January 5, 2008 Holy Matrimony
Mary Elizabeth Perrier and Michael James Rayburg
Canticles 2:10-13, 8:6-7
Mike and Beth, what I want to say first to you, and I know I’m speaking for all the family and friends gathered here this afternoon, is thank you. It is for us all, and for me personally, a privilege and a joy to be sharing this moment with you, to be with you as witnesses and as supporters and cheering fans as you exchange the vows and promises, the words, and the commitments of the heart, that will make you one in Christ, as husband and wife. It’s a great day! We’ve been thinking about it and planning for it and involved in all kinds of preparation for a long time, and when we started this date seemed a long way off—but now, time has flown by, and here we are. Congratulations to you, as I know these years of your friendship and deepening relationship have been rich in so many ways, and as I know that the story that is yet to be told of the life and family you will share as husband and wife will be a great one.
The lesson that you selected, from the Old Testament book of Canticles, or the Song of Solomon, is a wonderful and very appropriate reading for this day. It is a love song, through and through, a poetic expression of the deepest passion and compassion of the human heart, as we know that in our deepest and most intimate relationships, and as we would understand through that, that we are for at least a brief moment in this world catching a glimpse of the deep love, the passion and the compassion, that is at the heart of God’s life, and that we are all ultimately destined for. This day, the commitments you bring, the words and promises, speak about who you are today, and also about who we are all destined to become, God’s hope and dream for each one of us since the beginning of the world.
Many waters cannot quench love, no flood can sweep it away; if a man were to offer for love the whole wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned. The rarest thing of all, the most precious, the most fragile, the hardest to find and the easiest to lose, yet somehow also the most durable, the most patient, the most forgiving, the most welcoming. The mystery of a relationship that begins in a club listening to music and that evolves into friendship and then into love.
Today is actually the 12th day of Christmas, as in the old song, the last day of a season that we experience in so many ways, but so often with the theme of the sharing of gifts. And this new year, as you turn to this new chapter of our lives, I would simply offer the thought that the gift of this moment is one that doesn’t ever need to wear out or to be exchanged. It’s the best gift of all, the richest of all blessings, and can last for a lifetime. May God bless and keep you in this new year, and in this new life that you begin today, and with joy and peace in all the days ahead.
Now as Mike and Beth come forward to exchange the vows that will make them husband and wife, I would ask all of us to bow our heads for a moment to offer a prayer for them, for their protection and their blessing, their joy, in all that God has for them in the days and years ahead.