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The Wedding of Jamisen Danielle Reynolds and Michael Richard Dalland

The Wedding of Jamisen Danielle Reynolds and Michael Richard Dalland

January 19, 2013, Five O'clock - First United Methodist Church, Coxsackie, New York

    Public TV years ago did a feature on Howard Castle in England. Understandably, I was curious.  The castle was the site chosen for the filming of Evelyn Waugh's novel, Brideshead Revisited. I, again understandably (considering how I've spent the past sixty years), was interested, particularly in the chapel on the castle grounds.  My ancestors may have been the gardeners; but whimsy and fantasy prompted me to think myself the chaplain... a reverie I quickly  dismissed in the sober consideration of what a bore and what a chore it must have been to devote ones entire ministrations to the inhabitants of an estate, even if they were as fascinating as those to be seen in the present moment's TV rage, Downton Abbey.

      I have, however, in actuality, been carrying on a long distance and longtime chaplaincy for a certain family whose estate overlooks the Hudson River south of Albany.  Yes, the Dallands of Brooklyn. The family is often on the pages of this website: three weddings, seven baptisms, four funerals.  The family patriarch, Dr. Edward Dalland, a semi-retired veterinarian, in appreciation for the grand blessing his life and that of his family have been, did for his estate what the English Howards did for their castle.  They built a chapel; the good doctor erected on his estate a massive cross beneath which is the red-letter legend, "Thy Kingdom Come."

    Most of the religious rites referred to in the preceding paragraph were performed near the cross, before and after its raising. But this latest celebration, the wedding of the younger son, took place in church, the local Methodist Church in Coxsackie, New York.  Lawn tents on the estate, often favored for the celebrations, in January are insufficient defense against the wind and weather. The church was cozy and warm, the pastor, Bob Johnson, agreeable and very helpful.

    I met with Jamie and Michael earlier at a Greek restaurant in Lee MA.  That was the occasion for, among more important things, my epiphany in Epiphany (which see under Essays).  Michael works for the New York State Legislature, doing computer recording and transmission. Jamie works for a company that specializes in arranging displays for large stores like Lowes.  They live in Albany at the same residence, different floor, as brother Eric, his wife Karen, and their children, Abby and Emma. A rehearsal Friday night preceded the wedding Saturday afternoon. 

    Here is the message I offered the bridal couple after Jamie had been escorted to the altar by her Dad who, with Mom, kissed her and literally gave her hand to Michael:

The Best Is Yet to Come

            I rearranged the sequence of verses in the Apostle Paul’s famous love chapter.  By which I mean to suggest a more temporal meaning to his riff on putting away childish things.  Namely, that in this life, this mortal life too, we grow and change, and by God’s grace at work in us become more lovely and loveable souls than when we first began.

            As I sat across the table from the two of you last Saturday at noon at a restaurant in western Massachusetts, you held hands and glanced lovingly, smilingly, tenderly at one another. It might have been embarrassing were it not so fetching.  There you, Michael, expressed the thought I once sang about as a camper on Shelter Island, these words from the song “Tell Me Why I Love You”:

I really think that God above,

Created you for me to love. 

He picked you out from all the rest,

Because he knew I loved you best.”

Body and soul.  The Holy Spirit, I think you identified the agency, brought you together and helped arrange the meeting which eventuates in marriage today.

            I am here to tell you, with plenty of evidence in full view, that, however joyful and romantic you are on this day, however deeply and intimately you feel connected to each other, however rich your certainty of divine hands laid upon your joined hands, the best is yet to come.  I don’t mean a fait accompli, as if the best that is yet to come will just happen with the passage of sufficient time. No, the “best that is to come” is a promise you will fulfill.  Together.  Hand in hand, sure.  With eyes fixed on the other, of course.  But, more, by taking your romance and maturing it, growing it, within the influence of the love of Jesus.  That is, loving one another as he has loved you.

            Paul explains.  That love is patient… kind… not selfish, rude, or “my way or the highway” attitude.  Love wants and looks for the best in the other.  Well, every now and then open your Bible to I Corinthians 13 and read it again.  Until that love shapes your love definitively for each other, and for all others.  You have a lifetime to practice.  In good times and bad.  When she pushes the wrong buttons or he is unresponsive.  When money is in short supply, and when there is more than you can handle.  When the children come and whose turn is it at one in the morning to change the diapers? The rough times in your life together can, in the shadow of Christ’s love, be the occasions to draw you together more closely still. 

            The best, by God and your own effort, is yet to come.

            I offered this benediction on Sonny and Lynette (and maybe on Barbara and Shawn, and Eric and Karen too), from an earlier version of the Methodist ritual for weddings: “that you may so live together in this life, that in the world to come you may have life everlasting.”

            Yes, yes, in the long view too, the best is yet to come.

    Vows and rings exchanged, prayers said, the bridal party recessed, greeted well-wishers in the alcove, and then drove into the evening hour to the reception at Red's just a few hundred yards down Rte 9W from Exit 21B on the NY State Thruway.  Barbara and I now have a long history with many of the guests with whom we renew acquaintance as regularly as the Dalland family celebrates nuptials and produces babies.  Lots of fun and good food.


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