This past week, just a few days before the end of Advent and a few days before the arrival of Christmas I was as startled as Elizabeth, the elder cousin of Mary, was startled when Mary who was “a little bit pregnant” with Jesus, came to visit. Elizabeth was 6 months into her own pregnancy, hunkering down for the last weeks with a silent husband beside her. When Mary came knocking on Elizabeth’s door, the elder cousin cried out “Why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me!” Why me? Why now?
With this story lingering in the back of my mind I was happily engaged in the last minute preparations for our Christmas Eve service. Then came a knock on my door and in came a young couple. They came to see me, the elder minister, to talk about some concern that I was able to easily address. As we were about to wrap up our talk, the young woman hesitantly asked if I perform weddings. Startled, I said that yes, for sure, I perform weddings. Were they interested at some time, way down the road, in getting married?
Who am I? Why has this happened to me, that this young couple who I do not know well, who does not know me hardly at all, is asking me to officiate their wedding? Why me?
The details spilled out. Their desire to be married soon. Before the young man headed out to Marine training and who knows what else. Before the “little bit pregnant” young woman was showing. Before whatever was coming down the road met them, without a mooring or a ring to remind them about who they belonged to and what they mean to each other.
It was hard to brush aside the sense that there was an angel in the room announcing something that I at least was not ready to hear. But of course, as always, angels in stories like this demand answers. I said yes. Then I sent the couple home to talk together about their vows. I sent them a personal note later in the day and gave them wide berth to change their minds. Maybe they really did not want me, the queer pastor of this church, to be the one to bind them together.
A day later they got back to me, determined that yes they were ready to get married. Yes they wanted me to officiate. Yes. Yes. Yes. Before the week was over we gathered again at the church. A small group of witnesses were there to remind us of the promises made. Many pictures were taken, as this is, after all, the social media age. Blessings were bestowed. Prayers were said. Tears shed. Laughter too; at the audacity of it all.
“Why has this happened” will be asked again, by all of us, because that is one of life’s short and constant questions. All that we will be able to say is that we were told to not be afraid and to let Love lead the way. Here we are, caught up in love and hope.