And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
And the one who was seated on the throne said,
“See, I am making all things new.”
Revelation 21: 3-5a
I met Sandy in November of 2001. She came to a memorial service that my then church, All Saints in Hoboken, NJ was holding for the families of the fifty-two Hoboken residents who never came home from work on September 11th. Sandy had a two-year-old daughter, Rhiannon, and was widowed at 31. Her husband, Keith, had called from the North Tower just after the South Tower had fallen. “Tell my Mom I’m okay” he said before hanging up. Sandy never heard from Keith again.
As a result of the memorial service, Sandy and I created a September 11th Support Group that met weekly for three years. Listening to Sandy’s story and the stories of the other thirty-something widows, widowers and fiancés of the people killed was regularly unbearable. Their collective grief was much like the gaping hole that was left where the Trade Center had once stood. Families’ lives were mangled, relationships severed, plans for the future pulverized.
Last month I officiated when Sandy married John on the terrace of a resort in the Poconos. I got to catch up with lots of former support group members. Several of them are recently married and engaged. As I was putting on my stole in the women’s bathroom, Abby, another group member, told me that she’s pregnant.
A Happy Walk
A short while later, Sandy walked down the aisle with Jay, who had been her late husband Keith’s best man and later, sadly, escorted Sandy at his memorial service. This time she told him, “I think we deserve to take another happy walk.”
While John and I waited for Sandy at the top of the aisle I leaned in to him and whispered, “I don’t care how short I am or how much more you weigh, if you start crying I will beat you.” After they took their vows Rhiannon joined them at the altar. They held hands in a circle as their family and friends, Keith’s mother among them, prayed. As it turns out, I didn’t have to beat on John. I cried first.
“Why white?” Her Mother asked referring to Sandy’s wedding gown. “Because I am coming to this wedding as a whole person” she replied.
“Behold,” says the God of Revelation, “I will make all things new.” God isn’t fixing what is broken. That’s what Sandy said in her white gown, that’s what Abby said with her hands clasped over her stomach, that’s what Jay said with two wedding rings clenched in his hand, that’s what John said with his bride and his new daughter, Rhiannon, on that day they became a family. God is making all things new! Every person on that terrace, believer or non-believer, had to say AMEN!
I know this wedding was a miracle. I know it because it was one of the times I got to see, touch and be a part of how God is redeeming the world. By that definition, miracles abound.