My wedding day was the best day of my life thus far. I have heard so many wedding horror stories, and have even witnessed weddings in which the bride and groom are stressed out, strung out, and ready for the whole celebration to be over, so they can get back to their normal routines. Our wedding was the opposite. It lasted about 5 days, and every moment was way better than we ever could have hoped.
A few months before the wedding, someone imparted this rather macabre wisdom to me. She said, “the only moments in your life that everyone you love will show up for you at the same time will be your wedding and your funeral. So enjoy this one.” I know, it’s pretty dark. But in a strange way, I took it as an encouragement to soak in each moment of my wedding week.
The Bible contains so much wedding imagery, which made a lot more sense to me after my wedding day. The wedding day I enjoyed was the closest I had felt to experiencing heaven — the elation of proclaiming my love for my husband in front of God, while surrounded by every person who has helped shape who my husband and I are, and who led us to where we were in that moment. It felt holy and sacred and the closest to the renewed world God ultimately promises us.
As I read Luke this week I found another instance of wedding imagery that also contained a directive that I think most of us can appreciate. Verses 7 through 11 state, “Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, ‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.'”
Jesus uses wedding imagery to discuss the joy and honor of humility. I think this is why I love weddings so much, and was able to appreciate my wedding day as much as I did. Weddings are a time for us to witness and celebrate the love of two other individuals. Most of us would never dream of making someone else’s wedding day about ourselves — instead, we take a posture of servitude, lifting up the bride and groom and caring for them in a variety of ways. From blessing them with gifts for their home, to picking up flowers and cupcakes, to holding the bride’s dress so it stays beautiful and spotless. We love to honor others, and the bride and groom, for that one day, get to receive the celebration of those who love them the most.
In the biblical text, Jesus insists that we take that lowest of places at an honoring event such as a wedding, so that we may then be asked to take a higher place by the host. Isn’t that a posture we can take every day, though? Humbling ourselves, serving others, looking out for their needs, and trusting that one day we will experience the honor and love that we continue to give as well. So may we experience life today as a wedding banquet, lifting up those around us, treating each moment as a time for solidarity, and recognizing the love and honor in our midst.