A Sermon for the Wedding of Jacob and Amanda,
Sunday, October 23. Preached at All Saints, King City, Anglican Diocese of Toronto.
what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mk 10.9).
When an engaging young couple called Jacob and
Amanda approached me about helping them with their wedding, I jumped at the
chance. Even before Covid, it seemed
an increasingly rare thing now for young adults to seek a wedding in a church
and in the Christian tradition. In my
conversations with Jacob and Amanda before today, we talked about both the
beauty of marriage as its defined in the language of today’s service, and the
seriousness of this high calling that these two will enter into today, in your
sight and with your support.
Much of the language that you will hear today comes
from Christian scripture, which shapes how we have thought about marriage over
the centuries. The tone of this service
is joyous, but there are also parts of it that what happens today is also
profoundly important, perhaps even the most important choice that two people
can make together.
Let me direct your attention to one of these
centres of gravity in this wedding service.
Towards the very end, I will say “Therefore what God has joined
together, let no one separate.” These are
not my words. They were spoke by Jesus,
and are found in Mark’s gospel (Mk 10.9). As the capstone
of the marriage service, these words of Jesus underscore the seriousness of
what the couple are entering into, although to be sure the vows themselves
speak eloquently of the stakes of marriage:
“… for better, for
worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to
cherish, for the rest of our live, according to God’s holy law. This
is my solemn vow.” (BAS 544).
There’s honesty here, isn’t there? Those of us with some experience of love
know something of the myriads of catastrophes that any newlyweds are vowing to
face together: temptation, betrayal and forgiveness; job loss and economic
ruin; life changing illnesses and accidents; dementia and slow, undignified
decline. In part, the marriage service is saying to the newlyweds,
buckle up, because you’re going to need God’s help to get through this ride.
Of course, for each of these potential
tribulations, the wedding vows point to a concomitant blessing. Sickness and
health, joy and sorrow, poverty and wealth are all bound up together in the
fullness of our lives. As the psalmist writes, “Weeping may spend
the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps 30.5). In
his earthly life, Jesus had full experience of the variety of human experience,
from sharing the joy of the wedding at Canaan and the hospitality of friends’
houses, to his tears at the grave of his friend
Lazarus. Indeed, the incarnation of Jesus is God’s promise of
commitment to our earthly life in all its hills and
valleys. In all this, God says in Christ and in the Holy
Spirit, I will go with you and be there for you.
Jacob and Amanda, where will this journey take
you? I pray, indeed, in a few minutes,
we will all pray, that this journey will take you to many good places. We will pray that God blesses you with rich
long lives, with children, and grandchildren.
We will pray that you will grow wise, patient, and kind with one
another, as we heard in today’s readings from scripture. We will pray that your home will enrich the
human community as a place of joy, warmth, and hospitality. We will pray with confidence that God’s
Spirit will go with you, guide you, and even protect you.
I say protect you because I know, as many of us do,
that the marriage vows do not guarantee you a smooth ride. Some years ago, I had the opportunity to
spend many hours in an oncology ward, observing patients spending long hours
receiving chemotherapy. What always
caught my attention were the couples, some younger than others, but many you
could tell whose marriages had strengthened and prepared them for this
moment. I saw loving glances, hands
being held, those quiet moments when a spouse’s quiet presence is the greatest
gift of all. The chemo word is one of
those places where we see that marriage is a gift of God, part of God’s design
for the well-lived human life.
All of the things we see in this marriage service –
friendship, partnership, community, parenthood – are part of the created life
and order that God gives us to enjoy, and are also resources that God gives us
to help us endure the challenges of life.
Jacob and Amanda, may God bless you and go with you through the days and
years of this high calling and wonderful gift that you enter into today.