Emily Rene Hasse and Adam Daniel Giardina
Emily Renee Hasse and Adam Daniel Giardina
Song of Solomon 2:10-13, 8:6-7; Ephesians 5: 1-2, 21-33
Adam and Emily, what I want to say first to you, and I know I’m speaking for all the family and friends gathered here this afternoon in this wonderful setting, is thank you. It is for us all, and for me personally, a privilege and a joy to be sharing today with you, to be with you 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!
You and we have been thinking about it and planning, 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, of course--as I know this season of your friendship and deepening relationship has 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 first lesson that you selected, from the Old Testament book of the Song of Solomon, is a wonderful and very appropriate reading for this day. It is a love song, 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, this moment like a window, through which we begin to see God’s hope and dream for each one of us since the creation 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.
It is a beautiful poem, a beautiful image, for this beautiful day, and, 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 with care will last for a lifetime.
You know, in the Old Testament Book of Exodus there is one of my favorite stories, about a moment of life-changing experience, a “vocational” moment, life changing, transformational moment-- in a way kind of like a wedding. Young Moses is working for his Father in Law, tending his sheep out in the wilderness, and one day he sees something off in the distance that looks strange to him. He moves closer and finally comes to this great big tree or bush that is on fire, fully engulfed in flames, burning and burning—but no matter how long it burns, it doesn’t burn out. He watches for a while, amazed at the sight, and then all at once a great, deep voice comes from the flame.
(I like to think it was the voice of James Earl Jones.) “Take off your shoes, Moses, for the ground on which you are standing is holy ground.” Holy Ground.
In that moment, in his encounter with God at the Burning Bush, Moses comes to understand his destiny—and all the great story of the Exodus, and God’s plan for his Chosen People, is now to be the story and meaning of his life. A turning point, and a new beginning. The ground on which you are standing is holy ground.
Now, Emily and Adam, we don’t need to take that literally, and you can keep your shoes on. But we would remember even so that in the vows and promises you make today, in God’s sight and in the presence of these friends and family members, the ground under your feet is consecrated, and made holy. That God’s holy presence is with you, surrounding you, above you, and beneath your feet, with richness and blessing. The prayers and blessings of this day don’t just happen here, in this one moment of a wedding in Jennerstown, Pennsylvania, but they go out with you into your marriage and life together, from this day forward, and will be around you and under you and with you all the days of your life--wherever your life takes you, holy ground. God had great plans for Moses—and today, this afternoon, he has great plans in mind for you.
And it is my and our best prayer for you that in God’s love you will continue to experience his love and his blessing always, and that your life together will be a catalyst, an inspiration, for that sense of God’s goodness to be known by others. That you will be blessed, and that you will be a blessing.
May God bless and keep you in this new life that you begin today, and with joy and peace in all the days ahead.
Now as Adam and Emily exchange the vows that will make them husband and wife, I would ask all of us first 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.