The Chapel of Love

The one thing I love most about my church is how random it is.  It is a gathering of a bunch of misfits for Christ, and with the Holy Spirit blowing through, you never quite know what’s going to happen next.

Sometimes I feel bad for people who attend “normal” services with a dress codes and decorum; the ones who take a sanitized mission trip for 2 days out of the year with the youth.  Or the ones that have Sunday School which covers safe biblical topics and the correct answer is always Jesus.  It’s the churches who build giant buildings and with theatrical lighting and sound systems which rival that of my college: I want none of that, it’s not part of the gospel.  Life is messy and they’re missing out on the “get your hands dirty” message Jesus preached of relationships with others.  Our church does a lot of crazy, unconventional things in the name of Jesus and I could not be more proud.

Case and point: Sunday morning.

At the beginning of the service, our pastor announced there was going to be a wedding afterwards and to stick around for it.  It was for a couple who had done pre-marital counseling with our pastor.  They were in their mid-40’s or so, and while they weren’t homeless, they lived far below the poverty level.  The wedding was scheduled to take place several weeks ago, but it kept getting delayed for unknown reasons.  Today was the day.  We meet in a small room, so you always see what’s going on: the bride walked out of the bathroom in a big white wedding dress that looked like it popped out of the early 1990’s.

I should also mention this was during the sermon.

This wasn’t a typical bride:  her hair was down, unstyled, unwashed, with no make up.  She wore a Dollar Store-esque tiara on her head and her dress wasn’t ironed.  There was a stain on the back bow – and her dress wasn’t zipped up all the way.  I was hoping someone else was helping her and maybe she was just waiting to zip it so she could breathe.  She passed by me a couple of times, as I was near the back.  Finally, once I realized she didn’t have help, I jumped up and asked if she needed help zipping her dress. “The zipper won’t go up anymore,” she whispered.  “Let’s try,” I said, as I pulled the dress together and tried with all my might to zip it.  The dress was too small for her rib cage, but I didn’t give up until I took the skin off my index finger, attempting to make that zipper move.

The sermon was still going on, by the way.  I’m sure we were quite the spectacle.

Nobody had a safety pin, as another lady sent out a text to the ladies in the congregation (I learned this later).  I tucked in the sides of her dress that were unzipped so the back of it looked like a V.  Later, her train was in the way while we walked up for communion, so another woman and I tried to figure out her bustle situation.

Yes, this was in the line for communion.  We totally held it up.

We found the loops she could put over her fingers and we carried on, and she thanked me for my help.  Moments later, the bridal couple walked up to the alter and exchanged vows and rings.  I captured a few pictures on my phone.

I’ve never met this woman.  I’m as shy as they come and I’m usually the one hiding under my chair when the pastor tells everyone to stand up and shake hands with everyone.  But there was something about this bride that made my heart leap out to her.  Most wedding days are stressful, long-planned out events and everything has to be just so – surrounded by family and friends.  This was not the case at all here. I counted 2 friends and no family. It was all so random.  And beautiful.  A husband a wife started the long journey of marriage today.

That’s what I love about my church – there’s so much room for the Holy Spirit – sometimes you’re a walk-on bridesmaid for a stranger.  Those without homes are welcomed with open arms, complete with coffee and breakfast.  White, black, or a combination thereof walk through our doors.  There’s always someone there to one-up me on the awkward/weirdness scale.  This is what Jesus calls us to do: to come along side others, especially those who are less fortunate, and go through life side by side as equals, as friends.

I didn’t get a chance to congratulate the newlyweds.  The bride disappeared back into the bathroom again after the ceremony and I had along list of Christmas shopping to finish, as the family Christmas party is next weekend.  As I left, the pastor thanked me for helping the bride.

I’m still giggling about it.  It’s absolutely nuts!  Never in a millions years did I expect to be a bridesmaid at church for someone I never met!  But that’s exactly how the Lord works!

I am so proud to be His daughter and am looking forward to the next adventure with the Holy Spirit.

And here’s to the new Mr. & Mrs!  May their marriage honor the Lord and may their union be strengthened with each passing year!

 

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