I got to play wedding planner as we cleared out our living room, decorated the fireplace and brought in chairs. As I worked with this 79 year old who had been a widow for over 25 years, I tried to find out what she wanted in this memorable occasion. Q... Did she want flowers? *no, keep it simple. Q... what about just a couple flowers, something to hold so that your not just standing with fidgety hands? *yes, that would be fine, but keep it small. Q... what was the one thing not in your first wedding that you would like in this one? *well, the church wasn't even finished, so ... well, can we have a cake? I don't want no big fancy thing though. Just something small. I just want a simple wedding, everything simple. Just our kids and their families.
My husband was to do the wedding, we knew the bride really well and the groom had become a friend really quick. Several phone calls and messages made it clear that they both wanted to honor their prior spouse by using their same wedding rings as before. Throughout all the planning, they wanted to be very respectful to their children and their feelings.
So... without further ado... let me share the ceremony and photos with you.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the sight of God, friends and
family to unite this couple Robert Ervin Walker and Mary Francis Proctor in the bonds of holy matrimony.
Robert and Mary, I do not believe that it was an accident that you met and fell in love. I sincerely believe that this is God’s plan and that you are honoring him in your commitment to each other. I believe you will be blessing to others and to each other. I pray that we who are here will love and support you the way you have unconditionally loved us. Anyone who has been around Robert and Mary can recognize how deeply in love they are with each other. They are both secure enough in that love to talk and fondly remember their former spouses Janice and Bill to each other. Robert and Mary have asked me to take a moment and recognize how God had blessed both of them with loving, godly spouses who have gone on to be with the Lord. Robert was married to Janice for 56 years. Mary was married to Bill for almost 34 years. Both of these marriages were based on a love for each other and the Lord. A marriage based on the Lord has a strong foundation. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (NIV) Robert and Mary understand that the Lord is the strand, the common bond that will hold them together. Their love for each other, and their life circumstances, reminds me of a love story found in the Bible in the Book of Ruth. It is a love story that Robert and Mary are both familiar with. It is a story that starts with the loss of a spouse and ends with a wedding. It begins with a focus on a mother in law named Naomi who has lost her husband, and her sons and longs to go home to the land of her birth. She advises her daughter in laws, who are also widowed, to stay behind. It is the story of Ruth, her widowed daughter in law, who would not stay behind but who followed and remained devoted to her mother in law, Naomi, even after the death of her spouse. It is also the story of a man named Boaz, an unmarried relative of Naomi's. Naomi, will in time play matchmaker and set a series of events in motion that with God’s help lead to the marriage of Ruth and Boaz. Today, I am reminded of another mother in law and in this case a widowed man that is still devoted to her. That same mother in law was used by God to start a chain of events that have led us here today. Robert, your commitment and love for your mother in law speaks volumes about you. Mary recognizes the kind of man you are and will be to her. And so do we. Now Ruth could have stayed in her own land and remarried but she chose to go with Naomi. In doing this, Ruth choose to remain single. When Ruth got settled in this new land she did not hurriedly seek out a mate but waited focusing on the needs of Naomi. Until Naomi intervened. Mary, you have been a widow for 26 years. You could have chosen to seek out someone years ago but you waited. I believe you waited for the right man and the right season. Robert knows what kind of woman you are because you have waited and have lived your life in service to family and others. Today both of you take a bold step into your new life together. Robert and Mary, if you will turn and face each other and repeat your vows to each other at this time.
I , (name), take you, (name), to be my wedded (wife/husband), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer for poor, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part. And here I pledge you my faithfulness. Robert and Mary have chosen to use their same rings from their previous marriages. They are using them to as a reminder of what has come before, how God had blessed and how they again recognize that Lord is the constant unchanging center of this covenant to each other. Rings May we have the rings? Would you two join hands now?
Nelda Turner (bride's daughter), Mary Proctor (bride), Darrell Proctor (my hubby, oh, did I mention that the Bride is his Mother, yes... my Mother-in-Love!!!), Robert Walker (groom), Johnny Walker (groom's son)
Robert, please repeat after me – Mary, With this ring, I thee wed, and with it, I pledge my heart and my devotion. You may place the ring upon her finger. Mary, please repeat after me – Robert, With this ring, I thee wed, and with it, I pledge my heart and my devotion. You may place the ring upon his finger. The Kiss In recognition of your commitment to each other, by the power vested in me by the state of Texas, and the Almighty God we love and serve, I now pronounce you man and wife. Robert, you may kiss your bride. Mary you may kiss your husband. The Pronouncement It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you for the very first time Robert and Mary Proctor Walker. And all God’s people said – Amen.
And... so now... these six months later?
They lived happily ever after.