Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster have renewed their wedding vows in a small private ceremony in England and they intend to do so again in a grand ceremony next year in Italy. The 45 year old model said that she and her 71 year knight had the ceremony so that their new house could be ‘blessed’. They have been married ten years.
Today I am celebrating with Annabel our ‘pearl’ wedding. 30 years ago we were married in the Free North church, Inverness buy Rev Donald Lamont and Rev John AM Mackay. I remember the day well! It bucketed down rain – and it didn’t matter a jot. We knew then, what we know much better now, that the wedding was not the end, but only the beginning.
And after 30 years we won’t be renewing our vows. Why? Would it not be a nice thing to do? Would it not indicate our commitment to one another? Would it not be a good witness to do so in the eyes of the world and of God? Not at all. I won’t be renewing my vows because I meant them when I said them on the 15th of August 1986, and I mean them now. Of course our marriage is not perfect, of course not everything in our life has been smooth running. But our marriage is constantly being renewed, because, by the grace of God we are being renewed. Although outwardly we are fading away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day!
We have seen many things – personal losses, death, sickness, joy, such beauty and such ugliness in this fallen world. So much pain and suffering. And so many blessings! Andrew, Becky and Emma Jane…and Caireen and Pete being added to our family – and of course our first grandchild, Isla, ….you shall your children’s children see, and peace on Israel!
Although I don’t believe in the somewhat ridiculous (and certainly unbiblical!) notion of both partners in a marriage being ministers/pastors- Annabel and I have shared ministry together, for the first six years in Brora, and the past 24 in St Peters, Dundee. Again like marriage, it has not all been plain sailing, but like marriage we have known the blessing of the Lord, far more than we deserve and beyond our expectations. Hospitality, preaching, evangelism, visitation have been the basis as we seek to serve the Lord and his people. We are sinful and imperfect people, but we are ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, sinful and imperfect people. Our family is not the Waltons, Little House on the Prairie or Pride and Prejudice, but it is a marriage made in heaven and lived on earth. From my point of view I could not have been sent a better helpmeet!
So there will be no renewal of vows. We will carry on for the next 30 years (if the Lord spares us!) as we have for the past. The testimony is to Gods goodness and mercy. He has kept us together and he will keep us together until the time comes for an eternal joy, peace and rest, which even the best of this life can only be a foretaste of. Meanwhile I just pray that I and my wife/mother of our children/granny/diaconal assistant/senior social worker, cook extraordinaire/knitter/lover and best friend, will find the latter years even more fruitful than the former!
Footnote: In response to this some people have asked is it wrong to renew vows? I am not making laws for other people and I can see circumstances where it might be a good thing – for example if someone didn’t mean them, or had committed adultery and wanted to renew. I was just saying that for me, I meant them. I got married until death us do part – not for a ten year period, renewable on demand! I am thankful that by Gods grace we have kept those vows and by his grace we will – until death do us part!