Saturday, March 23, 2013

Words for Sean and Chelsea's Wedding

Our son Sean and his love, Chelsea, were married today at New Hope. The following is what I wrote as a prelude to their vows.

So here we are.

Two people come to be joined together in marriage. They are surrounded by family and friends. They even know the minister pretty well. The preliminaries of discovery, of getting to know each other, of courtship have all occurred. Not that any of those won't continue. They will.

As a veteran of  almost 40 years of marriage, I can tell you all that I still discover new things to love about my bride. Some of those moments come born of laughter. As you share life together you will find much to take pleasure in, to rejoice over. It's been that way since the beginning. In the first recorded marriage ceremony, we read of Adam's "discovery."

23 The Man said,
"Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman for she was made from Man." 24 Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh.  Gen 2:23-24 (MSG)

We tend to focus on the "one flesh" part, but the Hebrews simply meant that as a marriage, a union grows - you become one. And being that connected means that your sorrows are halved, and your joy is doubled. There will be times when bride and groom will enjoy just being "one" as life rolls forward.

You will also discover that at times you differ on things that matter. In those times your ever present companion in the Holy Spirit will prove to be your greatest help. Certainly there are times you will be able to draw on the wisdom and experience of others - I'd start with your pastor of course - but family and friends can certainly help. But each of them comes with their own particular biases, no matter how well intentioned they may be. You have a helper and He is ever present in good and in not so good. And He knew you would be here today.

We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. 3 There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, 4 and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. 5 In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! Romans 5:2-5 (MSG)

Draw on Him, and you will discover just how complete your marriage can be with Christ at the center of it.

As far as that "getting to know each other" part, well, you two have had a while to sort through each of your approaches to relationship. It wasn't the longest courtship, but compared to many of us in here, it did take a while. So I'm pretty confident a lot of things were worked through.

There's one thing though I hope that you will never stop working on, and that is your relationship with Christ and His Church. I have seen it again and again, and for a time Bunny and I were also participants. Couples marry, or have another life change such as the birth of a baby, and they neglect their relationship with Christ and pull away from the Church. Every time it happens, I wonder if they've really thought and prayed through why God puts people together.
Is it hard to make it all work? Yes. But this is the eternally supreme relationship.
21 After proclaiming the Message in Derbe and establishing a strong core of disciples, they retraced their steps to Lystra, then Iconium, and then Antioch, 22 putting muscle and sinew in the lives of the disciples, urging them to stick with what they had begun to believe and not quit, making it clear to them that it wouldn't be easy: "Anyone signing up for the kingdom of God has to go through plenty of hard times." Acts 14:21-22 (MSG)

So don't let work, don't let troubles, OR joys separate you from the love of God through your personal relationship with Him, or your communal relationship with your co-laborers here at New Hope. Amazingly, we actually know a few things here about how to make marriage work, how to keep your relationship fresh with Christ and with each other. And many of us have found deep fulfillment in service here that helps dissolve whatever went on at work that day.

It's not always easy. But putting God first and staying deep in relationship with Him and His people is always right.

13 "Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. 14 The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention. Matt 7:13-14 (MSG)
Finally, a word about courtship.

You two really grew up knowing each other. And over the last few years at times it has seemed to Bunny and to me that you were already acting like a couple who have been married for a while. And yet, you weren't. Today you make perhaps the second most important commitment of your lives. The time for presenting your best side, for holding back for fear of what the other might think, is over. Now, you give your all.

Are you ready?

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