Don’t Miss the Wedding…or the Funeral

This past weekend I attended the wedding of one of my husband’s college friends who has never been married before. We’re all pushing 50, so it was super exciting to be a part of this wonderful celebration. Not only did we get to celebrate the wedding, we got to spend time with old friends. We laughed a lot. The wedding was out on the West Coast, so it pretty much took two full days of traveling just to get there and back. And it was worth every bit of time stuck in a security line or wedged in a middle seat of the plane.

This coming weekend, I head up to the northwest corner of our state to participate in the funeral of my oldest friend’s mother. We will celebrate a life well-lived and grieve together and give and receive lots of hugs. And we will laugh a lot.

Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.

Romans 12:15

At the wedding, my husband’s college friends retold many of the same stories they tell every time we get together. At the funeral, my friends and family will retell many of the same stories we tell every time we get together. I have yet to tire of any of them.

Showing up for celebrations, commemorations, marriage vows and memorial services takes time and (often) money–two things we all feel we never have enough of. But if we aren’t using our time and money to celebrate and commune with the people we love most, we might want to re-think what we’re using our time and money for.

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

1 Corinthians 12:26

Of course, we can’t make it to everything–particularly those who are parenting young children, raising kids with special needs or caring for aging parents. We all have responsibilities and budget constraints that don’t go away just because someone is having a milestone birthday or suddenly lost a loved one.

But we should not let the opportunity to be present for these life markers pass by easily. We should not be too quick to dismiss a chance for celebration because it would take more effort than staying home and watching Netflix. These are the events that shape our lives, strengthen our connection with our people and (perhaps most importantly) give us new stories to tell (like this wedding where one of the guests cut in to the non-traditional wedding cake before the bride and groom could do it).

Whenever you can, don’t miss out on the opportunity to laugh and cry and swap stories with the people who matter most. We were made for community. Make your people a priority.

Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the PCUSA. If you are looking for an inclusive, progressive Christian community, check out what we’re creating at Doubting Believer.

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