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Monday, June 27, 2005

Coincidences that Really Aren't



The reason there was no post on Friday is because I spent the day driving to Rochester to attend the wedding of a dear friend. The drive wasn't too bad - we got up early enough to miss all the traffic - and the scenary is beautiful. Really, if you haven't visited upstate New York, plan a vacation there soon. A tip: plan it for the summer.

My wife likes to say there is no such thing as a coincidence - she's one of these people that believes everything happens for a reason. Well, the weekend was full of either reasons or coincidences. I'll let you be the one to figure out which.

The wedding preparations were rather unexciting until someone decided to steam the veil and somehow a hole mysteriously appeared where no one had seen one before. Now, any of you who have been around a bride who is only hours from her wedding knows that this is a matter of national security. I mean, call out the National Guard because someone is going to lose their life over this.

It gave me a chance to actually play "big brother" for once. Having had nothing but big brothers myself, it was kind of a heart-warming experience to pull the bride to one side and tell her, "No wedding is perfect. All the stories we told you of the mistakes in ours was so you could understand that. Yet every wedding is perfect. It is made perfect by the love in your heart and in your husband's heart. One day you'll have a daughter that will be running around ready for blood because something didn't go right and you'll take her aside and laugh with her about your veil."

I was right. the wedding was, indeed, not perfect, yet it was, in fact, as perfect as it could possibly be. The joy in her face and the light in her husband's eyes were enough for every adult there to remember why they had said their vows to the person that completed their life. I am very happy to report that the bride hugged me very tightly after the wedding and said, "You're right. It was perfect. Thank you."

Another coincidence or not was that I was honored to spend well over an hour in conversation with Pastor Jim, who officiated the wedding. Smoking a celebratory cigar with the good Pastor was a first for me - actually it was the first of any kind of cigar I smoked with any Pastor. I was pleased to find a fellow soul - someone with a quick wit, a keen mind, and a burning dedication to his calling in life. If I get to shake his hand again in friendship, it will be only one more blessing in a life of many blessings.

Our talk ranged widely from Buffalo politics (which, like everywhere else, are deeply screwed) to what the bride and groom meant to the church they attend to what is becoming my speciality - the connection of politics and faith. Pastor Jim spoke about how he feared for his church becoming polarized between young and old and how they seemed to have so little in common far too often. I made an off the cuff remark concerning an article I had read long ago about how a church had faced a similar problem and solved it when the elders of the church formed a daycare for the single mothers of the church. I don't remember where the church was - though I want to say it was New Zealand - and I haven't heard anything about how it worked out. Obviously there are challenges for an undertaking of that type, but the church, as I recall the story, overcame those challenges and found themselves pulled together through the love of the children.

Pastor Jim chewed his cigar a bit and said, "Maybe this is a God thing, meeting you here like this." I shrugged, but the thought was rather exhillerating. It's nice to drop a comment that might actually help someone. Obviously, it's a long way from an offhand comment to reality, but somehow I think Pastor Jim just might be the kind of man who can make those things happen. At least, that's the impression I get. I know his parishoners think highly of him. That's a good start.

After the wedding, I gave Pastor Jim one of my cards and spoke to him of Jim Wallis and God's politics, and also of my fledgling association with the Christian Alliance for Progress. I didn't know at the time that the words I were speaking to Pastor Jim were sparking a bit of a controversy on the 'net. Enough for it to be picked up by Jesus Politics and Father Jake. Faithful Progressive was kind enough to mention it as well.

On the way home, my wife and I spoke about my conversation with Pastor Jim. It seems he remarked to a few people that he enjoyed our conversation as much as I did. I told my wife that I have always been blessed with the ability to make easy friendships with Pastors and Preachers. I think part of it is that I respect the position - after all, if they do it well, God gets the glory, but if they make a few mistakes, they are the one to catch Hell for it. It makes me feel a little better about the sudden decision I made to jump in with the Christian Alliance and tell them, "Yes, I'll organize the state of New Jersey."

So, Father Jake, you Garden State saint, send me directions how to find you and we'll have a cup of coffee and a donut. I take my coffee black and my donuts fresh - but I'll substitute an ice cream sundae in a pinch.

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