PROPERS: HOLY MATRIMONY
TEXT: JOHN 15:9-12
PREACHED AT BLESSING OF THE MARRIAGE OF SUSAN SMITH AND DICK SMITH AT TRINITY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, FLORENCE, ALABAMA, ON SATURDAY, JANUARY 25, 2020.
ONE SENTENCE: The message of this moment is essentially simple – love one another as God loves us.
What a blessing and honor it is for each of us to be here today. Susan and Dick, we celebrate with you on this day which highlights true joy.
It is so tempting for the preacher to approach this moment and to feel compelled to say something that is profound, insightful, or deeply thought-provoking.
That is not my task. I promised Susan this would not be a stem-winder. After all, no one came here to see the priest preach.
The core message of this moment is really very simple. We hear it in Jesus words from the gospel lesson:
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
These are John’s recollection of Jesus’ words. They express something we have heard so many times that they have become all-too-familiar. But they remind us of the sacramental nature of this moment. In other words, this time together – the recognition and blessing of Susan and Dick’s marriage -- is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.
First, Jesus tells us that God loves us. This is the love of a tender and merciful God, not an angry and vengeful God. This is God that encourages us to cobble together joy and meaning out of the most challenging of circumstances. His love is to give meaning to life – to transform the pain of the cross to the unspeakable joy of an empty tomb.
Then, God goes one step further. He tells us to love one another. We are to represent God’s love in our relationships with others. Notice – we are not to tolerate others, or to suffer fools gladly. We are to love one another as God loves us.
That loves reaches its apex in a moment such as this – when Susan and Dick embark on a journey of love together. Their love is founded in the love which they experience – whether they are aware of it or not at a particular moment – in the bonds of matrimony.
As they live into the promises they make here – with us as witnesses – they emulate the love that Jesus shows to his followers and the entire world. By that love, they evidence a sign of hope so yearned for in this world.