Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

September 17, 2010

Seventy-six Bridesmaids

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Most weddings have one or more bridesmaids.  Why?  The custom from ancient Roman times was that the bride would select certain young women to accompany and assist her on her wedding day.  The bridesmaids were to serve much like body guards in case a spurned suitor sought to kidnap the bride.  It was also feared that evil spirits might attack the bride or the bridegroom.  Thus the bridesmaids and the groomsmen would dress very similar to the bride and groom in order to confuse the evil spirits.  Roman law also required ten witnesses.  To insure this number, if there was a question of sufficient family or friends present, the bride and groom could have five attendants each and it would insure a legal marriage.

Today, those Roman traditions are archaic, but we have continued the custom of bridesmaids which existed even prior to Roman times.  And at most weddings the guests anticipate such.  Performing many weddings, I have often watched as the groom, the best man, and groomsmen would enter without much fanfare. 

 But then the “real” processional started. The bridesmaids enter.  Dressed alike in chosen color and style of dress, everyone turns and nods to one another with a quiet, “Isn’t she beautiful?” 

Another comes down the aisle and you can sense the non-verbal communication, “Lovely, isn’t she?”

Then another . . . and all are enthralled with the ladies who attend the bride.   The guests smile as each bridesmaid takes her place in the wedding party.  Sometimes there might be only one or two bridesmaids, but I have seen the number of seven or eight.  And there have been weddings with even more.

A recent wedding of a friend of my wife began as is the custom.  The bride, single for many years, celebrated the union with the man for whom she had waited all her life!  Friends and family celebrated with her this joyous occasion.  As with most brides, she had chosen her bridesmaids.

Imagine now, that typical scene of the bridesmaids.  One bridesmaid enters, followed by the second, then the third.  The guests respond over the beauty of the moment.  The count continues, four, five, six, seven . . . !  “How many are coming?” is the thought in the minds of many of the guests.

. . . thirty-five, thirty-six, thirty-seven . . . !  “What?  How many bridesmaids?”

Would you believe, Seventy-six?

Yes, there were seventy-six bridesmaids.  They did not each carry a trombone as the seventy-six  people did in the  movie, The Music Man, but they did each have a bouquet! 

These bridesmaids were all friends of the bride from her Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  This is probably a world-record!  It certainly testified to friendship and sisterhood.  And age had no bounds!  The oldest bridesmaid was over 80 years old!

Isn’t this a wonderful story?  And I am sure it will be repeated many times!  It is overwhelming . . . seventy-six bridesmaids!  I have witness multiple numbers . . . but nothing like this!

I do know one wedding recorded in history that spoke of ten bridesmaids.  It was not an actual wedding, but a story Jesus told of ten bridesmaids.  It is recorded in Matthew 25.  These bridesmaids were to be a welcoming party for the groom and his party as they arrived.  Without modern communication, the arrival could happen at an hour unknown.  The bridesmaids waited around the clock.  At last, the word was received that the bridegroom was coming.  Quickly, the bridesmaids prepared to leave to greet him.  It was dark, and they needed their individual lamps to provide light.  Suddenly, five of the ten did not have sufficient oil for their lamps.  They could not borrow from those who were prepared so the five left for the store to purchase oil.  While they were gone, the groom arrived and they all went inside.  When the five returned, they discovered they were no longer included in the wedding party.

The point to the story Jesus told was simply that one day He would return and if we were not prepared to meet Him through our faith in who He is, we would be shut out.  We would miss heaven!  I suppose this implies we are all “bridesmaids” and we need to be prepared to participate in that great celebration!

“Prepare to meet your God . . . .”  (Amos 4:12)  “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”  (Matthew 25:13)



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