Later this year, my parents will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. By my count, that’s nearly 22,000 days together. I think they deserve a party. This summer, if all goes well, my parents’ five children and spouses, along with 12 grandchildren (and two spouses), and 5 great-grandkids will converge on St. Louis for a celebration 60 years in the making.
And it might not have happened if it were not for a promise. Back in the fall of 1952, my mom, who lived in western New York, decided to go to college in Illinois, at what is now known as Lincoln Christian University. Her sister — my Aunt Dorothy — decided to go to Eastern Christian Institute, a small school in New Jersey. Mom promised that she would join Aunt Dorothy after a year, if the school in Jersey checked out alright.
Well, Eastern turned out alright, and Aunt Dorothy told mom that. But mom really liked Lincoln, and would have stayed there if not for the promise that she had made to her sister.
So my mom made her way from Illinois to New Jersey (kind of a reverse of the Westward Expansion; Go East, Young Woman!). The school was small — really small, with less than 25 students. Mom and dad got to know each other (how could they not in such a small college?), and they just kind of fell into dating.
As they began to get serious, Aunt Dorothy asked mom what was going on between them. So my mom, apparently unaware that this was the 1950s, went to my dad and asked, “Are we getting married?”
“Well, I guess so,” was dad’s reply. And despite his less-than-overwhelming level of confidence, the relationship continued, and grew stronger, and on August 1, 1954 — a day when the temperature would reach 100 degrees — mom and dad gave each other their unconditional vows in a decidedly unairconditioned church in East Orange, New Jersey.
And 60 years later — or, over 500,000 hours, if any one is counting — our family will celebrate the difference a promise makes. A promise made by one sister to another, that led to a meeting between a girl and a boy. But even more — a promise made between two people to love and serve each other, til death do them part.
On Sunday, at Fern Creek Christian, we will talk about that kind of love. And those kinds of promises. And we will honor that kind of faithful love, the kind that is rooted in God himself — the greatest promise keeper of all.