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In Front of You

by The Rev. Ross Putnam

Ross  PutnamJohn 2: 9-10

[9] When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

I’m guessing that with the possible exception of baseball, weddings have more prescribed traditions, practices, habits, customs, rituals, superstitions, and beliefs than any part of our society.  Think about it.

In baseball, when players come up to bat some touch a specific spot on their caps or uniforms.  Others go through specific gyrations before stepping into the batter’s box.

What wedding would be complete without agonizing how to keep the couple (who have been living together for months if not years) from not seeing each other on the big day?  Who has been to a wedding where there isn’t an argument about who really should be the Maid of Honor?  Or heard toasts at the reception which go on way too long and center on past triumphs – physical, mental and sexual.

One can only imagine what same gender weddings will do with such critical traditions as having the bride walk down the aisle on the arm of her father.  What becomes of the concept of ‘giving the bride away’ when there are two brides – or no brides?

Weddings are important.  In a unique way, even in the midst of all the antics and making sure the right nonsensical rituals happen, weddings do what nothing else can.  There is a meeting of past, present and future.

Even when words fail to express it fully or no one even acknowledges it is happening, the past is laid bare.  It isn’t necessarily a matter of having secrets to hide.  It is, I believe, more often a matter of being unsure how one’s past will be interpreted in the present.  So it is not uncommon to make light of what cannot be done over.  People joke, gaffe, pretend and exaggerate.  “What you see is what you get,” they tell their would-be partner.  “I am no less and no more than what you see and I want to build something new with you.”

That newness introduces the second half of what weddings or any other ceremony of commitment are about: the future.  To the extent there may have been potential embarrassment or hesitation about what happened before, there is now a clean slate – an open canvas.  With that comes the need to know as individuals and a couple, how daring their life together will be.

Here are two people who have the courage – or temerity – to say, “together, we can do better.”  From what sometimes seems like wildly disparate – and not uncommonly vastly poorly resourced – histories, “we  believe we will live life – if not better – than certainly different.  We today, together, are starting over.  A new day dawns.”

And with that pledge, the future opens a fresh page.  Regardless of what transpired before, this new page is – in the fullest fullness of the word – virgin.

To the extent the couple joins their hearts and souls and talents and beliefs with the divine, anything is possible.  There are too many variables to discuss here.  The important note now is that willingness to expose everything that has been with the dream and commitment to make all things better.

With that said, it is interesting the scripture notes Jesus going  to only one wedding.  His whole ministry was – and is – about letting go of the old and daring to pledge oneself to a new, intentional path of sacred relationship.  If the above description is at all a reflection of the (at least) potential profundity of marriage, mentioning it only once is understandable.

With his simple story of the good wine showing up at the unexpected time Jesus was saying, “The future – the new, unblemished future – happens now.  “Take the best wine – the best resources – which I can make available to you and go.  The best is in front of you.  The best is unimpeded by the past.  Come with me to venture into the future, empowered by the best.”

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