I made commitments to one another, I had the sense that the people in that sanctuary were making commitments to us too, and that those commitments were born of many commitments over many years, because we belonged very deeply with one another. That was a real gift. It still is a real gift.
I found myself thinking about all of this again because I told stories about this congregation and this wedding in a sermon yesterday. (Remember that Kinship Series I’m doing all summer? If you’d like a copy of this sermon, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
I’ll be honest. Made of human beings, I have seen Church thrive, and I have seen Church fall wildly short of its own vision and calling. But this — this big sense of belonging and commitment over time — is one of the reasons I’m still hold out hope for this thing called Church. This is some of the best of what that vision can be.