Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holy Matrimony

Linda Devlin West and Frank Klavon

Linda and Frank: what a wonderful day! I would begin this afternoon simply by expressing my appreciation, and I know this is on behalf of all the family and friends here today. It’s an honor and a privilege and a joy to be here to stand with you as you exchange the vows that will be make you husband and wife. And certainly I know that the memory of this day will be for all of us, as it will be for you, a gift of great blessing.

As we were looking over the Church Calendar a few weeks ago someone said, “Wednesday is an unusual day for a wedding.” And it is true that it is unusual. But this Wednesday in particular seems to me to be quite appropriate, here in Christmas Week, with all the beauty of the season still around us. We think about Christmas as a Feast of the Holy Family, as for the first time we glimpse Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus all together there in the stable. And it is as a family we gather this afternoon, and as by your vows all the richness of your relationship is now lifted up into a new level of meaning, as your two families are today made one family.

I also have been thinking how appropriate and fun it is that in the Christmas Carol today, December 29, the Fifth Day of Christmas, as associated with this great gift, “Five Golden Rings!” To add to four Calling Birds, three French Hens, two Turtledoves, and the Partridge in the Pear Tree. The Fifth Day of Christmas, and this big and extravagant gift. Precious gold and jewelry. And on this Fifth Day of Christmas, we come here to witness the exchange of vows that make you husband and wife, and to witness the giving and receiving of rings.

In the old Anglican Prayer Books the words that the groom would speak to the bridge at the giving of the ring were meaningful and memorable in a deeply poetic way: “With this ring I thee wed; with my body I thee worship; and with all my worldly goods I thee endow.”

The giving of rings with the vows of marriage will represent for us in a symbolic way the totality of the gift that you make today, one to the other. “What’s mine is yours.” “My life now is in your hands.” A gift freely given, of vulnerability, and so of trust. And we think today about what it means to give that gift to another. And what it means to be given that gift. A sense of such profound stewardship, and responsibility.

This gift is of course at the heart of the sacramental miracle of Christmas. As God allows himself to become weak, vulnerable. To be born in a stable, to lie in the manger bed, to depend on his Mother, on his new human family. And this gift is what inspires us to call Holy Matrimony a sacrament. Because in it, in what you two promise today and in the life you share, we are privileged to catch a glimpse of what it means to say that “God so loved the world.”

And so, blessings to you today. Merry Christmas. Joy in the New Year. And joy and peace and happiness and abundant blessings in your life together.

Bruce Robison

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