Thursday I have the privilege of officiating over a ceremony of renewal for a couple’s wedding vows made in earnest fifty years ago.
That’s 50, folks; as in, they got married in 1963.
Barely out of school, standing together in the preacher’s living room, her hands too sweaty to hold her bouquet, his knees knocking together like their own percussion section, how could those teenagers have ever glimpsed such a long-lasting future? What does fifty years even mean when you haven’t lived even half that time? And yet, they managed to recite, dutifully and right on cue, “I do” and, my God, they meant it. And they still mean it.
After church, I asked this “blushing bride” (as she referred to herself with a gleam in her eye most holy) what had changed in fifty years.
“The length of wedding dresses,” she replied evenly, “They are a lot shorter now!” We laughed.
“You know, Andrew, everything’s changed; everything always does. Change, I mean. And yet, look there.” She grabbed my elbow, turning my gaze towards her husband of soon-to-be-a-half-a-century who was standing with other men under a maple lit up with red like the burning bush before Moses. At that very moment, he tilted his head back, way back, and laughed from somewhere deep in his belly. She winked at me. “He just gets better with age.”
The Lord said to Moses from the burning bush that, “My name is I am who I am” but that same Hebrew phrase could be translated “I will be who I will be” (Exodus 3:14). And I hold onto to that sense of sacred future in my own marriage for, she’s right, everything does change. And so, we cling to a renewal of faith with each passing year, a deepening of love most holy: perhaps we remember our “I dos” because of God’s “I will be.”