The Good Stuff

The Good Stuff

January 20, 2019 | Ryan Arnold

Passage: Luke 3:15-17

Weddings are accidents waiting to happen. Despite our best efforts at planning the big day, something, it seems, almost always goes wrong. On what many consider the most important moment of their lives.

To delve into this wedding calamities hypothesis further I asked Facebook friends – including many of you – to share their most memorable snafu stories from their own special days.

Responses from this calamities query came pouring in, 26 people openly told their tales of what wasn’t quite right at their wedding. Some have a certain wow factor, others are downright funny. Here’s a short selection.

Sometimes wedding day accidents happen before the service even begins.

Friend Heather remembers waking up the morning of her wedding with one bridesmaid covered in hives. And another bridesmaid unexpectedly needed to take her boyfriend to the ER. With the help of some Benadryl the hives went away, but she still needed to find a new bridesmaid. Amazingly one of her good friends was attending the wedding stag, fit in the dress just fine. She made for a great last-minute replacement.

At Rich’s wedding the two limos left the bride-to-be’s house at the same time. And each thought the other car had the bride and her dad. When the limos arrived at church they realized their mistake. A classic case of being left behind.

Priscilla, an occasional church organist, recalls a wedding she once played for. Right before the wedding she found the bride, in the Pastor’s office, drink orange soda, smoking. When Priscilla asked if it’d be ok to start the prelude with a some Handel and a bit of Bach, the bride waved her hand over the exhaled smoke and said yeah, go for it, that’s cool.

Now that’s what I call a smoking bride.

Other times the wedding drama happens in the service itself.

Seminary friend Kari Lee remembers kneeling at the altar, alongside her husband, as a friend sang the Lord’s Prayer. As he sings “thy will be done” a huge clap of thunder hits, rattling the church windows. Kari says it was pretty intense. And that everyone there laughed. If that were me that night I’d be locking the doors extra tight.

Linda, our church Database Coordinator, recalls that half the people at her sister’s wedding had the stomach flu – including the groom. Things got so bad the groom had to run out in the middle of the ceremony to take care of business. That was an accident waiting to happen the groom was happy that didn’t!

Then there’s Dan and Diane Hinderaker who gave communion to everyone there, but themselves. No worries, you two, I forget that part all the time too.

Chew on this one – both of your pastors here, Bryan and I, had difficulty getting our unity candles to light during our weddings. That’s where both bride and groom light separate candles, and then lean into light one, larger unity candle, symbolizing how the two become one. Mine and Kathi’s lit after a few minutes, Bryan and Trish’s never did. Make of that what you will. Tho by all accounts both our marriages seem to be going just fine.

Some wedding accidents happen after the service while driving to the reception.

Friends Jeff and Jen pulled off the road to take the balloons and streamers off of their car. Which makes it a lot easier to see while driving. But while doing that Jen’s grandmother’s wedding ring fell off, and she didn’t realize it until arriving at the reception. Jen was hysterical at the thought of losing a family heirloom. So Jeff hurriedly drove back to look for it, some friends drove by and they too offered to help search. The ring was found, to their great relief, in the parking lot, hours later at 10:30pm.

Lisa Ailshie, our Communications Manager, got married at St. Cecelia, which is right down the road. She recalls leaving the church only to be greeted by the sight of a car on fire in the parking lot. Imagine. After things settled down some they drove to their reception, leaving behind firetrucks and flames. What an exit!

Kirsten tells a similar story. She and husband Peter had rented an early 1900s Model T to take them from the ceremony to the reception, a really cool touch. It was cool until the almost century-old vehicle caught on fire. She thought everyone was waving because they were so happy for the newlyweds. Nope – they were trying to alert them about the smoke.

All of which makes me wonder if, for weddings, perhaps we should just revert back to a good old horse and carriage.

And of course many of the most memorable accidents and oopsies occur at the reception.

Angela arrived at her reception venue only to find the DJ wasn’t there. Quickly a new plan was hatched. The pastor officiating the wedding stepped in to MC. The hotel loaned their sound system. Guests loaned their laptops and iPods and scrambled to put some tunes together. No one had the wedding song on their devices so a hotel employee went to buy the CD. What began as a big problem ended up pretty well.

