I should have changed for the wedding
Jeremiah 33:10-11 Good News Translation (GNT)
10 The Lord said, “People are saying that this place is like a desert, that it has no people or animals living in it. And they are right; the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem are empty; no people or animals live there. But in these places you will hear again 11 the shouts of gladness and joy and the happy sounds of wedding feasts. You will hear people sing as they bring thank offerings to my Temple; they will say,
‘Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, because he is good and his love is eternal.’
I will make this land as prosperous as it was before. I, the Lord, have spoken.”
1 John 3:1-3 Good News Translation (GNT)
3 See how much the Father has loved us! His love is so great that we are called God’s children—and so, in fact, we are. This is why the world does not know us: it has not known God. 2 My dear friends, we are now God’s children, but it is not yet clear what we shall become. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in Christ keeps himself pure, just as Christ is pure.
John 2:1-11 Good News Translation (GNT)
2 Two days later there was a wedding in the town of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine had given out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They are out of wine.”
4 “You must not tell me what to do,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
5 Jesus’ mother then told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 The Jews have rules about ritual washing, and for this purpose six stone water jars were there, each one large enough to hold between twenty and thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill these jars with water.” They filled them to the brim, 8 and then he told them, “Now draw some water out and take it to the man in charge of the feast.” They took him the water, 9 which now had turned into wine, and he tasted it. He did not know where this wine had come from (but, of course, the servants who had drawn out the water knew); so he called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone else serves the best wine first, and after the guests have drunk a lot, he serves the ordinary wine. But you have kept the best wine until now!”
11 Jesus performed this first miracle in Cana in Galilee; there he revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.
I should have changed for the wedding.
A short story by Harry Currie.
(This is a fictional story set in the first person)
My morning devotions that fateful morning included the serenity prayer. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
It wasn’t that I was an alcoholic, far from it. In fact, I hardly drank at all…maybe a couple of ciders throughout the year or a glass of champagne if I were at somebody’s wedding, which happened more than the average person, because I am a minister. But I didn’t know jack about alcohol really which was I suppose part of the problem, but we’ll get to that in due time.
I used the serenity prayer because it was a prayer I used when I was really stressed. And I was stressed. My daughter was getting married that day, which was stressful enough, but she had insisted on getting married in our backyard next to the pool. I had tried to urge her to use the church, after all we had just spent three hundred thousand dollars fixing up the pipe organ, and the church was beautiful. But she insisted, and of course, her mother supported her. “You are going to do what your princess wants,” she told me firmly in that “she who must be obeyed voice.” And it was all downhill from there.
Planning a wedding at your own home is like a chick flick on steroids. It is all woman stuff. Men are from Mars, weddings are from Venus. Any suggestions that I might have were totally met with a mix of condescension and disgust. “Dad, ooh, don’t even…” I am not sure that is even a sentence. My idea of fourty of fifty guests with barbequed hamburgers for supper…you know, simple, cost effective. “Dad, ooh, don’t even…”
I might as well have moved out of the house for all the input they wanted from me, although they kept me around, for I was handy as a beast of burden, a jack of all trades, a slave and servant. I was set to staining the fence, putting some new sod down where the dogs had done their business, pruning trees, painting the downstairs, cleaning the house, (I actually am I whiz with a vacuum.) and a whole host of other jobs, which included driving all over hell’s half-acre picking up all sorts of stuff like crepe paper and special plastic cutlery and dishes, that, you know, looked more like the real thing, cost three times as much as Walmart’s, and were just as disposable.
The other main job I had was to pay for it all. Wedding dress… a thousand dollars. Paint, stain, new sod…. A thousand dollars. Bar bill… a thousand dollars. Caterer…a thousand dollars. Performing the marriage ceremony for your daughter… priceless… which is just another way of saying your MasterCard should have no limit on it.
It was the day of the wedding and I was hoping it would be better than yesterday. Yesterday had not turned out so well because I got into it with the neighbour. I usually reserve my swearing for the golf course and anytime I hurt myself, like banging my thumb with a hammer, that sort of thing, which according to my wife, I do way too often, and my voice carries loudly and it really isn’t a good thing for ministers to be swearing so loudly that everyone on the street can hear. But I don’t usually swear at people. But I did yesterday at the neighbour.
