When I was a child I used to wonder why it was that my mother would pick up the newspaper and turn immediately to the announcements of births, marriages and deaths. I could never see what it was that she found of interest. In fact, when I heard that the column was also known as ‘hatches, matches and dispatches’, I quite enjoyed using this title for my mother’s favourite newspaper column.
Hatches, matches and dispatches. Births, marriages and deaths. These three events are some of the most important in the life of every one of us. We are all only born once. We only die once. Hopefully, most people only marry once. When a couple marry, both families and all of their relatives and friends wish the bride and groom a long and happy life together.
Some time ago, there was an interesting BBC interview with a couple who had married each other nine times and were just about to marry for the tenth time. They decided that they were going to sample as many different cultural weddings as possible. So they travelled around most of the world. They had a traditional Japanese wedding. They had a traditional Australian aboriginal celebration. They travelled to Ethiopia and had a marriage celebration there in one of the villages. Eventually they planned to head back to America and have a church wedding there.
It all sounded a bit crazy, but not half as mad as the man who married his motorbike! It’s true. He was so crazy about his motorbike that he actually decided to marry it and found someone to conduct the wedding ceremony. I saw part of it on the news. The man and his motorbike then went off on their honeymoon!
There have also been a number of couples who have decided to have their weddings in strange places. This often reaches the news. For instance there have been several underwater divers who have chosen to be married on the seabed. There have been those who have decided to celebrate their wedding on the top of a mountain or somewhere else unusual.
When I hear about these unusual weddings, I often wonder about the bride and groom. Do they really understand what is meant by marriage? Do they have any plans for a lifetime commitment? Do they understand the sacrifices that are all part of a happy marriage? There is a time when every newly-wed discovers that life is not going to be as romantic as had been imagined. How many husbands and wives have woken up to hear the snores of their spouse and have realised that snores are going to be part and parcel of the rest of their lives?
I remember reading an interview in which a young couple was asked, the day before their wedding, if they thought their marriage would last. They did not expect it to last for very long……so why marry?
An English couple recently celebrated their 83rd wedding anniversary. He was 103 and she was 98. That was a marriage! A marriage really is made in heaven….and so is each one of us. Marriage is for life, gives life and lasts until death. That’s why my mother finds it interesting to read the births, marriages and death announcements in the newspaper.
Lord, today we pray for all married people. We pray for those who are planning to marry. We pray that they might have the right understanding of, and commitment to, a life together. We pray, Lord, that you will bless them at every moment of their lives together.