Thursday, August 28, 2014

Engaging in the Gulp

When we arrived for the wedding we were told to go to a table holding over 100 drinking glasses. On this table there were a variety of glasses, one for each of the 175 guests. Our name was found on our glass as well as a personal message from Sarah and Ali.
My glass said, “Dear Dad, We’re so grateful you’re part of our family. We love you and are consistently appreciative of your support. Love, Sarah and Ali.”
I will always cherish this glass.
The wedding itself was the most unique service I’ve ever attended in my life. Sarah and Ali introduced the service by talking about the ‘priesthood of all believers’. They based the structure of the service on the Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer wedding/commitment ceremony. It included prayers, litanies, and Scripture readings.
They adapted the service to include parts for over sixty different people. These were people they had contacted ahead of time to take part in the service. Each of us had a few lines to say. Seated in the round, with Sarah inconspicuously at one end of the pavilion and Ali at the other, we stood up at our seats and spoke our lines loudly.
What a joy to listen to everyone share their lines of Scripture or prayer! I especially appreciated the four year old little boy who said very deliberately, “And God is love.” His sister said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The three sermon-lessons were shared by different lay people who spoke with such wisdom and knowledge about the Scriptures.
The Psalter reading was a unique experience. There were many people present from the bilingual Montessori public charter school where Sarah teaches in Washington D.C. Therefore, half of our Psalter reading was in Spanish and half of it was in English. 
The end of the service featured Sarah and Ali moving from their seats on the opposite ends of the pavilion. They met and shared very simple, heartfelt vows they had written for each other. Sarah and Ali each talked about the specific ways they were committing to share their love for each other as 175 people listened, many with tears sneaking down their cheeks.  It was so simple, yet so beautiful; so different from any other wedding, yet inspiring to all—encouraging us all to do better, to be better, to be who God meant for us to be…to be more real…to engage in the “gulp” of God’s Kingdom.

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