A Long, Long Time Ago…

in what seems like a galaxy far, far, away…

Yes, it’s been 45 years ago tonight since Janet and I were at our rehearsal dinner after having spent the late afternoon at Trinity Methodist Church with our bridal party and parents. We were going through the planning for our wedding ceremony to be performed the next night by Dr. Stephen Liddicoat and Rev. Ross Sweeney, the former and current Senior Ministers of the church. Both Janet and I had grown up in Trinity with many of our friends from grammar school. In fact, I met Janet in that church, in an upstairs hallway, when we were less than six years old.

We were both active in IYF and MYF, Methodist groups for teens, and at various times throughout our childhood we were both in church choirs under the direction of Max Wilson, a robust man who had a beautiful voice and loved kids. We were both baptized and confirmed in that church and our parents attended adult Sunday School together for years in the Open Hearth Class. In fact, our parents became best friends. So as you can see, it was more than a wedding venue for us – it was an extension of our homes and the community that we grew up with.

In fact, my mother and father were married at Trinity in 1948 and the church held a very special place in our hearts. All this ran through my mind as we conducted the rehearsal getting ready for the vows that we would exchange the next day, Friday August 24, 1973. Just like this year, the date landed on a Friday and I remember it like it was yesterday.

Back then, neither Janet nor I considered what life would look like 45 years down the road. And if we had been able to dream our wildest dreams, there is no way that our imaginations could have come close to the reality of love and joy that we have had together. We have three great children and four grandsons. We were surrounded by loved ones that day and the only sad part of our memory includes the fact that all of our grandparents and parents are gone now – making us the eldest generation and the keeper of the faith for the younger generations.

As I look back over the decades, it seems like we have not only travelled through time and space, but we have arrived at a place that is better than we could have anticipated. Back then, we were just starting out, barely 20 years old, and naive about careers, buying a home, having a family and being responsible for things like retirement savings. Now, as my career is nearing its end, and we have successfully navigated the various stages of our family life together, at least so far, we are about to embark on the best chapter yet.

Janet and I still love to spend time together and prefer each other’s company to anything else we could possibly do. We are home bodies and nothing rings quite as true as an evening together enjoying the simple things. Television, conversation, planning a family dinner or a trip to the Greenbrier, the place we consider our second home.

No big parties, no loud shouting from the rooftops, just quiet, respectful, joyful love. And growing old together. In retrospect, I don’t think that we thought about some of the physical challenges we have had, but that comes with the territory and, frankly, things, with rare exception, have been pretty good. Of course, we have been to the top of the mountain on occasion and even down in the valley from time to time.

We have seen our faith grow exponentially and we have passed those foundational values on to our children and grandchildren. We are active in the church and we recognize God as the source of our blessings. God willing, we will still have many years, make that decades, together and we can hardly wait to see how the next season unfolds.

Our verse for tonight is one that is familiar to every one of us. It comes from Genesis 2:23-24, “The man said, “This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

My encouragement this evening is that God loves it when a man and a woman find each other and decide to spend their lives together, bound together in holy wedlock. My prayer is that when our younger people get married that they will be as committed to one another as they can possibly be. After all, God wants us to stay together and invest in our marriages. Nobody said this was easy – and it requires constant work. But sometimes, things just don’t work out and I understand that. Janet and I are fortunate to have that kind of “forever” love that transcends time and space. How blessed we are. Happy Anniversary, my love! And to the rest of you, have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

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