Love in the Time of Corona

NINTCHDBPICT000572147439

Not the couple in question, but it looked like this!

This morning I performed a wedding at our church.

Don’t worry, we observed all the rules for social distancing—well, with the exception of the bride and the groom! There were fewer people in the sanctuary for this wedding than there is on Sunday’s when we tape and live stream the worship service.

I had not met the bride and groom until this morning. That is pretty unusual for me. I would only agree to marry people I had not met with before only under special circumstances. But these were very special circumstances.

The bride is originally from Taiwan, but is now an American citizen, who resides in the Bay Area. Her fiancée flew over from Taiwan to marry his beloved. They plan to stay here after the wedding. They wanted to get married in San Francisco but coronavirus changed their plans. Soon after he got here, California shut down all clerk of court offices, which meant they could not get a marriage license. They had a limited amount of time to get married, or his visa would expire.

The closest place they could get a marriage license was Medford, Oregon. We were the closest church to the courthouse. So we got a call about two weeks ago, explaining the situation, and asking if I could perform the service.

These were truly special circumstances.

Normally I have several long conversations with couples before the wedding. We plan the services, I talk about their faith, and why they want a church wedding. We plan the service together. Not this time. I did find out that the groom was a Christian, and the bride was not, but she had no problem with a Christian wedding.

They came into the office this morning, having just gotten their license. She was dressed in a simple but elegant white wedding dress, and he had a formal suit. They were young, they were tired from driving up from the Bay Area, and they were in love.

Usually I ask the bride and groom to write their own wedding vows for the service. I did not have the opportunity to ask them, so during the service I explained about the vows, and told them they did not have to make up vows on the spot. But I did ask them to tell each other why they wanted to marry.

The groom spoke first. I did not understand what he said, because it was in Chinese, but through the word that came from behind his mask (yes, they both wore masks for the wedding!) I could feel his love for her. He cried as he strained the get the words out, and she was beaming as he spoke. Then she spoke, and they both cried with joy.

I was struck that their love overcame all the obstacles the coronavirus has set out for them. Here they were, in a strange city, in front of a stranger, wearing surgical masks, declaring their love in front of witnesses they had never met. But for them it was worth it. Their love broke all barriers. No doubt, if we had not been able to step in, they would have found another way. Love does that.

This came at a good time for me. I have been struggling with what it meant to be a pastor when there are barriers between you and the people. Two people have died, and we cannot do their funerals yet. Phone calls are good, but are no substitute for real interaction. Zoom is a poor substitute for real fellowship.

But this morning I was reminded how love always wins out in the end. And God’s great love for us will win out, and break through the barriers imposed by this virus.

In all this I was reminded of a song by Mark Heard (one of my favorite Christian song writers).

We gracefully age as we feel the weight

Of loving too late and leaving too soon

 

We can laugh and we can cry

And never see the strong hand of love hidden in the shadows

We can dance and we can sigh

And never see the strong hand of love hidden in the shadows

 

This morning, as I performed that wedding, I was able to see the strong hand of love come out of the shadows. The love these two young people had for each other is but a mere trace of God’s love for us. And God’s love will break through, overcoming every obstacle.

 

So I am able to rest a bit easier during our stay at home time. I am able to trust God more. I am better able to roll with whatever this virus hands us. Because I know that God and God’s love will overcome all.

 

 

About tmrichmond3

I am the pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Medford, Oregon. I believe that faith should be able to sustain us, not oppress us.
This entry was posted in COVID-19, Faith, Love, Marriage, Musings, Relationships, Uncategorized, Weddings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s