October,2014 Holy Matrimony
Heather Elizabeth Koch and Todd David Lunn
First John 4; Mark 10
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. Heather and Todd, 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. What I know is in my heart and in all our hearts this afternoon, and Heather and Todd, I hope you will hear this with depth and sincerity: “this is going to be something special.” In the deep mysteries of his Providence, God is doing a great thing here. He has a great plan for your lives, only just now beginning to unfold in a new way.
Thank you especially for selecting this reading from the Tenth Chapter of St. Mark’s Gospel for us—truly a gift. Here at St. Andrew’s it is an especially familiar reading because of the beautiful—really the magnificent stained glass window over our high altar, created for us over 100 years ago by the famous artist Louis Comfort Tiffany. “Jesus and the Children.” We know the story. Jesus is preaching a sermon, when suddenly some families arrive. Families with kids—and I can’t help but look here at Shelby and Conor, as our Junior Bridesmaid and Junior Groomsman today. The disciples are acting I guess as ushers might act. Suggesting that they take the kids off to the Children’s Nursery. But Jesus overrules them. “Bring them to me!” So wonderful. And he takes them into his arms and gives them his special blessing. A tender and meaningful moment as we look into the heart of Jesus, the heart of God himself, to see the depth of his love. As in the reading from First John, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God.” Please know today the blessing of your marriage, your family, and the love of Jesus.
We say marriage 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. Beginning at home, and then moving outward in wider and wider circles.
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, a “vocational” moment, a moment of transformation, about a calling to a new way of life-- in a way kind of like this moment here today. In that story 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. That’s my point.
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 Heather and Todd: 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 is consecrated, and made holy. Not because of what you are saying, but because we believe, 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. 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 in the particulars. None of us do. But he is beginning to reveal them to you now, in this moment this afternoon.
And it’s a privilege for us to be here with you.
And now as Todd and Heather 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
her brought over from the heritage of Jewish practice o