In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
We are gathered here in the presence of God and of this company of the friends of your souls. We come to do a couple of things before nightfall.
We come to Celebrate and Bless
I. We Come to Celebrate!
To Interpret, to make sense of … So we come to figure out, make sense of what the two of you have gotten yourselves into…Now as Christians we interpret with Christ in mind. So we make sense of your relationship, the promises you are about to make, because of the paradoxical mystery of Jesus the Christ, what he has done and what that means continually and forever. We come here to witness your vows because Jesus is present among us as he said, if 2 or 3 are gathered in his name – he will be revealed, discovered in their midst. Saint Thomas Aquinas once said that Jesus is principally experienced by a heightened awareness of mutual love and concern.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great German pastor, patriot and martyr to the Nazi terror, wrote a letter to his twin-sister on the day of her wedding. In it he said, “The love between her and husband was theirs and theirs alone, but their marriage belonged to the whole church, to the whole community. How you live into the vows you make this day affects us all for better, for worse… Also Bonhoeffer said in his letter, “That the love between her and her husband is does not keep their marriage going. No, the marriage is to keep their love going.”
With that in mind, today we come to make a container for your love. The reading from The Song of Solomon proclaims a peculiar and mysterious truth, “that love is a strong as death.” That of course is true – our love has a singular and spare beauty – but like a glass that when dropped often bounces – but if that same glass lands just so it shatters, and in that moment death is stronger than love. So we come to make a container for your love so that regardless of circumstance it will continue of service to your love. What are these circumstances that your love faces?
In the vows is embedded an ancient notion called the Wheel of Fortune. The notion being that life is lived on a wheel that moves up and down and around as life moves inexorably into the future. For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health: what? To love and cherish until you are parted by death! Now your marriage is to be lived not on the outside of the wheel to be crushed by the wheel as it moves inexorably into the future and beyond; no live your marriage at hub of the wheel so it turns in your center, the holy place where Jesus is discovered: for he is the lynch-pin in the hub.
Now here we are all dressed up in our finest clothes and also our impeccable denial, and we will key on the words better, richer and health – and ignore all those other words. But anyone who is married more than 15 minutes knows that plenty of all it will come upon you. We come to celebrate.
II. We also come to bless you.
Sacrament: outward sign of inner and spiritual grace; Water/Baptism; Bread and Wine/Communion and for marriage holding hands (right hands in this case). These very material and human scaled things are filled with divine content – bread/wine – bread of heaven – cup of salvation = filled with divine content. Holding hands and giving receiving of rings – filled with holy energy to get out bed day after day to be married.
And we come to make our prayer that for better, for worse…in this world to be adorned with all Spiritual Grace and in the world to come, life and that life Everlasting.