My wife and I welcomed a new member to our family on December 13th as our middle son married his college sweetheart whom he has dated for the past nine years. She is from New Orleans and the wedding took place in the French Quarter of New Orleans. With its quaint shops, great music, art galleries, 18th century architecture and street performers at every corner, New Orleans is unsurpassed when it comes to culture and ambiance. And, of course, the food is among some of the greatest in the world. Although our son was raised in a traditional Methodist Church in Savannah and our new daughter-in-law was raised Catholic in the garden district of New Orleans, they chose not to have the wedding ceremony performed in a church or cathedral. Instead they had the ceremony at a beautiful building called Latrobe’s.
Built in 1822 by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, known as the “Father of American Architecture,” Latrobe’s is one of New Orleans most architecturally significant buildings and originally served as the Louisiana State Bank. Our son and daughter-in-law chose a local Hospice Chaplin to perform the wedding ceremony and after witnessing the event we understood why. He did an outstanding job, performing a Christian ceremony stressing the importance of love and sharing his feelings of how the newlywed’s love for each other had inspired him and given him hope for the future. The couple chose Romans 12:9-18 as their scripture reading. In this letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul describes how love changes one’s life and a new life begins. A life that hates what is evil and clings to what is good. A life that honors one another and a life that gives hope.
As I witnessed this beautiful experience of two young people expressing their love for each other and their hope for a bright future, I couldn’t help but contemplate what might lie ahead for them. I couldn’t help but think back to over 36 years ago when my wife and I took our wedding vows. The excitement, the bliss, that we felt as we entered this new phase of our lives. We’ll get jobs, buy a home, start a family- we’ll live the American dream. While I could see the sparkle in the newlywed’s eyes and hear the hope in their voice, I couldn’t help but wonder if our children and grandchildren would have the same opportunities as we had? Would they be able to live the American dream?
I couldn’t help but think of all the challenges facing our country and our world and what the newlywed’s would face in their lifetime. I thought about my recent campaign for Congress and the issues we had discussed- an insurmountable national debt that we were leaving future generations, the growing threat of terrorism, ISIS, the future of healthcare, Ebola, changes in workforce opportunities and on and on- all the bad things facing our world today.
I thought back on my father telling me how every generation hoped for the next generation to have a better life than the previous generation. While I knew my generation had it better than my fathers and his better than his fathers, would my son and daughter-in-laws generation have it better than mine? And then I looked into the eyes of the newlyweds and I saw the love and hope that they shared. I remembered the words of Paul to the Romans and I thought about all the blessings that a living God had bestowed on me and my family and this world. And suddenly my heart was at ease and I realized that it was all going to be ok. Yes, we have challenges and sometimes it seems they are insurmountable, but in the end we have things much more powerful- we have love and hope and a loving God who continues to bless us. Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Barrett Carter. We love you.