Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Since many of you have journeyed alongside of me as I slowly advanced down the path to becoming a pastor, I thought I would share with you my first experience as the officiant at a wedding. I did not choose to get licensed as a pastor in order to perform weddings, but I knew it was inevitable. I had turned down a few opportunities, for different reasons, and was waiting for the perfect match for my first wedding. The request came from one of my best friends, and old roommate, Brian Corbin. I agreed to do the wedding as long as he was okay with me being super nervous and most likely screwing up somehow. The deal was struck. I was excited that my first wedding would be with somebody I knew so well.

Not only was I asked to be the officiant, but also a groomsman. I was proud of the role because I had never heard anybody play both roles before. Which automatically elevates me to a new level of awesomeness. At first we thought about me walking down and just standing in line with all the other groomsman, have the bride (Aimee) come down the aisle, have a moment of awkward tension as we look around for the pastor, and finally have me pop out of the line and yell, “I’ll marry you!” Maybe put on one of those white collar things, or rip off a fake mustache for dramatic effect. We decided against it, but I definitely reserve the right to do this in the future. Overall, it was fun to be in both roles, but also confusing at times. Am I the fun guy or the spiritual guy? Do I pray for him or try to make him laugh? I eventually realized they were not opposites, and I could try to do both.

If you are wondering how I did, it is best summed up by my wife’s analysis after the ceremony. “You know how when you preached for the first time, the main comment you got from everybody was that they would have never guessed it was your first time? Well…. you could tell it was your first time.” Thanks! This was after she said that I did a great job, so don’t worry, Tatum is still the extremely supportive wife. She was just pointing out that my nerves showed a bit more. Which didn’t surprise me as I felt the weight of the day. If my sermon isn’t the greatest, “Hey, come back next week.” I have heard enough brides talk about every minute detail of their wedding day that I knew how memorable every moment is. So I felt that weight, probably more than I should have.

It was an outside wedding and we were at La Jolla cove, which is gorgeous even in overcast. Well, I walk my bridesmaid down the aisle and take my place next to Corbin. I’m already nervous standing there, and as soon as I start talking, we hear a bunch of feedback through my mic. So much that he had to take the volume down and barely anybody could hear me. In that moment, instead of pausing and logically trying to figure out the best next step, I panicked! I looked down at my notes and began to read them…. just a bit too fast. I just hoped that the sound guy would figure it out and fix it. As I look up, the bride tells me to turn off my mic, and I see Tatum given me the signal to slow down. Okay, time to regroup. Eventually they bring over another mic, I welcome everybody to the wedding who could finally hear me, and we proceeded a bit more relaxed. The rest of the wedding went great, and I felt more like myself as the wedding continued.

The only other tense moment, which nobody could feel except myself, happened while I was leading the entire wedding through communion. Now when I am nervous, my mouth gets dry. I also could not find water right before I went up there, so it was extremely dry. Add to the fact that the Body of Christ was not broken into very small pieces, and you have created quite the predicament for me. Have you ever had a piece of bread lodged in your throat? I looked down to the ground, and just pretended to have a more elongated moment of gratitude for what Christ has done for me. In reality, I was trying to find any saliva still existing in my mouth to get some momentum for swallowing. No luck. So I decided I had no choice but to introduce the blood of Christ to everybody with His body still lodged in my throat. With only one moment of borderline gagging, I force out the words, and then pour the grape juice down my throat. I can’t remember the last time I was so grateful for the impact of Christ’s blood in my life. Disaster averted, and communion was celebrated.

Overall, I think the day went well. Although I learned a lot, and plan on being more relaxed and myself at the next wedding, I only had one regret from the day. I wish I would have clearly explained what an amazing privilege it was to have Brian and Aimee as my first wedding couple. They are great together, and I’m excited to see how their marriage unfolds and blesses those around them. I just wish I would have said that on their wedding day.