This is a homily I wrote for the first wedding I performed (it was a good friend from college). With my nervousness around "pastoral performance", I completely choked in delivery (manuscripts are not my preferred method of delivery), but the words are good and are a reminder about the purposes of marriage that transcend my need to be "happy."
The wedding was at Hungry Mother State Park in Southwest VA. I'm not sure who the 'hungry mother' is exactly, but Virginia has some of the finest state parks in the nation. Worth a visit if you are the car camping type.
Jeff and his wife (on the left next to me and the fam) are now living in KC, MO where Jeff works for the Ronald McDonald House of KC and Lynn attends St. Paul's School of Theology (UMC).
Photos from the wedding can be viewed here.
"These three remain. Faith, Hope and Love. The greatest of these is love."
You both know that you are part of that great stream of love known as the Kingdom of God. You’ve both signified your entry into it by way of your baptism. It has its grip on you and won’t let you go. It has, as you know, immense dimensions and expansive reach—it is as wide as the universe. There is no place, the Psalmist tells us, where this love does not influence and from which we are safe. You cannot escape the love of God. No one is safe from it. This, I think, the basic message of Jesus. “After everything is over, Love will remain.” So it’s a great stream of which you are a part.
But you are entering new dimensions of it today. Through your marriage to each other, you will measure, explore, face, encounter—and if you are willing—embrace new dimensions of the love of God. The mysterious picture we are given in the New Testament of the love of God in Christ for us is that of marriage. A husband and wife together in complete unity—emotional, physical, mental, psychological—mirrors the love Christ has for his bride, the church. It’s a wonderful picture of the ability of love to unite. And it’s into this mystery you are entering today.
A man is given to a woman and a woman to a man for holy purposes. That is, and I charge you to remember this, God has given you to each other to accomplish his purposes, namely to sanctify you.
To sanctify. Sanctus facer – to make holy. To make whole, good, complete, right, just, full of peace. You aren’t fully those things yet, but you are pledging today to allow God to bring those things to pass through your relationship to each other, to allow your relationship to be a means of grace to each other.
As all married people here today know, You will confront what is not holy—not whole, not complete, not right, not just, not full of peace—both in the other person and yourself. You will confront what is broken, bad, unfair, fractured…unbrushed, unwashed—both in the other person and yourself. But I pray that God will give you grace in that moment to realize that it is the moment of your sanctification. That it is the means God has ordained for your own completion, your own shalom. God is making you holy through a surrender to the work of the Spirit in recreating what you encounter as uncreated in the other and yourself.
That is the moment, by God’s grace, to remember that the greatest of these is love. Faith and hope will someday be realized—we’ll be done with them someday, they’ll be as useless as buggy whips and butter churns. But Love, Love will remain. So it is that Love you are giving yourselves to today. Trust Its dimensions, trust Its depths, trust Its embrace. There is enough for you when you overwhelmed with what is not love in you. There is enough for you to renew and reorder your heart. There is enough for you to be transformed into greater and greater dimensions of glory. Those new dimensions will be scary, but they are holy. You are to each other, a means to grow in love. So remember the counsel of John of the Cross: “in the evening of life, you shall be judged on love.”