I’ve done a handful of weddings and vow renewals so far in my years as a pastor. I once did a vow renewal for a couple’s 25th wedding anniversary, which we found out later it was actually only their 24th! So, we celebrated 24 great years instead of 25. I’ve gotten to do the weddings of some of my best friends, and even a couple of my former middle school students! In just a few weeks I’ll be performing my sister’s wedding, back in New Mexico! Weddings are always a blast to be a part of – it’s such an exciting day.
Last weekend at Awaken, I was a part of a very unique wedding: Eric & Liz Rejrat. I shared a bit of their story yesterday on my blog, so if you didn’t get to read that, you should – it will shed a whole new light on the wedding.
What I loved about this wedding was that it wasn’t just another event – the people of Awaken saw a need and an opportunity to minister to people, and they jumped at it. When Jenn and I sat down with Eric and Liz and talked about a wedding and what they’d need, my wife immediately went into wedding coordinator mode. Emails, phone calls, and texts went out to inform people of the need and how they could help.
The wedding went fantastic, of course. We had people show up at the church to help decorate for hours on Friday night before the rehearsal. Jenn ran the rehearsal that night, then we headed home, excited for the big day. Saturday morning rolled around, and although the wedding didn’t start till 2pm, people from Awaken were there a few hours early doing last-minute setup, cleaning, and food preparation. Lots of people who weren’t able to make it to the wedding dropped off dishes of food for the reception. We found out 15 minutes before the ceremony was supposed to start that Eric had forgotten the iPod at home, which had the 4 songs we needed for the ceremony. Never fear – Nate, our sound technician, and his trusty iPhone came to the rescue. He downloaded them and we were ready to go. 2 people from Awaken also volunteered their time and talent as the wedding photographers, so right after the ceremony, we headed to a nearby park for wedding pictures.
As I stood with Liz’s dad in the park toward the end of the photo shoot, I got a glimpse of ministry that was happening that I hadn’t even been aware of. I could see a few tears well up in his eyes as he thanked me for how the church had come together to help them with the wedding. He’s from Michigan, and he told me, “Churches in Michigan don’t behave this way. I’ve never seen anything like it.” He was unable to describe his thankfulness for the way the church rallied around Eric & Liz. I realized right then that the wedding had not only been a great way to meet some needs for Eric & Liz, but also to minister to their family. Many of their family members flew in for the wedding, but none of them know the Lord. I realized that although our focus had been on planning a wedding, we had also shared the Gospel with people by showing them what unity looked like.
In John 17:21, Jesus prays for the unity of all future believers (that includes us). He specifically says that if we will be united, the world will believe in Jesus. God can use our unity to help others believe in His identity! Incredible!
I love the people of Awaken Church and their heart to meet needs, but I was extra proud to be a part of that wedding and the seeds that were planted in hearts that day. It’s amazing what God can do when people selflessly meet needs and reach out to others!