June 22, 2022
“My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!” (1 John 4:12 The Message)
Today is a remarkable day! Today my in-laws, Dan, and Joyce Chamberlain, celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary. They are part of the 0.1%ers who have lived long enough to have remained married to the same person for 7 decades. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, fewer than 6% of marriages endure for 50 years. There are no statistics kept for persons married 75 years because the incidence is so rare. Their anniversary is remarkable thing, an achievement, a work of patience and determination, a long obedience to wedding vows, a gift grace of good genes and God’s grace.
Fifty-five of their eighty-five children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and assorted spouses will gather in Florida this weekend to mark the occasion with music, meals, memories, games, and worship. It will be as busy, loud, chaotic, crazy, and wonderful as all such reunions are.
My in-laws are very wise. Joyce taught me how to be a good mother-in-law, cleaning and cooking and caring for grandchildren when she visited. She taught me the value of “medicine”, her stash of chocolate that came out at just the right moments. Dan commented at their 45th wedding anniversary, “marriage is both mysterious and mundane.” That is true for all marriages. Consider the range of emotions communicated within the musical South Pacific; the mysterious, “One Enchanted Evening” and the mundane, “I Want to Wash that Man Right Out of My Hair.”
Mysterious and mundane describe the long arc of relationships and the mundane far outnumber the mysterious. Changing diapers; waiting for hours to see your child compete for 30 seconds of wrestling; listening to your friend’s stories for the ____nth time (you fill in the number); showing up and not saying a word but simply being present are ways we “pay the price of admission” to witness and participate in others’ lives
Dan and Joyce have been faithful to the vows made all those years ago: to love, comfort, and honor one another, in sickness and in health. They are not perfect, but perfectly regular human beings who have done their best to live their commitments faithfully. This singularly amazing achievement has not been accomplished alone. They have had the support of family, community, and above all our God Who Is Love every step of the way.
Thank you for modeling the reality of these words, “If we love one another God dwells deeply within us.” Happy Anniversary! ~ Anne