Daily Proverbial, from Ecclesiastes, 5 December 2012

A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything. Ecclesiastes 10, verse 19.

As I mentioned yesterday, this week is wedding week here at my house. My daughter is getting married this weekend, and we are all knee-deep in executing plans, doing things, and shopping for the weekend. Family starts arriving today and the wedding schedule officially kicks off tomorrow. There will be much revelry, family gossip, probably plenty of stress, and feasting. The rehearsal dinner is Thursday, and I am sure there will be laughter. Friday night, after the wedding, we’ll have a grand reception where the wine will flow freely. Ditto Saturday night, when wine will flow freely again at my house (specifically hot gluewein in the family wine pot) because my loved ones will all gather here again for one last get-together before they all go their own ways on Sunday. Paying for all this are many almighty dollars: months of bonus work, extra hours, and scrimping. It’s always expensive to get married, especially if you want to ‘do it right.’

After all, like the verse says, money is the answer for everything, right? Not quite.

You know it isn’t. In the season for Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, or even Christmas weddings, you know deep inside that money isn’t the answer for everything. Spend a thousand bucks (or fifteen thousand of them) and you may have quite a lot of stuff but it leaves you feeling unfulfilled. So you know where I’ll be going with this short missal (and I promise it will be short). Keep the money, please. It really doesn’t buy happiness. Yesterday, I spent a princely sum on things we need for the weekend, and at the end of it I felt sort of frustrated. I went to 7 different stores to pick up things that we’ll be glad to have, and I really didn’t even splurge. It just cost a lot of money. ‘The age of hope and change’ should be called ‘the age of inflation and expensive.’ Stop me if I’m wrong but hasn’t everything gone up in price this year? It simply costs more to live now than it did just four or so years ago. Quite frankly, if money is the answer for everything, then the question is pretty messed up.

Clearly, it isn’t the answer, and it isn’t because there’s more to this rock than just what it takes to get by. You don’t spend a bunch of dough to impress people: you spend it because you love them, because you want the people most important to you to have a good time and enjoy themselves. It’s rare for my entire family to get together all in one place. In fact, in the 23 years I’ve been married, it’s never happened that all of my wife’s family and mine got together, let alone joining ours with the extended family of our son-in-law. In 2012 America, it just doesn’t happen that often, so you want to do what you can to build the background for the occasion to go smoothly, and for people to celebrate, and visit, and just love. When you do this, take a few minutes to step back and realize it is a blessing given to you from above. It’s a God thing. Thank the Lord that He helps us do what we can.

Thank Him because life is like the story of the Grinch. If memory serves, it was the Grinch who thought that if he took all the Who’s stuff, they would stop Christmas. When he did, something unexpected happened. “Maybe, thought the Grinch, Christmas means something a little bit more.” The Grinch starts out as a miserable, angry, ugly fluff of green on legs. He fails to see through the hollow materialism of feasting, wine, revelry and things. The real meaning of Christmas, that intangible love, shines through once the Grinch stole Christmas and found out that all he had was a fat bag on top of Mount Crumpet. That changed everything.

Stuff isn’t the answer. Money isn’t the answer. Feasting and good wine aren’t it either. Jesus is the answer and when He answers, it makes all the rest of it look trivial.

So it is with wedding week as well. Take away the dress, the tuxedos, the open bar, the gluewein, the canapés, the candlelit chapel, and all the trappings of a December ceremony. Take all those away and the only thing that matters is that two people will join their Lord in a sacrament of holy matrimony. My wife and I will be there. So will the groom’s large family. You’ll be there in our thoughts. And the Lord will be there too, joining with the couple in a marriage covenant of three, not just two. That will make it all very worthwhile.

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