December 16, 2006

Wedding

Today I'm preaching my first wedding. I don't feel like I know what I'm doing, but here's the homily I came up with:

Good afternoon everyone, especially you, bride and groom and your parents, greetings to all in the Lord. Thank you especially for the invitation to preach on this happy day.

Just to introduce myself, I’m a Franciscan friar, originally from this area, and I had the privilege of being a co-worker of the bride for a few years before I went into the monastery. So my invitation is based on that, rather than on any reputation as a preacher.

Nevertheless, this bride and groom have made my job very easy by the readings from Sacred Scripture they have selected. We have Paul’s boast that nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ from the Letter to the Romans, and his great hymn to love from the 1st Letter to the Corinthians. So it’s all about love, and really, what else is there to preach about?

We call this book [the Bible] the Word of God. The 1st Letter of John tells us that “God is love.” Now if God is love, and nothing but love, mind you, what can the Word of God be but the word “I love you”?

Indeed, the “I love you” that God speaks is powerful and effective. In fact, it is the force of creation itself.

Think back to the creation of the world. Even if you don’t spend a lot of time in church, I’m sure that you’ve heard the story. In the beginning, God said, “let there be light!” And there was light. And God said, “Let the seas be gathered into a basin so that the dry land may appear!” And so it happened. In the same way, by speaking forth his Word, God creates everything else, including you and me. By breathing forth the first and original “I love you” God brings us and everything else into being.

When God says “I love you,” we exist. We happen. When God says “I love you,” the world happens. Love makes the world, and love is what we are made out of. In the most literal terms you can imagine, love is what it’s all about.

Now I want to tell you a secret. The “I love you” that passes between the bride and groom today, of which we are all joyful witnesses, is the same “I love you,” the same Word of God through which the world was created. Yes, perhaps on smaller terms, but the same “I love you” nonetheless.

Do you find this far-fetched? Look, then, at how powerful and creative their “I love you” has been today! It has created this joyful celebration; it has brought us all together in this lovely church. Even more, their love has put joy in each of our hearts.

Go ahead everyone, notice the joy inside you right now, feel it, enjoy it. That joy we feel in our hearts today is the creation of their love for each other, and it is ours to rejoice in. Even more, this joy that their love has put in our hearts and into this congregation today, it’s a glimpse of the very face of God.

There are a lot of people in the world who want to tell you what God thinks or what God expects of you, but the joy that you feel when you contemplate what the bride and groom are doing today, that’s the real thing, a glimpse of God himself.

So thank you, you two. In your courage to make public, in this wedding, the “I love you” that passes between you, you give us all a chance to see the face of God, to see the mysterious Source that is behind it all.

Well, so much for praising you. Perhaps all of you wouldn’t think me a proper preacher if I didn’t also tell you to do something. And so I will.

Bride and groom, on your wedding day, I give you two tasks. First, be grateful for and to one another. Be grateful for all of the risks and efforts in your relationship that have paid off in the joy of this day. And be grateful for all of the risk and struggle and joy you have to look forward to in the future. It is all the fruit of the love of God that has taken root in your hearts.

Second, cherish the gift of God you have received. It is the greatest thing in the world. It is the only thing that matters in the world, and the only thing worthy of human striving or interest. In your hearts is the love that will save the world. It is the love that is stronger than death, as we heard about from St. Paul.

Go to the most miserable place in the world, where there is the most horrible human suffering, and you will still see people falling in love with each other. Nobody can stop it. It’s the most powerful and unstoppable thing in the world, this love that we fall into. It’s the greatest power there is, it’s the power that will save the world, and it’s all yours. Cherish it with all reverence, today and forever.

And to the rest of us, family, friends, children, ministers and well-wishers of all kinds, I give the same two tasks, to be grateful and to cherish. First, be grateful to your friends who are married today. Be grateful for the joy they have put in your hearts today. Not only are they showing you the love that will save the world, they are revealing the very face of God to you. They are making their lives into an example of the first truth of faith: that love will save the world, that love is stronger than meaninglessness and death. By their courage and inspiration to make this commitment today, they are demonstrating the life of faith to you. So be grateful to them, and tell them so.

And cherish them. As you go forth from this day, friends and family, care for and treat their marriage as something precious. Have reverence for it. Visit them, support them, continue to be their friends and loved ones. And if one of them needs a shoulder to cry on, be there for them. This marriage is the precious possession of all of you; take care of it!

St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of my Order, had a special greeting. He used to say, “Pax et Bonum,” “Peace and good!” And I want to wish you that same peace and good today.

And so, bride and groom, thank you. Thank you for showing us your faith in the goodness and trustworthiness of God’s creation. You trust in the truth of true love enough to risk and rejoice in the marriage you make with each other today. In your love, you give us a chance to see the true peace and goodness that is the destiny and meaning of the whole world.

I wish you every blessing, all peace, and every good thing as you begin this newness in your life together, now and forever. Amen.

2 comments:

Steph Bachman said...

I think it is lovely. Good job.

Barb, sfo said...

You definitely know what you're doing. :)