(My last act as Interim Associate Pastor at Y1P is to officiate at a wedding, off-campus, this afternoon. I must admit that I usually lean heavily on old homilies…but this time I wrote something from scratch.)
Things go awry.
You can almost rely on it. Life is going along smoothly, as
beautiful as this gorgeous day, this lovely bride, this kind-hearted groom.
That’s what we want for you, the smooth ride, the good weather, the supportive
friends, the expansive blessings of providence showered upon you.
But the vows you will make to one another are for other
They are moments away, these holy and heavy words that will
bind you, making two people into one marriage.
The apostle Paul wrote to young communities of faith, not to
young couples, but he expressed himself in ways that we bring to weddings
because the words are not romantic but holistic. They prepare us for the times
when things are less fabulous, more earthly, not-so-divine and fully human.
We read the words from scripture and exchange the historic
vows knowing that we are not alone in finding commitment challenging, knowing
that like so many other people all we can do is the best we can do, knowing
that we are standing on the shore of the great, glad river of God’s Love, a
river we will need to visit to draw a cup of kindness, a bucket of compassion,
a pool full of forgiveness when the moment calls for it.
You’ll need them when things go awry, these thoughtfully
crafted and poetically expressed promises, more grittily summed up this way.
You promise to be there for each other not just through highs, but through
lows, not only when it’s easy, but when it’s hard. You promise to forgive each
other not just for locking the keys in the car or forgetting an anniversary,
but for being fallible and broken human beings who will surely make worse
mistakes and say the wrong things and turn out to be somewhat different from the
people you believe yourselves to be today.
You will receive many gifts, beautiful things you will appreciate and for which you will write many thank you notes, no doubt! But the real treasures are the promises you give each other today, word gems
that give you a place to look for help and encouragement no matter what the
future brings. It’s my prayer that you will remember these things when you need
them, and be blessed by having said them to each other.