A chorus of ‘yee-haws!’ rang out through the sanctuary of St. Peter’s Anglican Church on Sunday, August 25, as rector Coleen Lynch and assistant priest the Rev. Michael Lynch said ‘I do’ before a congregation of 119 cowboys and cowgirls. In celebration of their 35th wedding anniversary the couple renewed their vows and received a blessing from Bishop Jane who appeared quite comfortable in a hat, jeans and boots. Many of the couple’s neighbours from St. Andrew’s Centre crossed the avenue from St. Peter’s to attend the service.
“What a great morning! You must all love Coleen and Mike very much,” said Bishop Jane. Preaching on the Gospel of Luke 13:10-17 (Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman), she said: “Jesus teaches us that love is unconditional. This morning those of us who normally wear western-type clothing and those of us who do not, showed up to celebrate with these two people who have devoted their lives to serving God, because it is a loving thing to do.
“We’re called to act in loving ways, in the little things in life and in the big things in life. We’re called to let God lift our eyes up off the ground, just like the woman in the story who was bent over for 18 years. Jesus restored her to fullness of the community and said, by His action to her, ‘I know who you are.’ The woman in the story didn’t expect to be noticed by Jesus, but she was. Are there people in our lives who are invisible to us? You can change someone’s whole day by saying ‘hi’ to them. We need to be a community of people who, without question, cares for and loves our neighbour,” said Bishop Jane.
Turning toward Coleen and Mike, she said: “tell either of these two that something is impossible and look out! Their story, if you don’t know it, is a bit of a rule-breaker. The power of love crept into their lives in a way they didn’t expect. They have found a way to serve and love God out of the love they have for one another and that’s a beautiful and unusual thing. They are renewing their promises to one another because it’s how they live their lives every day. They know that you and they are heirs, like the bent-over woman, to the blessings of God. God called you and them into ministry, love and caring together. They are going to lead you on into new adventures of caring for and loving your neighbour.
“No matter how you come to God, bent over or standing straight, old or young, God will help you to stand. If there’s any tiny bit of your life bending you over, making you tired or troubled, take some inspiration from the woman in the gospel and take some inspiration from these two to stand tall in your faith and proclaim your heritage as brothers and sisters in Christ, part of the family of God. All the woman in the Gospel had to do was be in the same place as Jesus. We are in the same place as Jesus,” Bishop Jane said.
Throughout the celebration service, the Lynch’s provided bluegrass worship music, strumming their guitars while backed by Coleen’s cousin LaVerne MacDonald and a chorus of cowboys and cowgirls (AKA St. Peter’s Choir). They led the congregation in Cowboy Church favourites like “I Saw the Light,” “There’s Power in the Blood,” “I’ll Fly Away” and “Will There Be Any Stars.”
After the service guests joined the jubilant couple, their daughter Karlene and son-in-law Miles, for a lovely reception where Coleen and Mike danced to the soundtrack of their love story. Upon entering the church hall each person was given a coral-coloured (coral is the traditional 35th wedding anniversary colour) bumblebee which had been lovingly knit for them by Coleen.