Every wedding is a special occasion. We know this because of several reasons. People tend to dress up for weddings. In a world where business casual now includes denim, people dressing up is kind of a big deal. Not that you can tell it, but even I wore a suit today, which is a rare feat. People buy gifts for weddings. John and Sue have specifically asked us not to bring gifts, but I’m sure a few of you out there picked up a little something for the happy couple. People give up a portion of their weekend to come to a wedding. “Time is money,” the old saying goes, and even on what was a dreary Saturday, giving up a portion of your free-time must mean that these two people are special to you. Every wedding is a special occasion, but in all the weddings I’ve done over the past decade of ordained ministry, this one seems to be a little bit extra special. I know that this event is extra simply by the sheer number of people, both within Christ Church and in the wider Bowling Green community, who have shared with me their excitement and joy for these two people. Sue and John are beloved, and today, we gather to share in the joy of their coming together in Christian Marriage.
I am also keenly aware that this event is extra special because I’ve been a nervous wreck about preaching today. I joked earlier this week that I thought I was more nervous about preaching the Parker-Wilson wedding than the Presiding Bishop was to preach the Royal Wedding earlier today. As I read through the lessons, looked through the service, and prayed for Sue and John this week, I became more and more aware of the specialness of this and every wedding ceremony. The marriage rite is unlike anything else we do in the church. Neither Mother Becca nor I are really the officiants today, but rather, it is John and Sue who do the sacramental work. Their coming together in marriage, seeking after mutual joy and affection and grounded in love, is an outward and visible sign of God’s never-failing love for every one of us and for the world that God has created.
In just a few minutes, we will pray for John and Sue. We will ask God to give them wisdom, but they have plenty of that already. We will ask God to help them grow in love, but their lives have long since been dedicated to the cause of love. We will ask God to help them reconcile and forgive when the inevitable disappointments and failures come their way, but they already know forgiveness to be the hallmark of a strong marriage. Most importantly, it seems to me, is that we will pray that their marriage will be a sign of Christ love to this sinful and broken world.
In his sermon for that other wedding that took place this morning, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, noted that “There [is] power in love. Love can help and heal when nothing else can. Love can lift up and liberate for living when nothing else will.” Today, we gather to celebrate the power of love. Love that has guided these two in their lives all along. Love that has been shown in their families. Love that has been shared with thousands of students. Love that has been deeply known by their many friends. And love, which in John and Sue, I see lived out every day, shown to the world by way of loving service, compassion, and care.
Every one of us knows John Parker and Sue Wilson to be living, breathing examples of God’s love as individuals. What makes today so special is that from here on out, those individuals will become one flesh, and in so doing, will offer us a new way to see God’s love at work in the world. Today, they bring with them all that has come before. They bring two long and loving marriages, two dedicated families, years of life as widow and widower, serving the world and the church. All of those pieces come together in this day, and from here on out, their love for each other will serve a sign and symbol of the way in which God’s love can overcome all things: bears all things, hopes all things. We all know how special this day is. That’s why you are here. And so, this afternoon, we give thanks for the love that Sue and John have known in God: love given to one another, to all of us, and to the world God has created. May the Lord bless us all this day with a deep and abiding sense of the true love that endures. Amen.