I got a parking ticket, and the fine print on the ticket let me know that if I paid within the first two weeks—the fine was 15 dollars, but after two weeks, the fine went up to 20 dollars, so better to pay sooner than later. And the next morning, I had to do a funeral a few blocks from City Hall. So after the service, I went to pay the ticket.
Now, if you haven’t been to City Hall, I can tell you that’s it’s a lovely building with big, old wooden doors. And those big, old wooden doors to the City Clerk’s office were wide open as I stepped up to the cashier’s window just across the hall. I graciously paid for my parking sins, and I was turning to exit the building when I heard someone calling my name. It was Jane from the City Clerk’s office. She told me that they were in a “jam”—seems there was a young soldier and his fiancée in her office trying to get married. They’d had a few red-tape, paperwork challenges; but now everything was worked out—they had their marriage license and they were ready to get hitched—but now Jane couldn’t find the Mayor anywhere. Did I have a few minutes? Would I be willing to officiate some city hall nuptials?
Of course, it would be an honor and my pleasure, and I’d just come from a funeral, so I had my Book of Worship right out front in the car. The vows, the prayers, the blessing—I’d get the book, and we’d do it right.
And we did! And the bride and groom were sweet and young and everything a soldier and his bride should be, and someone cleaned out the hole puncher and threw the dots of paper for confetti; even the dog catcher stopped to applaud, and it was lovely.
Two days later, my new friend at the city clerk’s office called. She wanted to thank me again. In fact, everyone had enjoyed the wedding at City Hall so very much that my name had come up first thing when they realized they had another situation.
A couple in the area had been living together for over twenty years, but they’d never married. And now the man was dying. He was in the oncology unit at Kingston Hospital, and he wanted to marry his long time mate before he died. They had their wedding license, but he was too ill to leave his hospital room. Would I be willing to go to the oncology unit to do a wedding? And by the way, they’re Jewish—that’s not a problem, is it?
I’d be blessed and honored to go to the oncology unit to do a wedding. And off I went that afternoon to the hospital.
The groom was very sick, but smiling from ear to ear. The bride was smiling too, through a few tears. Their love and devotion to one another so apparent as they sat together in those big, blue hospital chairs—tight together, holding hands.
The nurses and staff were wonderful. They all squeezed into the room. The nurses had done a little decorating; they had a cake and flowers for the bride. And I read the Old Testament Scriptures, and said “mazel tov” at the end of the service and everyone mazel tov’d with me. It was romantic and bittersweet and full of love. And when the groom died a few weeks later, the bride asked me to read at his memorial service.
A few months later, I got a phone call from a young woman named Sally. And Sally told me that she and her boyfriend had been living together for seven years. In fact, they had a six year old and a three year old; probably time they got married.
But they were buying a house and raising a young family, and couldn’t afford much. They just wanted to get married in the living room of their new home with a few friends and some family. And did I do living room weddings?
Sally gave me her address, and I realized that I pass her house everyday on the way to church. Of course, I’d be happy to stop by on Friday evening.
And Sally and her groom were warm and wonderful people and their kids were adorable. And they shared their vows and kissed in the living room. And I signed their marriage license while we had tea and cookies around the kitchen table.
And the bride’s mother introduced herself to me and said, “I’m a nurse in the oncology unit at Kingston Hospital; I was there a few months ago at another wedding. And when my daughter told me they were getting married—I wanted you to be the one.”
Three weddings and a funeral. And it all started with a parking ticket. Because all things work together for good, for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Because God works and the Spirit moves.
And sometimes that rushing wind moves like a subtle breeze, gently floating you from spot to spot to spot, making connections and presenting opportunities to love and to serve—because God works and the Spirit moves even through parking tickets. Amen.