Wednesday, 17 October 2018

My real life version of Four Weddings and a Funeral...

THIS summer I have been invited to four weddings. Sadly, between the first two weddings, I

THIS summer I have been invited to four weddings. Sadly, between the first two weddings, I attended a funeral.

It struck me that common to all five events was the tangible strength of loving commitment present within each couple and family.

The first wedding took place in a north London church with a lively, ethnically mixed congregation and the prayers and readings chosen by the young couple showed their love and commitment to God as well as to each other.

Their concern for the environment and justice issues showed throughout their celebrations: having local garden flowers, not imported blooms; the  200-head reception was catered for from food “over-ordered” by restaurants and supermarkets (in-date but surplus and otherwise thrown away); the bridal party’s clothes were beautifully handmade and the dress code was “nothing new” (Helen House Hospice shop provided mine).

The sense of integrity was inspiring.

Then, in a packed Bath Abbey, I attended my cousin’s funeral.

When I visited him five days before he died, his eyes had shone brighter than ever with love for his wife of 55 years.

His devotion to God was lifelong — the backbone of his various long-term involvements — and he had shown and multiplied love in abundance to family, friends and colleagues.

The second wedding was celebrated in a Shropshire countryside barn. Having been committed to each other for several years, the couple wanted to make a public declaration and party!

Though completely different from the London wedding, the flowers were from their beautiful garden and there, too, was such a sense of love.

My son has been one of the bridegroom’s friends ever since childhood and close friendship had grown between the families.

The palpable sense of love and loyalty (amid all the hilarity) between friends — some of nearly 30 years’ standing — was heartwarming.

The fourth event was celebrating the ruby wedding of a friend from 45 years ago — we worked together in Uganda.

Again, their enduring love and loyalty to their friends was most apparent.

My nephew’s wedding will be in the Oxford Community Church next month, providing another opportunity for the older generation to applaud and encourage the pledges of the younger.

We are assured in 1 John 4.7 that “All love is from God” and, whether in joy or in sadness, we can all celebrate the amazing phenomenon of love and commitment that unites each couple, growing when nurtured with self-giving, forgiveness and trust to become the foundation of married life.

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