sermon, cousin Becky’s wedding in Chicago, March 2006

+In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit+

Please pray with me:
O Lord, except I see thee I am blind, except I follow
thee I am lame, except I love thee I am lost. May the
words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be
always acceptable in thy sight, O lord our strength
and our salvation.

My friends in Christ, when Becky first approached me about officiating at this wedding I accepted that honor with happiness and humility. My only caveat to her was that, as an Episcopal clergyman, I was bound by the laws of my church to use the marriage rite from our Book of Common Prayer. I sent her a copy of the service annotated with my notes and comments. One of the responsibilities Becky and Eric had was to choose the three Scripture lessons for this service. Our Payer Book suggests four readings each from the Old Testament, Epistles and Gospels.

Becky sent me an email with the readings that she and Eric had selected. When I saw their choices I said out loud, “How cool is that!” Let me explain…

Some of the reading choices speak of love in lofty and glowing terms. Others are much simpler and almost generic…you hear them at every wedding you go to across denominational lines. Becky and Eric chose the most mature readings…readings that express an understanding of the love and the responsibilities that come with living their lives together…and living that life with Christ as a constant presence. They are to be commended for such an understanding of love…that sort of Christ conscience that Becky and Eric have comes from a personal relationship with God as well as the examples their families have set for them. Becky and Eric, I’m sure your folks will agree with me when I say, “Thank you for paying attention…”

We gather here today from near and far to be witnesses as Becky and Eric marry each other. March 10th will be the day of the anniversary of their wedding. Today is also the anniversary of Becky’s Grandpa Fred Kilian’s birthday. Fred was my uncle and my Godfather. I loved Fred and I have to be honest…I believe in the communion of saints and I know in my heart that Becky’s Grandpa Fred, and all of Becky and Eric’s family who have gone on before them to be with God, are also present here with us. So I have to say, “Fred, if you can here me, I was the one who lit the fireworks that slowly rolled along the hood of your new car all those years ago. It wasn’t Steve or Matt or Oliver.”

We’re here today to celebrate one of the seven sacraments of the church. A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. A sacrament should be a reminder to all of us that there is absolutely nothing any of us can do that will ever make God love us any less. The love of God is so wide and wild, and we can’t ever get to the depths of it or the ends of it. It’s like herding cats…we can’t ever pin it down. So we set aside some people whose main job is to show a slice…some glimpse, of an aspect of God’s love. One of the ways we do that is through the sacrament of marriage.
When people get married I like to remind them that this whole marriage thing isn’t just about them. Marriage is a gift to Becky and Eric, as well as a gift to the Church, and as well as a gift to those around Becky and Eric. Marriage is a sacrament because it’s an outward and visible sign of God’s love; people should be able to look at Becky and Eric and say, “Oh, that’s what love is supposed to look like. That’s how God loves me.”

The rest of us are witnesses. The first rubric, or instruction, in our wedding service reads: “At the time appointed, the persons to be married, with their witnesses, assemble in the church or some other appropriate place.” This instruction doesn’t mention the ministers, the wedding party, the families…all it mentions are the persons to be married and the witnesses. What does this mean for us as witnesses? As witnesses, we are here to support Becky and Eric in their marriage in all ways and for always. If you are here for any other reasons…the party and food afterwards…the social aspect of this event…a chance to catch up with old friends…you are here for the wrong reasons! There’s the door…

For those of us who choose to stay to witness, now is my opportunity to speak for them. Becky and Eric, please stand.
In a short time you will exchange vows and begin your life together as husband and wife. Whatever happens to you, we, as your witnesses, will be there for you. We will walk with you. We will talk with you. We will love you and we will pray with you. We will laugh with you…and we will cry with you. We will dance with you and there will be times when we will carry you. That is our solemn vow to you.

Becky and Eric: The ever-present Christ is here to bless you. The closer you keep him, the closer you will be to one another. AMEN


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