The God of Second Chances

July 28, 2012

Psalm 30:2

"God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. God, you pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down-and-out." (The Message)

Reflection by Martin B. Copenhaver

I love officiating at weddings for second marriages.  In fact, I often prefer them to weddings for first marriages.  I know that might sound strange because, of course, you cannot have a second marriage without a first ending either in death or divorce, two of the saddest realities of all.

But in my experience, people who are getting married a second time approach their weddings differently.  They tend not to get taken in by the shimmering surface of weddings.  They seem to care less about where they will hold a reception and what the wedding party will wear.  They wouldn't want a fairy tale wedding, even if they could pull one off.  To those who have been married before, all the obsessive focus on the details of a wedding can seem irrelevant, if not a downright distraction.

People who are getting married a second time just seem to understand that, in the end, the wedding does not matter all that much.  It is the marriage that counts.  Perhaps that is why the marriage vows sound different when spoken by someone who has been married before.  When someone who could not, or would not, stay in a marriage stands up before others and promises to another, "for better or for worse," those words take on added resonance.  It is clear what is at stake.  Or when someone whose first spouse has died utters the words, "as long as we both shall live" to another, the vow seems all the more precious.  There is no escaping the profound implications of what is going on here.

Besides, I believe in the God of second chances, a God who takes the raw stuff of death or defeat and breathes new life into it.  So I love officiating at weddings for second marriages.

Prayer

I thank you that you are both the God of new beginnings and second chances.  

About the Author
Martin B. Copenhaver is Senior Pastor, Wellesley Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is the author, with Lillian Daniel, of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.

"I Do! Getting Ready for Marriage: Today's Guide for Couples," from the Stillspeaking Writers' Group.

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