Saturday, November 12, 2011

November 12, 2011

Holy Matrimony
Jessica Lynn Spaid and Timothy Edward Schweinberg
Canticles 2:10-13, 8:6-7; I Corinthians 13

Tim and Jessica, 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 while now, and when we started this date seemed a ways away—but now, time has flown by, and here we are. Congratulations to you, as I know the 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, first from the Old Testament book of Canticles, or the Song of Solomon, and then from St. Paul, First Corinthians 13, are wonderful and very appropriate readings for this day. The Song of Solomon 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.

And First Corinthians 13, a letter St. Paul wrote to a Church whose members seem to have fallen into disunity, has become for generation after generation a kind of guide, or even we might say a recipe, for Christian living. It expresses a deep set of values rooted in the way Jesus lived his life. And it is meaningful for us in our Church life and public life together, and all our personal conduct, but then more intimately in our marriages and families. Patience. Kindness. Not envious or arrogant. Not resentful. But grounded in honesty and trust and a spirit of hopefulness. So wonderful to bring these forward on the day you begin your marriage.

Within the life of the Christian family we say that this day is for you a day of sacrament and vocation. A day when God begins to make something new out of you which is and will become an outward and visible sign of his grace and his love. And to be that, for each other, and for those who will be a part of your lives in the days and years to come, is a very high calling indeed.

In the Old Testament Book of Exodus there is one of my favorite stories, about a moment of life-changing experience, a “vocational” 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

We don’t actually have to take off our shoes here this afternoon. But I want to say that we might do so at least in our imaginations for a moment. Because the great reality here is that just as Moses at the Burning Bush came into the presence of God and discovered what the call on his life was that God had in mind for him, so here, for you. It was the beginning of a new chapter for Moses. A chapter in which he would play a key role in fulfilling the great plan that God had for his people. And so here, for you. “Take off your shoes. For the ground on which you are standing is holy ground.” May you know and experience that reality this afternoon, in this place, and in all the days you will share together in the years to come.

Friends, as Jessica and Tim now come forward to the altar to exchange the vows that will make them husband and wife, I would ask that we would all take a moment to bow our heads and in our thoughts and prayers ask God to bless and keep them always in his love.

Bruce Robison

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