This past weekend I was in Blacksburg, VA for the second time in the last month. My prior trip was to engage with a community about the atrocity which took place on the Virginia Tech campus in April. During that trip we were looking at Jesus' view of suffering and the reality of evil in our hearts and in our world. This trip was different.
I went to pastor the wedding ceremony of two friends, Abraham Hardee and Sophia Abraham. Yes, it was an Abrahamic affair. The wedding gave me a smal glimpse of the kingdom of heaven for which I am grateful. No, it was not a Utopian weekend without any sin or drama - whenever you get lots of people together someone will find offense somewhere. What was so beautiful about the occasion was the mosaic of God's people who were present in the wedding party.
In one of the visions into heaven afforded by the book of Revelation we read the following:
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen." Revelation 7:9-12
Now there was not a great innumerable multitude at the service this weekend; though the wedding party did have 14 attendants, a bride, a groom, a flower girl and me the pastor. What was seen though was a beautiful tapestry of diversity in God's people. Of the 18 in the wedding party I believe there were 1 Asian American, 3 Indian Americans, 6 Euro Americans and 8 African Americans. In this party there was not only diversity, there was unity within the diversity. To my knowledge each person is a follower of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Jewish carpenter from an ancient ghetto town called Nazareth.
Often our contemporary world is marked by a diversity without unity and a mere tribalization of peoples by race, ethnicity, religion or economics. Or it is marked by a unity without true diversity with communities segregated along worn out lines of division - Sunday mornings come to mind.
This weekend I stood as a white dude with some dear, dear friends. One Indian, the other a black guy. I could not help but weep during the ceremony and to be honest it had nothing to do with race. I saw the gospel of Jesus working in people...and it was beautiful - as were the vows of covenant marriage made through communion with Jesus. I wish the couple the best and continued grace in the gospel. Now if I could only persuade the Hardees to come live in New Jersey with our family - and start churches together made from the same metal.