Five Precious Minutes


Hello All,

I think it's safe to say that the five minutes from 2:37 to 2:42 pm on Feb 4th, 2017, were among the most precious five minutes I've experienced as a father.

I listened intently. I was on the phone, downstairs in Richmond Hall. At the other end, Lamar Hochstetler presented the covenant vows to the couple standing in front of him--my first-born son, David, and his bride, Grace (Shank) from Aroda, VA. And then I heard my son say, "I will." When it was time for Grace to make her promise, a voice roared something across the prison PA system behind me, and I couldn't hear her response.

But I know her commitment to my son is as strong as life itself.

And then I heard Lamar pray with them.

Finally, I heard him say, "I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. David Miller!" and I imagined them sweeping down the aisle, all happy and radiant.

Then the group of singers came in with a glorious rendition of "You Shall Go Out with Joy." And about five seconds after the recessional song was over, my time expired and the phone call was over. (Here at Petersburg Low, you have to wait 45 minutes before you can place another call.)

I was so happy that the timing worked out perfectly.

Duane finished the message just at the right time.

And now I was so happy I was overcome with emotion.

To sort of get a hold of myself, I went back to the "cell house," an unused section of the prison where we have telephones and showers.

After a bit one of the officers came through the door on his rounds. He looked at me, "Miller, you ok?" I struggled to control my voice. "Yeah, I'm all right."

It was tough, missing the wedding of my dear son. (It was real tough also, to miss the wedding of our oldest daughter last June.)

But I decided since circumstances won't allow me to be at my son's wedding, we'll overcome the circumstances. So we had our own wedding reception down here at Petersburg Low in honor of David and Grace. It turned out to be a great celebration, a very uplifting time for all of us.

I admit, our guest list here was quite a bit smaller than at the wedding itself. There were only seven of us; about 450 guests came to the wedding.

We met over at the gym around 5:00. Steve, a good friend who's 6'8," strode over there from his unit ahead of everyone else and reserved two tables.

Karl and I cooked four pizzas on our steam radiators for over four hours in plastic bags. They turned out real well. We made a bean and cheese dip to serve with nacho chips. Ice cold Pepsi for drinks. For the wedding cake, Jay made an incredible double layered cheese cake in honor of this special occasion. He'd been extolling it for weeks. It didn't disappoint me. I brought along a big chocolate bar to send home with each my guests as part of the celebration.

The seven of us gathered around the table with me at the head. I propped up two pictures of David and Grace at the other end against the wall where I could look at them.

At the beginning, we had a little ceremony. This is what we did:

First, I read the from the teachings of Jesus on marriage. (Matthew 19:4-6)**

Then we declared our Creator's praise.

I said: (Rather loudly so others in the gym could also hear) "In an age where the Creator's UNALTERABLE design for marriage is being dishonored and scorned, we followers of Yeshua Messiah at FCC Petersburg Low, on this day, Feb 4th 2017, proclaim our Creator's goodness! We honor and celebrate marriage as Yahweh instituted it--ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN in a life-long covenant relationship."

(Since many of my friends around the table were of the Messianic Group, I used the Hebrew names for God.)

And then we did two toasts. (I hope this wasn't irreverent.)

We popped the tabs on the Pepsis!

I said, "Here's to Yahweh's design for marriage!"

And we clanked the Pepsi cans together and said "Halelu YAH!" And each took a sip of Pepsi.

I said, "Here's to David and Grace!"

And we clanked the Pepsi cans together and said "Halelu YAH!" And each took a sip of Pepsi.

And then dear Steve led the prayer. He's very thorough, great mind, great student of the Scriptures. And he prayed a very expansive prayer on Yahweh's design for marriage, for marriage around the world, and for David and Grace and their marriage. It was a good prayer, very comprehensive.

After the "Hallelujah," (the Messianic way of ending prayer) we dug in. As we ate I told my friends about my community's customs for courtship and marriage. They were rather amazed that at ages 24 and 25, David and Grace had kept themselves for each other.

I then read to them a meditation I had prepared for the wedding service.

After the meal we all went outside. Four of us paired off for horseshoes and we had a great competitive game.

Overall, I think the evening was the best experience in comradeship I've had since I've been in prison. Everyone enjoyed it immensely. And all my friends felt privileged to be allowed in on David and Grace's celebration.

In fact, Jay enjoyed it so much he asked me if another one of my sons or daughters is getting married soon. I had to tell him that (alas) nothing is on the horizon.

So, once again CONGRATULATIONS David and Grace. Thank you for giving us a picture of our Heavenly Father's design for courtship and marriage. You all truly are a blessing to all of us. I wish you a wonderful time together this next week.

Love and prayers,


**In this passage, Jesus dramatically confronts the social re-engineering of modern western society by giving an authoritative definition of marriage using three gender specific pairings: male/female, man/wife, father/mother. And then He adds a declaration that stands for all time: "What God has joined together, let not man put asunder."