The neighbour had not really liked us ever since we moved in. Too many kids and too many dogs. He was the one, I am sure of it who called the cops and complained about noise when our kids had a few friends over while my wife and I were on holidays last summer. And he was always complaining about our dogs, who, to tell the truth, loved to pee on the tires of his Hummer and his Cadillac. Mister Environmentally-friendly kept threatening to take them to the pound if he ever caught one of them doing that.
And of course yesterday was the day. The bull mastiff had escaped out the door that morning. If you don’t pull the door into the garage tightly enough she can just run right through it. Anyway, she disappeared that morning, and by the time we went to look for her she was gone. I spent a frantic hour looking for her. I mean I still had a list of things to do an arm long and I really didn’t have time to look for a dog. But finally we called animal rescue and she had been turned in. I went to pick her up as I did the booze run.
The booze run was to pick up all the alcohol needed for the wedding. That too was my job, although I don’t know why my boys weren’t given it. What do I know about alcohol? I was given a list of things to get. Wine for the tables, various sorts of hard liquor and lots of beer. It was mostly a younger crowd. We were now up to a hundred guests and climbing.
I put the back seat down in my old diesel Jetta, went to get the booze, calculating in my head that 100 people times three beer each, is roughly 300 drinks, divided by 24 is about 13 cases of beer. I picked up the booze and went to get the dog at the animal rescue. One hundred and fifty dollars later, the Bull Mastiff was drooling in the front seat of the car and we were on our way home.
As I was hauling cases of beer and wine out of my car, the neighbour appeared to gloat. I was putting the booze down next to the dozen cases of bottled water. We drank a lot of bottled water and sometimes when it was on sale I would buy a dozen cases, the neighbour piped up. “I told you to keep your effing dog away from my property. Serves you right.”
“It was you,” I said. That’s when I lost it and swore at him and caused a big scene, which brought my wife and daughter out of the house to see what the hell was going on. They hauled me into the house, telling me not to make a scene. “He started it.” I yelled.
I prayed for forgiveness, last night. I was truly sorry. Turning the cheek was the proper response, but the greenhouse gas giant was also a giant jerk and God help me, I couldn’t help myself for a second there.
So I was praying for a better day, and that I would be a changed man and keep my cool no matter what happened today.
And actually things did go a lot better, at least for a while. The caterer was hovering around bringing trays of this and that. The band was setting up outside. The weather was perfect. I had nightmares of rain. The girls had all gone to get their hair done and that would be all morning. My “to do” list was actually manageable. The rehearsal had gone well last night and everything was going along swimmingly, (bad choice of words as you will find out).
It was the hour of the wedding. I led the groom, the best man and the groomsmen out to the far end of the pool. The music started and out came the bridesmaids, Since I was the minister and the father of the bride, it was decided that the bride, my daughter would walk out alone.
She looked radiant. Just like a princess… My princess…. I started the service. “Dear friends, we are gathered here today…” Everything was going fine.
But I was to be tested
After the vows were repeated I held out my hand with the wedding service in it, so that the best man could put the wedding rings on it. And it has never happened before, but I dropped one of the rings, and it rolled into the pool.
“DAAAAADDDD!!!! My princess exclaimed.
I had botched it this time, and without thinking, trying to fix something which was a little out of control, I immediately started undressing to go and get it.
Before anyone could say anything I had my shirt and pants off and I was diving into the pool in just my fruit of the looms.
As I dove into the pool, I heard a lot of laughter.
It is amazing what the mind can do in a very short period of time. The time it took me to dive down to the bottom of the pool, reminded me that I had not changed my underwear. This morning when I had been dressing, my wife had told me that the underwear I had put on had a huge hole in the back of them, the size of an apple, and that I better change them. “You know how important it is to have good clean underwear. If you are ever in an accident…”
The family story that went with that line was that my wife’s Scottish grandmother had been hit by a bus and when they took her to hospital they thought she was a drunk or a bum or something like that, but the nurse pointed out that she a good clean underwear, so she was worth treating right away.
But I hadn’t changed my underwear. My fruit of the looms had an apple sized hole, and I was afraid that the crowd would see the whole bowl of fruit so to speak.
All this flashed through my mind as I found the ring and surfaced, gasping for breath.
