Mary Ellen Hayden and William Arthur Deckard
Maryellen and Art, what I want to say first to you, is thank you. It is for us all here this morning, and for me personally, a privilege and a joy to be sharing this moment 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! Congratulations to you, and with so many blessings upon you as you now step forward into this new chapter of your life.
Not to preach a long sermon, but to say that as I have known you both over these years, I have seen in you both so consistently such a gracious spirit. In your care and respect and friendship and affection for each other. And the way that moves through you to your family, and including these fabulous and wonderful grandchildren. A spirit of intelligence, and of honesty, and courage, and deep moral integrity. Care for others. A commitment to have your lives make a difference.
You have known what it is to struggle. And because of your faithfulness, because of your character, you have become incredibly strong people in and through it all. The relationship and home and family that you have made together, your lives and your work, are already a center of great blessing, and I know that as you are married today we celebrate all that you have meant to us and all that you have accomplished, and we give thanks to God for the good new things that he has in store for you and for all of us.
In the midst of this I’m reminded that in the Old Testament Book of Exodus there is one of my favorite Bible stories, about a moment of life-changing experience, a “vocational” moment, a 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.
Now, we don’t need to take that literally, and you can keep your shoes on, at least until we get outside on the lawn. But we would remember that in the vows and promises you make today, in God’s sight and with us here as your witnesses, 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. It’s all “holy ground.” Every place God’s place, every person God’s person. And that’s the gift of this moment. As a reminder for all of us. The prayers and blessings of this day don’t just happen here, in this one moment of a wedding, but they go out with you into your marriage and life together, and with all of us from this day forward, and will be I know especially for you, around you and under you and with you and all the days of your life. It’s all holy ground.