Parenthood is filled with many joyous moments, made sweeter by the challenging times. But nothing in my parenting journey can compare to hosting a rehearsal dinner on Friday night and officiating at my son's marriage on Saturday:
Some of you know the story that Courtney and I came to our faith in Cincinnati. One of the key elements for me was spending several years in a small group of six men where we would talk about our faith and our lives. We also would occasionally get together for dinner with our wives. At the first dinner in 2003, one of the wives told the story that from the time she was a little girl, she prayed every day for God to bring the right man in her life to marry. God had answered that prayer with her husband. Courtney shouted out “I wish I had thought of that!”
Courtney and I have spent the past 18 years praying each day for God to bring the right life partner for Reed and Jayne, and we are so thankful that God answered that prayer by bringing Sara into Reed’s life. Last week we hosted a dinner that included two Sikhs. They each told the story of how, following their culture, their parents had arranged marriages for them, and how it worked out wonderfully. I can honestly say that if we could have chosen Reed’s wife, we would have chosen Sara. And Sara, you have chosen well in choosing Reed to be your husband.
Reed, you were born 31 years ago this day, so I have been your father for 11,323 days. I have cherished each and every one of those days. I mentioned last night that I had great parents, but they never came to any of my baseball games from little league through college. So I vowed that I would go to every one of my kids games. I spent 17 years (and thousand of hours) watching you play basketball, soccer and tennis, including driving 550 miles each way between Cincinnati and Iowa to watch your college soccer games. After your last game, I let you in on a secret: it was never about the games. Rather, sports provided me with the excuse to simply spend time with you. In many ways, sports have been the soundtrack of our lives, playing in the background while we spent precious time together as you grew into the remarkable young man you are today. I have never seen anyone whose play more perfectly captures who he is as a person. You play (and live) with joy, passion, perseverance, humility, and selflessness. Your special gift is that you make those around you better, on the athletic field and off.
Several of your basketball and soccer coaches told me through the years that they never had a player before who they had to tell to shoot more. Usually, coaches have to tell players to shoot less and pass the ball more. You are the rarest of players who think first about helping their teammates succeed. You are that way in life: always more concerned about others than yourself.
I have learned much about being a better man by being your father. I will never forget the time when you were in middle school and I told a story at the dinner table about a law student who kept missing my class. He had diabetes, and his insurance did not cover the $2,000 cost of an insulin pump. As a result, his blood sugar would often crash at night so he would often oversleep. You asked if I had offered to pay for the pump, and I said no. Without batting an eye, you said you would pay for it. You had saved that money from your allowance and various jobs, and yet you freely gave it away to someone you never met. The law school wanted to take a photo of you with the student, but you refused and wanted to remain anonymous. I have never seen a better example of Matthew 6:2-4: "[W]hen you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. ... [W]hen you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret." We told the student that we got the money from a fictional student emergency fund.
Reed, you have filled my life with joy these 11,323 days. But no days have been more joyful than today and tomorrow. The single greatest thing I ever did was marrying the absolute perfect wife and partner. I am so glad that you have followed in my footsteps in this way. We toast Reed and Sara on this very special night.
Family and friends, thank you all for coming today to share in this wonderful occasion. We are gathered here on this beautiful day in Malibu to witness and celebrate Reed and Sara’s union in marriage.
The marriage contract is not to be entered into lightly, but thoughtfully and seriously, with an understanding of its obligations and responsibilities, as well as its joys and benefits. Sara and Reed have patiently waited for over a year longer than they had planned due to COVID-19.
We have all lost much during COVID-19, including the opportunity to have Sara’s father Anthony with us, as he passed away last June. I read Anthony’s obituary this morning, and it says that “Anthony passed away peacefully in the loving arms of his devoted wife, Lynda, daughter, Sara, and son, Andres.” As the father of the groom, I can say with utmost confidence that the father of the bride’s loving arms are enveloping us here today.
Reed and Sara: we are all so excited to be here because you are a perfect embodiment of the love described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. … Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
As I said last night, Courtney and I have prayed daily for 18 years for the “perfect” life partner for Reed. Sara: you are the answer to that prayer. We are grateful and filled to the brim with joy to celebrate your union today. You love our beloved son with all of your heart, and we in turn love you with all of our hearts.
Two very special people in Sara’s life would like to say a few words. ...
Sara and Reed: please face each other and take each other’s hands, so that you may see the gift that your spouse’s hands are to you.
These are the hands ... of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow and forever.
These are the hands .. that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.
These are the hands ... that will passionately love and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch will comfort you like no other.
These are the hands ... that will hold you when fear or grief comes your way.
These are the hands ... that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes -- tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
These are the hands ... that will tenderly hold your children.
These are the hands ... that will give you encouragement to chase your dreams.
These are the hands ... that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times and give you strength you never knew you had.
These are the hands ... that will lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into eyes that are filled with overwhelming love for you.
These are the hands ... that even when they are wrinkled with age, these hands will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
These are the hands ... that will turn the pages in your Book of Love.
These are the hands ... that will proudly wear your wedding rings.
Reed and Sara have each prepared vows that they will read now. ...
Reed, do you promise that in joining Sara in holy matrimony you will love, honor, comfort, support, and hold only to her, through times of sickness as well as good health, through hard times as well as times of joy and celebration, for richer or poorer, for as long as you both shall live?
Sara, do you promise that in joining Reed in holy matrimony you will love, honor, comfort, support, and hold only to him, through times of sickness as well as good health, through hard times as well as times of joy and celebration, for richer or poorer, for as long as you both shall live?
Sara and Reed have chosen to exchange rings as a symbol of their love and commitment to each other.
Reed, as you place Sara’s ring on her finger, please repeat after me. With this ring, I thee wed and pledge you my love and commitment now and forever.
Sara, as you place Reed’s ring on his finger, please repeat after me. With this ring, I thee wed and pledge you my love and commitment now and forever.
Sara and Reed, before these witnesses, you have pledged to be joined in marriage. You have now sealed this pledge with your wedding rings. By the authority vested in me by the State of California and the University Church of Christ, it is my honor and delight to pronounce that you are now legally married.