If you see me around the church wearing a suit, there’s a good chance I’m heading to a funeral or a wedding. Perhaps you attend a church or know a pastor who customarily wears a suit. This is not my practice. So if you see the suit, I’m in marrying or burying mode.
This past few weeks we’ve had several funerals and weddings. My suit is starting to think I like it again.
As I’m working on preparing the message to be delivered at a service I will preside over tomorrow, I am once again struck by how fragile our lives are.
Few will wake this day and think, “This is my last day on this earth. These are my final moments.” And yet, for many it will be. Not to be overly dramatic or to suggest a fixation on death, but many who start this day walking and talking and laughing and playing will not see tomorrow. Something will happen, often unexpected, and they will not crawl back into bed at the end of the day preparing to do it all over again. They will die and today will be their last time to brush teeth, smile at a neighbor, hug the kids.
Likewise, many will marry today. Some in elaborate and expensive ceremonies and with all the grandeur they can afford. Some will stand before a pastor, judge or another official and pledge their commitments to each other. The range of ways in which folks get married varies greatly and encompasses all sorts of traditions and expectations. Still, I don’t think any of them will look into the eyes of the one they marry thinking, “This will end in divorce.” We know of course, many will. Surely few expect adultery or abuse or financial ruin or any of the other harsh realities so many married couples face. Many will marry today and the marriage will not make it. It will not survive.
I’m not the only one to realize people will die today and marriages will struggle. Still people get out of bed and get going. People will walk down the aisles and say, “I do.”
Statistics are against us. Disease and culture sneak up behind us. Forces well beyond our control or even comprehension plot and scheme placing us within their cross-hairs.
Are we too simple to grasp the gravity of the situation? Are we so arrogant to believe we will be the exception to the norms?
Do we embrace the possibility today may be our last and our marriages may fail and our plans and dreams may shrivel and wither because hope is stronger than despair? Because love is stronger than apathy? Because light dispels even the greatest darkness?
We don’t go around wondering if today is our last day because to do so would leave us paralyzed. We would die almost as if by a self-fulfilling prophecy We don’t enter into marriage expecting it to dissolve because such an expectation would make the possibility a reality.
I suspect for some this is more a naive optimism, but for others it is a hope rooted in experience and grounded in faith.
The danger lies in believing our experiences represent the only possible experiences We wake day after day and at some point we forget how wonderful that is. We go through the motions of our lives and we don’t see living as the miracle, as the gift, it is. We take our partners for granted, forgetting the power of the commitments we made, the convent we pledge ourselves to.
The danger lies in believing our faith doesn’t need to grow, that a simple trust will cover all circumstances. And it will, until something big and hairy enters our life. Until the wheels fall off and we go skidding past the guard rail and into a reality we had previously whizzed by unawares.
So we hope. Not in ourselves or even ultimately in each other. We, at least those of us who claim Christ as Lord, place our hope in Jesus. In the promises of God. If the power of the Spirit.
We decide fear will not rule us. Anxiety will not be our modus operandi. Selfishness and greed will be set aside. We make this first as a decision, as a mental assent, and then as a way of life, as a state of the heart. It’s a journey. A process.
It’s hard, but we have one who has gone before us. One who has overcome death and whose light is a beacon in the darkness.
And we do have each other. To remind each other of our hope. To come alongside each other when the light seems dim. To carry one another when we find one of us is paralyzed and unable to find a way to Jesus.
I got out of bed today and I have this moment to make a difference. To love. To share. To hope. If you got out of bed today, you have the same opportunities. What will you do with them?
Life is better together,