On Sunday, July 6th, Carol and I celebrated 40 years of marriage (called Ruby Wedding in England!) It was a strangely wonderful time.
Partly, because I was preaching in Abingdon Baptist Church, Oxfordshire. (Carol said it was typical of our whole marriage that the church still took priority!) None of our family could be present, though Carol's chief bridesmaid and her husband attended the service, and treated us to lunch afterwards. We reflected how forty years earlier, at Chatsworth Baptist Church, West Norwood in South London, it was the church family who made our wedding so memorable. They laid on the entire reception. Since Carol had no parents alive, the church stepped in to create a magnificent wedding banquet in the church hall. Sometimes we talk about church 'family' in abstract terms, but this was real. And the church has continued to be vital to our lives. So, it was highly appropriate for me to preach on my wedding anniversary.
But also, it was strange because of the compression of memories that such an anniversary brings. All my ministry I have heard people say that 'they can't believe where the time has gone', ' they don't feel any older', ' it only seems like yesterday.' But we echo these comments ,with profound gratitude to each other for God's love that really has triumphed through our own story. Actually, I preached on God's gospel goodness and that sums up our story best of all.