This past weekend I had the honor and privilege of conducting the marriage of a young lady who grew up in my children’s ministry years ago. I’ve done many of these in recent years, and each one blesses and humbles me. This one would be especially amazing, for an element included that I had never heard of before, much less ever utilized in a ceremony.
Lindsey and Chris came to me earlier this year, asking me to perform their wedding ceremony. I of course wholeheartedly agreed, as I’ve always loved Lindsey and her family. When we first met to plan the wedding, Lindsey said, “I have this idea for the ceremony, that Chris and I could plant a tree together. What do you think about it?” Immediately, the passage in Jeremiah 17:8 came to mind- “They shall be like a tree planted by the waters, that sends its roots out by the stream. It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green. It worries not in a year of drought, and does not fail to bear fruit.” That was all the confirmation we needed. Many weddings do a Unity Candle, a Sands of Time, a Unity Cross, among others. Beautiful and powerfully symbolic, all. For Lindsey and Chris, we would plant a tree.
The wedding was held up in the mountains of north Georgia, on the shores of Lake Chatuge. Aside from the occasional rain and the mountaintops covered in cloud, the wedding was amazing. After they exchanged vows and rings, two of the groomsmen brought around a small, potted dogwood tree, placed it front and center, and we pulled up a pan of rich, black soil. In full wedding garb, tux and white dress, both Chris and Lindsey knelt down, scooped in some soil, then watered it all in with a watering pail before getting their hands in, spreading the now wet soil around and packing it down. As they stood back up, I lifted a towel from a small water basin behind me, and handed it to Chris. He cleaned his hands, the took Lindsey’s hands in his, and wiped her hands clean as well. It was a holy moment, unlike any had ever seen before in a wedding.
As Lindsey and Chris stood before me, the tree as well, I explained to those present, “What you have just witnessed is a beautiful picture of what God meant a marriage to be. As Lindsey and Chris had to get their hands dirty together to carry this out, marriage is work too. Both husband and wife must be willing to ‘get their hands dirty’ to make it work, according to God’s will and plan. But I can tell you, the blessings and fruit are well worth it.”
We prayed, I declared them husband and wife, Chris kissed his radiant bride, and the two became one.
Several days later, and I still marvel at this ceremony, birthed in Lindsey’s heart by God Himself. Amazing, beautiful, powerful in its visual symbolism. I hope to use this great idea again some day, in future weddings I may be asked to conduct.
God bless Lindsey and Chris.