Sunday, August 5, 2012

Holy Matrimony

Amanda Ruth Daly and Jeromy David Sivek

August 4, 2012

Jeromy and Amanda, what I want to say first to you, is thank you.  What a great day this is!  I extend of course a very warm summertime welcome to all on behalf of the people of St. Andrew’s Church.  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 has been fun for me to get to know you over these past few months of our preparation together for today

You are two remarkable young people: smart, funny, talented.   I probably am not going to be able to sustain a conversation for too long except in the most general way in the areas of mathematics or bio-engineering, but I know that you both have creative and interesting work and with a great deal to contribute in many ways in years to come.  With great families—as Jeromy’s parents are part of our life here at St. Andrew’s and in our Highland Park neighborhood, and Amanda it’s wonderful to be meeting your family now as well.   And this I know supporting and encouraging circle of friends. 

In any case, now here, this great day of your marriage.  Congratulations to you, as I know 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, and rich in blessing for you and for many others.  As it already is.

The first lesson that you selected, from the fifteenth chapter of St. John, is a wonderful and very appropriate reading for this day.  It reminds us that deep down our life as Christian people is a love song, through and through, an 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 intention for each one of us since the beginning of the world.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.  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.  And of course what on behalf of the Church this day we pray, not simply that you will continue and grow together in your love for one another, but that as you build your home and family and your life together from this day forward you will indeed abide in ever deeper and more meaningful way in the love of our heavenly Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

You know, in the Old Testament Book of Exodus, chapter 3, there is one of my favorite stories, about a moment of life-changing experience, what we would call a “vocational” moment, a moment of transformation-- in a way kind of like this moment.  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.

This is the moment when God tells Moses about his plan for his life, how from the day of his birth he has been shaped and prepared for the mission to lead God’s people out of slavery in Egypt and across the Wilderness and into the Promised Land.  God speaks into this world, into our lives, and what was an ordinary place is now made sacred by that holy word.  And Amanda, Jeromy: 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 here and now  is consecrated, and made holy.  Not because of what you are saying, but because we believe, and certainly why in our tradition of the Christian family we call marriage a sacrament, that God’s word is being spoken to you now. 

We can imagine that burning bush, right here, right now.  That God’s holy presence is with you, surrounding you, above you, and beneath your feet, with richness and blessing and purpose.  The prayers and blessings of this day don’t just happen in this one moment of your wedding, 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.   Abide in his love.  He has great plans for you, for each of you, and for you together as husband and wife and family.  That’s the great and wonderful thing we celebrate.  I don’t know what they are.  None of us do.  But he is beginning to reveal them to you now, in this moment this afternoon.

And so, Jeromy and Amanda, my and our prayer today: that like Moses, you would each continue to have eyes and ears and minds and hearts open to God’s word and presence and direction.  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” at the heart of your marriage, and I know there will be an abundance of blessing for you and for others for many years to come.

Again, thank you.  May God bless and keep you with joy all the days of your life together.  It’s going to be, and already is, a great story.  And now: friends, as Jeromy and Amanda  come forward to exchange the vows that will make them husband and wife, I would ask that we would all bow our heads for a moment and in our own words ask God’s care and blessing for them.

Bruce Robison

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