When I was about nine years old there was a wedding held at the church of Christ for the eldest daughter of one of the congregation families who was marrying the son of another long standing family. The family of the daughter was close friends with my family, their youngest son was about my age and we were friends just as were our parents. So it happened that I was with my mother at the house of the Bride on the day of the wedding as several of the ladies had gathered to prepare the bride. I remember being particularly delighted in the discomfort of my young friend as his role in the wedding party required he be dressed in black velour shorts with a vest and bow tie. I do not clearly recall the details of that day but there are two events which stand out in my memories even almost forty years later. The first recollection is of the moment when the mother of the bride presented her with a string of pearls to adorn her neck. It was the reaction of the mom and daughter and of all the ladies to that moment which makes it stand out. The pearls were a family heirloom, passed from daughter to daughter for more than five generations. Their history was storied, not the least of which was having been hidden in a dirt cellar of a South Carolina farm to save them from the looting Yankee troops during the days following the end of the Civil War. Tears and hugs were distributed in great abundance by all the ladies in the household, I didn’t understand the hoopla but I was impressed by the affect it was having on the women. The second event occurred later that morning and generated an almost equal level of emotional intensity but for a different reason altogether.
The wedding ceremony was to be conducted in the main auditorium of the church of Christ building and the bridal party was moving from the parking lot to the smaller auditorium in the back wing where the bride was to await the moment her father would deliver her down the aisle to the expectant groom. To reach the back wing of the building the bridal party had to pass under a covered walkway along side the main auditorium to a set of double doors giving access to the wing containing the smaller auditorium. It happens that in those days this walkway was home to a fair amount of nesting pigeons which for one reason or another were flushed from their perches as the bridal party passed beneath and one of the feathered flying rats deposited on the radiant bride a string of something quite unlike the antique pearls. The reaction of the mother of the bride and the other attending ladies was worthy of battlefield commanders. As the bride and her court were in various states of hysteria and stunned disbelief, the mothers moved like a well-oiled machine, whisking the bride into the mysterious environs of the ladies lounge where in very short order the offensive stain was eliminated from everything but horrified memory.
It’s likely that the bride of this story is not the last to have experienced the seeming disaster of a soiled dress but there is one other bride I want us to consider in our lesson today, a bride for which each of us may choose to adorn as with pearls or as pigeons.