May 31, 2008 Holy Matrimony
Jennifer Lynn Duca and Brandon Pearce Cooper
Tobit 8: 5-8; I Corinthians 13: 1-13
Brandon and Jennifer: wow, what a great day! After so much preparation, good thought, anticipation—here we are! And in this great space, the Thiel College Chapel. I know being on this campus is very much a kind of homecoming for you both. It’s a privilege for me to be here with you in celebration of this day, and I know I speak for all the family and friends as well. An honor, and a great joy.
Thank you for the gift of the invitation—and most of all, thank you for the graciousness of your friendship and love, for the spirit and dedication and commitment and care that rests under all that we do and say this afternoon. For me personally it has been a pleasure to begin a friendship with you over these past months, and as pastor and priest and friend I want you to know how deeply impressed I am with you, individually and together as a couple. With your maturity, your openness, your seriousness, and your good humor and playfulness. Your generosity and your kindness. There is an abundant blessing in the celebration of this sacrament of marriage, and it is a blessing that has already taken root and begun to grow and show itself in you.
Of course, for all of us, our prayer is that this blessing will continue all the days of your life, in joy and prosperity and peace. But knowing also that in all the days, sunny days and stormy days, you are building your lives on a strong foundation--the foundation of your commitment to one another, and, more importantly and crucially, on your commitment to grow day by day in relationship to God through Jesus Christ. There is a great richness in that, and I know that as you grow together in love and deeper in your faith, God is doing a good thing, a great thing, in you.
I love the readings you selected for the service. The reading from Tobit, with its picture of a marriage shaped by tenderness and a sense of being enfolded and embraced in God’s loving presence. Very wonderful indeed.
And even more, I think, the reading from Paul, in I Corinthians. A reading very familiar to us, one of the great literary moments and spiritual moments in all of scripture, this 13th chapter. Yet I think every time I read it or hear it, there is something fresh about it, something new—which is of course a sign of its depth and its greatness. Love, and just to hear this with open ears and open hearts today: patient and kind, not jealous or boastful or arrogant or rude, not insisting on its own way, not irritable or resentful (and there are inevitably so many opportunities for irritation and resentment in every relationship between members of the human family), not rejoicing in wrong things, but in what is right and true and good, bearing all things, believing, trusting, hoping, enduring. And never ending.
What a vision that is, for marriage, for life, for our long and sometimes hard process of becoming even in such a limited and imperfect way who God had in mind when he saw us in that first moment of creation. At our best, our most creative, our most joyful and fulfilled.
Brandon and Jennifer: you have made such a good beginning, as we come to this holy place this afternoon. And my hope and prayer, again, and for all of us, that the good work that God has begun in you will continue and will flourish, abundantly, all the days of your life. With compassion and affection and good humor and friendship, the sharing of your life story together—two stories intermingling and becoming one great story, beginning today. May God truly bless and keep you, today and every day.
Now friends, as Brandon and Jennifer prepare to say to each other the promises that will make them husband and wife, I would ask that we would all pause for a moment in quietness, and each of us in our own way hold them for this moment in our deepest thoughts and prayers.