This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

In all sincerity

The bride’s grandparents led the wedding procession. The two grandmothers walked down the center aisle; a grandson pushed the grandfather’s wheelchair. The attendants were next, followed by the groom and his parents, then the bride and hers. Three generations, elders first.

A wedding celebrates new love. But the subtext is old love, the kind that passes from one generation to the next. Since a new marriage stands on this time-tested foundation, why not begin by honoring the oldest builders of that solid footing?

A wedding celebrates two people making lifetime promises. But there are others to honor: Grandparents who accepted the day-care handoff of swaddled toddlers in car seats on winter mornings. Who cleaned up the kitchen after mischievous cousins tossed flour everywhere. Who pulled the future bride in a little red wagon to her great-grandmother’s house for a snack of crackers and Diet Dr Pepper.

Then there was the grandfather who died three years ago. A word from the wedding scripture sparked a memory of him. The passage, Rom. 12:9-12, begins, “Love must be sincere.” The random but relevant thought: When the bride’s father played baseball as a boy, and his team lost, his father said, “How can we lose when we’re so sincere?” It was a quote from Charlie Brown, whose “Peanuts” comic-strip baseball team always lost.

With their sincere love, the new couple looks like a winner.

But there’s more to the memory than that. “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz occasionally worked Christian themes into his comic strip. While the “how can we lose . . . ?” quote isn’t overtly religious, it conveys the bemusement and childlike faith that make Charlie Brown’s mel­ancholy optimism endearing.

Every spring, Charlie Brown believes this is the year his hapless baseball team will finally win a game. Every autumn, he falls for Lucy’s coaxing to kick a football even though she’s pulled it away every time before.

Charlie Brown knows life is full of disappointment, but he never loses hope. He knows sincerity doesn’t win baseball games, but he believes his athletically inept friends possess a strength of character that somehow ought to produce success.

In marriage, sincere love will indeed carry a couple through choppy waters. Genuine love is honest. It speaks gently when the truth is hard to hear. It does not merely pretend to care but really desires the best for the other person.

The wedding scripture continues: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

A wedding is all about joyful hope. God’s desired future awaits, and that is something to be glad about.

At the same time, life is a puzzle, with times of trouble that leave us wondering, like Charlie Brown on the pitcher’s mound, why we sometimes end up on the short end of the score. Unlike Charlie Brown, a married couple doesn’t stand alone. Older generations will walk patiently and prayerfully with them and perhaps remind them that the only solution to life’s puzzle is genuine love.

The love that surrounded Abby Schrag and Evan Koch on June 8 at Shalom Mennonite Church in Newton, Kan., was most sincere.

Paul Schrag

Paul Schrag is editor of Anabaptist World. He lives in Newton, Kan., attends First Mennonite Church of Newton and is Read More

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