A wedding gift

A Christian Science perspective.

Although I’ve never been married, I’ve attended lots of weddings. I find them inspiring and full of unexpected delights. At first, I always knew either the groom, the bride, or both. But in the last few years, as marriage has come to the tier of second cousins, I’ve been invited by people with whom I’ve often had no other contact than that someone remembered me.

In preparing for the 300-mile drive to attend one such wedding, I asked myself what I could bring to it besides the gift, which I’d already chosen online, and my physical presence. How could I offer something deeper and longer lasting to this event, despite my nonacquaintance with most of the people there?

Clearly, I wanted to honor the step this young couple was taking – to unite in marriage as a symbol of dedication to each other, their families, and to God. In essence, they were making a spiritual commitment to honor each other.

Such commitments can demand a great deal of the couple and of their families, and Mary Baker Eddy’s book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” includes a whole chapter on marriage. It’s filled with wonderful insights not only about marriage but also about relationships in general. In that chapter she wrote, “The scientific morale of marriage is spiritual unity” (p. 61) and reinforced that point a couple of pages later by writing, “Marriage should signify a union of hearts” (p. 64).

I pondered that concept of unity as I drove along, thinking of the love and desire for good that bring a couple together in marriage, and how that can unify two families or more, depending on the relationships. And as children arrive, their friendships become ways that more families can unite in caring for and about each other and their communities.

Ultimately, the real source of that unity is God, the one Mind or divine Love. As the idea of Mind, each is wholly spiritual, embraced, provisioned, and guided by Love. In my prayer, I claimed for this couple and the whole wedding that the intelligence of Mind would direct every detail, including harmony and safety for all the participants. I also recognized that infinite Love’s unifying power was already present and overflowing, smoothing out any rough edges, providing strength and joy, removing fears and doubts.

I thought, too, about the road ahead for the bride and groom, and the challenges they might face. Difficulties could come in various forms – bad decisions about finances, faithfulness, friendships, among them. In the midst of such dangers, it isn’t always easy to make good choices. Human will, fear, and confusion could darken the road ahead.

But the Bible provides a sure guide through all troubles, if we are willing to take it. In John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine” (10:14). The good shepherd is still here, as Christ, the spiritual, healing presence of God’s love, which Jesus presented to his followers. This good shepherd offers strength in time of trouble, endurance, courage, peace, joy, and love. Christ includes tender mercy and a humble spirit that’s willing to hear God’s voice.

Jesus’ promise that Christ “is known” and knowable by those who turn to God for guidance and help is a powerful truth. It assured me that the bride and groom would have the spiritual support to make their marriage strong.

When I arrived at the church, expecting to be just a “hanger on” around the edges, I was surprised to be greeted by a young relative who took me around making introductions. After I’d settled into a pew, to continue my prayer, I found that the organist was playing one of my favorite organ compositions, J.S. Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” and later, at the reception I was made to feel totally a part of the family. The drive back home was filled with happy memories.

Later on, I realized that the spiritual gift I had endeavored to bring to the wedding had been big enough so that I also had been blessed by it.

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