I cannot tell you the look of my daughter’s and wife’s faces as I climbed out of the pool. Everybody else was laughing, but them. They were mortified.
In retrospect, we probably could have used a substitute ring, but it was too late now and nothing was said by the mortified. I was to receive the silent treatment for a while.
I went and changed and the service resumed without further incident
The reception started, the speeches were made. The dance began. I actually had hope that I was going to survive with only a flesh wound, but another crisis was imminent.
“We are out of beer,” the bartender. He wasn’t really a bartender, just one of my daughter’s friends.
“We are out of beer?” I gulped. It was ten o’clock and there was still another few hours to go for the reception.
The mortified decided to end their silent treatment and chirped in with: “Dad, we are out of beer.”
“Honey, we are out of beer.”
“Dad, you went all cheap on me and didn’t buy enough beer.’
“My wife added: “Honey, I told you to get enough beer.”
I was being tag-teamed and slammed to the mat. I mean, how much beer can people drink anyway? I guess a lot more than I thought.
“Daaad, do something.”
“Like what” I said, “Do you want me to change water into wine, like Jesus?” It was my sorry attempt at a joke and it was met with, “Dad, ooh, don’t even…”
My wife said: “Ok let’s calm down.” She turned to me. “Go on down to McKaskill’s pub. They have an after hours licence to sell beer. Go and get us a dozen cases of beer.
And dutifully, I turned and headed for the garage.
That’s when the miracle happened. When I went out into the garage, where I had the dozen or so cases of bottled water, there was not water. Instead there were a dozen cases of Pilsner. A dozen two-fours.
I stared at it. I know I didn’t buy this. And where is the water?
I know I am a minister. I know I believe in god, but I am not much for supernatural miracles. I tend to interpret the bible metaphorically.
But here were a dozen cases of been where there used to be a dozen cases of bottled water. “Praise the Lord.” I said.
I went and grabbed the bartenders to help me carry the beer into the backyard. I said to the one who had told me earlier that we were out of beer. “Do you know anything about this beer being here?”
“Well, now that you mention it some weird guy showed up and said that he had turned the water in the garage into beer, but I thought that he was just drinking too much.”
Well, the wedding was saved. Over the next few days I managed to make it out of the doghouse. My fruit of the looms ended in the garbage and that incident was now a laughing matter for all concerned including my wife and daughter.
The biggest talk was of the water that turned into beer. Was it really a miracle? There was no explanation. Nobody had bought the beer. Nobody knew anything about it. Where was the bottled water?
It was a bit of a dilemma for some of our evangelical friends with whom I had running arguments about the place of miracles today. They wanted to assert that it was a miracle and that God did miracles today, but to think that God would turn water into Pilsner was too much of a stretch even for them.
It was an unexplained mystery, an unexplained miracle.
I was kind of putting the wedding behind me, when a couple of weeks later as I was just starting to take the dogs for a walk, the next door neighbour came over. “How did the wedding go?”
“Fine,” I said politely but coolly. I was still mad at the Carbon Dioxide dope.
“That’s great” he said. “Listen, I really want to apologize for taking your dog to the animal rescue right when you were planning the wedding. I was such a big jerk. Really there is no excuse, so I hope my wedding gift helped make it up to you.”
“Your wedding gift??” I looked puzzled. I was puzzled. I didn’t remember any wedding gift.
“Yah, the dozen cases of Pilsner. I could see that day that you didn’t have enough beer and that you might run out, so during the wedding ceremony I brought in a dozen cases I had in my garage.”
“What about the water?” I queried
“Oh, I took that away and put it in my garage. It’s there whenever you want it. I thought it would be a kind of joke to tell the bartender that I changed the water into beer, so I hid the water to make it look that way. You being a minister and all, I thought you could claim a miracle. Seriously though, I am truly sorry about the dog.”
He reached out and took my hand and shook it. I looked into his eyes. He was all genuine. I felt like the jerk. After all, I am the minister, one who is supposed to forgive, to love my enemy and pray for those who mistreat me.
That night as I prayed I again thanked God for the miracle of the water turning into beer. It didn’t matter to me that there a natural explanation, it had still had been a miracle and had saved my bacon. But I also thanked God for the bigger miracle, greater than that of Jesus changing water into wine… An enemy had been changed into a friend.
I only hoped that I would change too… into a better person.