Pamela Virginia Bieranoski and Matthew John Derby
Matt and Pam: what a great day! There was snow on the ground when we began planning. And now the warm days of midsummer have arrived. And I do want to say for myself personally and I know for all those who are participating today and sharing the day as witnesses, a congregation of family and friends—thank you. Thank you for what is the honor, truly, to be a part of this. And thank you also and even more for being the people that you are. Two gifted young people of intelligence and good humor and wonderful friendship, sharing a kind and gentle spirit, gracious and engaging. Thank you for being the people that you are—and for finding each other! Which is certainly a great pleasure and a blessing for all of us. It is great to know you each as individuals, and even more wonderful to know you together.
It is fun, very enjoyable, as two people get married, to celebrate who you are and what you are for each other—and that is of course very appropriate. To be thankful for the joy that you bring to one another, for love and romance, for the sense of happiness which touches your lives now and which I and we all pray will continue all the days to come.
But I do want to say in the midst of that celebration, simply to point out, that we hear in the language of this service of Holy Matrimony, in the prayers we pray together, in the solemn vows you will exchange, in the words of Holy Scripture, in this great offering of sacred music which you and Peter and Alastair and the Schola have prepared for us, a high seriousness--and it is important just for this moment to take a breath and to recognize that in this moment you two are undertaking what can only be described as an awesome responsibility.
Sometimes at weddings I like to tell the story of Moses in the Wilderness, as he comes to the Burning Bush, and as the great voice booms out, “Take off your shoes, Moses, take off your shoes: for the ground on which you stand is holy ground.” And I say, we should all take off our shoes. B
ecause this is just like that moment for Moses: a turning point, a new beginning. Moses is called to a new vocation, to assume responsibility as God’s Agent, to be the one through whom God will work to accomplish his purposes. And that’s what this moment is for you, and for all of us here today. A moment of new vocation, Matt and Pam, to assume responsibility, to be a new person, husband and wife, through whom God will work. Which is why we call marriage a sacrament. Beginning now, and then continuing this evening and tomorrow and in all the years to come. In ways we can’t even begin to imagine.
In the story of Creation in the first chapter of Genesis we read, “Then God said, “let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sear, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward, spiritual grace. The image of God. Which is what now you are for us. The active present-time manifestation of Christ in the world. And as husband and wife, you become sacrament. You become a visible sign of God’s presence.
He is doing now and is going to do great and wonderful things in your life together and through your life together, to bless others, to forgive, to heal, to renew. It will be a great adventure, as he works in you and through you. Fun sometimes, sometimes challenging. But in it all, a calling, a high and serious vocation: and one I truly believe you have already begun, and that you will continue in a wonderful spirit all the days of your life.
And now friends, as Matt and Pam come forward to exchange the vows that will make them husband and wife, may we all pause in a moment of prayer for them, and may be open our own lives at this moment that we also may share in this time of God’s richest blessing.