Even when your DJ does show, sometimes they screw up and introduce the couple using the wrong names. “Let’s make some noise for the new Mr. and Mrs. Smith: Riku and Valerie” is pretty funny then the bride’s name is Veronica. Especially when her sister, who was there, is named Valerie. Oops!

Or maybe you can relate to Lori Woodcock. She got up to go to the bathroom and her sister ate her piece of cake. On top of that the cake was cut wrong so there wasn’t any left. She didn’t get any of the cake at her own wedding! Ask her about it some time, from what I gather it still makes her blood boil.

I’ve got one more wedding story accident; it’s from John 2:1-11.

Here we find Jesus, his mother, and the disciples at a wedding reception. Wedding celebrations in those days were a huge community event. So big they were measured not in hours but in days. Seven days to be precise. Imagine all the planning and coordination it would take to pull *that* event off well.

Yet despite all the planning, go figure, something here too went wrong.

Three days in, to a seven-day party, the wine suddenly runs out.

Unlike our modern times, you couldn’t just send someone down to the local Cyclone Liquors to get more.

How short were they? There were six empty jars there, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. That adds up to somewhere between 120 and 180 gallons of wine, or up to 1,000 bottles. Good luck sourcing that much in a pinch.

Perhaps this oversight was a sign someone dropped the ball. Perhaps it was a sign the party was over. Perhaps it was time to head home.

And perhaps there would be some shame, for the family that planned this wedding. The guests there just might talk about the reception that got cut short for years and years to come. Perhaps.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, saw these impending possibilities, and asked her son to take action. Jesus, whose ministry hadn’t yet begun, initially defers. But mom presses on, asking the servants there to do whatever he tells them. It’s mother Mary, pushing her son out of the nest, knowing that it’s time for her son’s ministry to take flight.

Jesus then directs the servants to fill those empty jars with water. He then does his thing with that water, miraculously turning it to wine.

Accident averted. Celebrations continue.

But there’s more to this story. The wine steward, or sommelier comes over to taste the wine. That’s their job, they’re the experts. They taste to ensure it is good enough for the particular occasion at hand.

After tasting this newly made wine the sommelier makes a discovery. Not only is the wine acceptable, but it’s the good stuff. Normally the good wine is served first, with the meh wine to follow. But that’s not how Jesus operates. With Jesus you always get the best.

This scripture passage is just one more example of that.

Scripture is pretty clear about the ills of drunkenness, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. In our modern era, over time, this can evolve into the disease of alcoholism. This disease is common, impacting more than three million people a year in the US alone. It’s safe to conclude most everyone here has a close friend, family member or loved one that is affected.

Yet scripture is filled with stories of wine being used in healthy, joy-filled, sacred celebrations. Wine was a central part of many community gatherings in scriptural times. And it continues to be a part of many of our gatherings today. Before Jesus made the lame walk, or the blind see, or raised the dead, his first recorded miracle, in the book of John, is this one. Of turning water into wine.

And each week here we commemorate the Lord’s supper, eating of bread, drinking of the wine. In that we celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

We live in this tension, of sorts, holding the ills of alcohol in one hand, and the communal benefits, and the celebrations it is connected to, in the other.

All this leads me to conclude that the John text really isn’t about the wine. It’s about Jesus’s role in turning individual accidents, shame, judgment, and conflict, into communal joy.

• It’s about making sure Angela’s wedding had a DJ after all, so that sacred party could continue.
• It’s about Lori getting that piece of wedding cake on her big day, making sure everyone gathered there has enough to eat.
• It’s about lost wedding rings being found.
• It’s about car fires being extinguished.
• And it’s about encouraging the unity, of two people, being joined together in holy matrimony, whether those big unity candles get lit or not.

Just like a wedding celebration, life, too, is an accident waiting to happen. Despite our best efforts at planning for our careers, our finances, our families, something, it seems, almost always goes wrong.

In those moments let us remember that our Lord once attended a wedding feast. And, in performing a great miracle there, He said yes, to gladness. Yes, to joy.

God does not want our religion to be too holy to be happy in.

So let us take a cue from Christ, allowing ourselves to be filled with joy.

Let us sing, and dance, and be merry, right alongside God’s children.

Then let us raise a glass of the good stuff.

And let us toast. Let us toast a Savior who provides, and wants nothing less than the very best, for us all. Cheers, my friends.  Amen.