Monday, May 30, 2011

A "Defense of Marriage" Blog

It was by any standard a Wonderful Wedding.

Alex and Austin have known each other for ten years -- been engaged for three -- and share not only a deep love for each other but values like compassion and creativity -- not to mention a wicked sense of humor.

I was honored to be asked to come preside at their wedding in Sewanee ... where both of Alex's parents are studying at the School of Theology ... and after organizing pre-marital counseling at-a-distance (thanks, St. Bart's, Atlanta!) and all the many details that make up planning a wedding I headed to the Tennessee mountains for what was very much a "family wedding."

Here are a few photos:

The "wedding long shot" [photo credit: Brian Russell]

The giving-and-receiving of rings

The Blessing

The aforementioned "wicked sense of humor"

Afterwards, there were the obligatory "Kodak moments:"
and here are a couple of my favorites:

Me and my boys (being silly)

Mother of the bride [Lori] with my Brian, maid-of-honor
daughter Kimmie, bride Alex, my Jamie and me.

And as great and fun and lovely as all those are, here is arguably my favorite:

It's the table at the reception where guests were encouraged to pick up a packet of Jordan Almonds with this message attached:
In thanksgiving for your presence with us today, we have made a gift to the Nets for Life program sponsored by Episcopal Relief and Development.
No monogrammed candy dishes or etched candles -- no overpriced wedding memorabilia to stick away in a drawer somewhere and look at every once in awhile and wonder if it's been long enough to send to the thrift shop. Not for this bride and groom.

Instead, a donation for hope and healing ... an outward and visible sign of one of the inward and spiritual graces we prayed for them in the wedding prayers when we said:

Give them such fulfillment of their mutual affection that they may reach out in love and concern for others.
Seems to me that they're already there.

And it seems to me that that -- right there on those Jordan Almonds -- is the essence of why we need more -- not less -- of this kind of love and commitment. And why these words from the homily I preached on Saturday in Sewanee are for me kind of a "Why Marriage Matters Manifesto:"

What we see realized today in Austin and Alex and in this community gathered is nothing less than the corporate face of God’s love. What we are witnessing today is not only the celebration of the love these two fabulous young people have for each other but the most amazing love that God has for all of us – love that is so much wider, broader and more abundant than we can either ask for or imagine.

For the love of God is broader than the measure of the mind.
And the heart of the eternal is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful, we should take Him at his word,
And our lives would be thanksgiving, for the goodness of the Lord.

Austin and Alex that are examples to us today of the covenant love between two people which is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace: of what it is to live into our full humanity as creatures created in the image of the one who’s very essence is love – in the image of the God who created us and sustains us.

Blessed to be a blessing, they help us experience the transformative love of God – blessing us so that we may be a blessing in return and draw others in to be blessed by being part of this community of faith. It is a grand and glorious circle – and it is the work we are called to be about – are privileged to be about as the people of God working with God to make the Garden of Eden grow green again.

The love we celebrated and the relationship the church blessed on Saturday in Sewanee transcended the gender of the couple making the commitment, sharing their joy, starting this part of their life togehter. The sacramental moment I had the privlege of being part of between Alex and Austin was just as present at the wedding of Mark and Gene, of Bear and Susan, of Mel and Gary and of Katherine and Mally. To name a few.

It's what I believe we're called as a country to protect and defend and as a church to rejoice and celebrate. It's a "theology of marriage" that builds up not just families but the future; sanctifies not just couples but communities. It lifts up marriage as an honorable estate -- not as a heterosexual privilege.

So here's to love. Here's to marriage. Here's to Alex and Austin. (And if you're of a mind to join with them and make donation to "Nets for Life"
here's a link to do that -- to reach out in love in response to the One who calls us to walk in love as He loved us.)

1 comment:

JimB said...

Bless them oh Lord with long and loving lives together.