Unto me

The News (New Glasgow) - - FAITH & COMMUNITY - Faith for To­day Doug Pilsworth Doug Pilsworth is a re­tired min­is­ter and con­trib­u­tor to Faith for To­day.

It’s wed­ding sea­son! When­ever I per­formed a wed­ding, I al­ways con­ducted a wed­ding prepa­ra­tion course with the cou­ple.

Ner­vously, they sat be­fore me. Af­ter in­tro­duc­tions, I would say, “Now, the first ques­tion is the most im­por­tant ques­tion that I will ask you in these ses­sions.” Rapt at­ten­tion greeted me. I be­gan, “At your re­cep­tion, will you be serv­ing a cold plate or a hot plate?”

Con­fused looks were ex­changed. I con­tin­ued, “If it’s a cold plate then I have a 35-minute grace I say. If it is a hot plate, then I do only about one minute.”

For the first time in their lives, agree­ment flowed, “Oh, we’re hav­ing a hot plate!” I got more hot meals that way.

The job of the Min­is­ter is to per­form the wed­ding and say grace at the din­ner. At one din­ner, I was seated at the back, by the kitchen. The mi­cro­phone, through which I would of­fer grace, was way up at the front and the ta­bles were so tightly packed that there was no way I’d be able to get there. I sug­gested we all become a mosh pit and trans­port me over­head to the front, but af­ter look­ing at my girth, they talked me out of it.

I said the grace rather loudly and then re­minded those in at­ten­dance about Scrip­ture. When the waiters and wait­resses were ready to serve the meal, they should re­mem­ber that the last shall be first and the first last. I was at the last ta­ble. It didn’t work! The head ta­ble was served first.

Je­sus loved go­ing to wed­dings. His first mir­a­cle hap­pened at a wed­ding. When I trav­elled through the Holy Land, we vis­ited Canaan. There, we en­tered a church, whose al­tar was framed by six large wa­ter jugs, just like the ones Je­sus used in his first mir­a­cle of turn­ing wa­ter into wine.

For those now plan­ning a wed­ding, you think you have a lot to pre­pare for! In Je­sus’s time, wed­dings of­ten took seven days, some­times more. The groom would travel, in the evening, through the streets to his bride’s home. Guests would line the route with oil lamps. Re­mem­ber the story of the women who ran out of oil? Also, that chil­dren’s hymn, “Give Me Oil in My Lamp” prob­a­bly came out of this tra­di­tion.

The story of the wed­ding at Canaan holds a catas­tro­phe. They’ve run out of wine. Panic fil­tered through the crowd. Je­sus calls the ser­vants to fill wa­ter jugs and mirac­u­lously wine comes out. Even the wine stew­ard is gob­s­macked. Ev­ery­one looked with amaze­ment at Je­sus.

In the July 17 edi­tion of this news­pa­per, the story is told of an­other wed­ding that met with cat­a­strophic end­ings. No, they didn’t run out of wine. Some­thing even worse!

A week be­fore the wed­ding, the bride and groom called off the wed­ding. Ev­ery­thing had been paid for: the church had been booked; the min­is­ter was ready for his hot plate; the re­cep­tion was ready to go and there were 170 guests wait­ing, anx­iously. What a disas­ter.

But, the cou­ple looked to Je­sus and went out and, in­stead, called in the home­less and the poor. Lo­cal busi­nesses gave wed­ding clothes for them to wear. A feast was had. They had turned a disas­ter into a cel­e­bra­tion, as did Je­sus.

How can you turn a neg­a­tive sit­u­a­tion into a pos­i­tive one? Re­mem­ber what Je­sus said, “When you’ve done it to the least of these my friends, you’ve done it unto me.” Look to Je­sus and you will find new hope for any cir­cum­stance you en­counter. God bless you all.

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