October 4, 2014
Anneliese Morgan Becker and Daniel John King
Genesis 1:26-28, 31; First Corinthians 13: 1-13; Matthew 5: 1-12
Wow. Good afternoon everyone! Family and friends . . . . It is so great to be here today, as we are witnesses and participants in this wonderful celebration of Christian marriage. Anneliese and Dan, I would simply personally and I know speaking for everyone here today, and with truly a full heart, express my and our deepest thanks for including us, for inviting us to be with you as this new page is turned, a new chapter begun. The three of us, and actually with William the four of us, as he was such an active participant in our conversations, have been preparing for this day for some time, with meaningful conversations—and it has certainly been my pleasure to get to know you at this special time of your lives.
Your family and friends stand with you here, as this page turns, a new step in your relationship, your family. We come together, and we can’t help but think, “this is, and this is going to be, something special.” In the deep mysteries of his Providence, God is doing a great thing. He has a great plan for your lives, only just now beginning to unfold.
You both spent some time and gave careful thought to the selection of the readings from Scripture to be read and shared at this service, and it was a gift for all of us to hear them. The reading from Genesis underscores the affirmation that I announced in the Opening Address of this service: “The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation.” A reminder that marriage isn’t something we create or invent. We “enter into” marriage, which is something deep and enduring, and a part of God’s plan for the human family. And the reading from St. Matthew reminds us this afternoon that this particular marriage is being entered into today in the context of a larger frame of reference of Christian life and discipleship and stewardship. It’s not a thing to “have,” but a life to live, and a work to do. A vocation.
I want to pause just a moment over the familiar passage in the second reading--from St. Paul’s letter to the new Christians of a small congregation in the Greek town of Corinth. It’s a congregation that Paul was instrumental in founding and clearly a group of people who were dear to him, much loved. We don’t know everything about the context of this particular letter, but apparently word had come to him that there were some disputes and controversies—social, spiritual, theological, that had begun to cause conflict and division in the congregation.
Through the whole letter Paul addresses the issues at hand, but then in the Thirteenth Chapter he goes on to talk about Christian life and conduct in community, to describe what it means to live together as Christian people, even when there are serious differences. As there are always differences, whether in a large community, or even we might say in a community of two.
Paul offers a kind of recipe, a model, a roadmap, a broad-brushstroke picture of the deeper themes of what we are and what we can be at our very best in Christian relationship. How we are called to live by sharing in the image of Jesus himself, by patterning ourselves in love following the love that he shared with us. Love is patient; kind; not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It doesn’t insist on its own way. Not irritable. Doesn’t hold on to resentments. It doesn’t find joy when another is hurt, but rejoices when good triumphs. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Thank you especially for selecting this reading for us—truly a gift. We can’t hear this word too often. A great recipe for Paul as he addresses problems in the early church, but always also a recipe for all of us to keep close, in our friendships, in our families and communities, and meaningful that you have shared it with us today on the day of your marriage. We might almost say that sharing this reading with your family and friends is the first step, the first example, of the work you are being called to do in your marriage from here on out. We say this is a “sacrament” because in marriage you two become outward signs of God’s grace and love. He is going to be using you to communicate his love to others, and that is the work you are called to do and that we acknowledge and celebrate today.
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. God has great plans for you, for each of you, and for you together as husband and wife, for William, as we know him already to be such a great person and presence in our lives, and for all your family. That’s the great and wonderful thing we celebrate. I don’t know what they are in the particulars. None of us do. The future is held for us in the heart of our loving God. But he is beginning to reveal them to you and to us now, in this moment this afternoon.
And it’s a privilege for us to be here with you.
And now as Dan and Anneliese prepare to exchange the vows that will make them husband and wife, let us pause for a moment and bow our heads and in the quiet of our own hearts offer a prayer of love and blessing for them—that they will be surrounded and embraced by love and blessing all the days of their lives.
The Rev. Bruce M. Robison, D. Min.
Rector, St. Andrew’s Church, Highland Park
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