Last weekend I had the privilege of performing the wedding of my friend Joel and his new bride Danielle. It was an incredible day of celebration and one I won’t soon forget. It was an outdoor wedding at the beautiful Duke Gardens here in Durham. Everything was perfect – well, almost everything. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t get the memo and it rained the whole time.
Joel and Danielle were probably disappointed in that fact, but you never would have known it. They are quite easy going, and seemed to be focused more on each other than anything else going on – go figure! Despite the rain, the wedding was beautiful. And at one point during the ceremony, I stood to the side as music played and the couple shared a private moment. It was during that moment that I think God showed me something – and it moved me in a powerful way.
You see, the pastor in every wedding has the best seat in the house. He’s close to the couple, he’s often elevated, and he’s facing dozens of faces who are smiling, crying, laughing, and filled with hope and joy. Add to that the beauty of an outdoor wedding in a garden with a light rain falling – it was amazing. But one thing I saw struck me. Everywhere I looked there were umbrellas. Danielle’s dad walked her to the front carrying an umbrella. Moms and dads in the crowd held umbrellas over their kids. And couples huddled close together under umbrellas as well. Everyone present was under an umbrella in one way or another.
I couldn’t help but think of the chuppah. The chuppah is a covering in a Jewish marriage under which the couple stands. A sort of make shift tent. It’s symbolic of the holy presence of God hovering over the couple and covering them with His blessing. It calls us back to the Old Testament times when God’s presence was over His people as a cloud and led them wherever they were to go. In the Jewish wedding, what happens under the chuppah is sacred. It’s holy. It has God’s blessing all over it.
And here in the crowd were dozens of marriages. Dozens of families. Each huddled together under an umbrella. Each one providing a picture of the presence of God hovering over and bringing blessing. Some of those marriages were brand new. Others had been going for a while. Some were struggling, no doubt. Others, maybe flourishing. And yet for that moment, it’s as if time stood still. In that moment we stood under the covering and blessing of God and declared together God’s blessing over this new couple.
May we all find ourselves under an umbrella so great that no matter how hard it rains – we rest comfortably in the reality of God’s presence and covering over our lives. And may you seek the shelter of the One who loves you most.