|The Wedding (Photo credit: Maria Evans)|
|The Reception at Peckerwood, Lewes, DE|
Her sister-in-law Orpah was very wise to turn her back around and go home, perhaps to find another man to marry.
But, Ruth follows her heart – which sometimes happens when you are out of your mind – and says yes. And, she became part of the messianic line of David, thus weaving the strands of risk and redemption into the earthly heritage and legacy of Jesus.
We all know the story. Jesus and his mother are at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee and Mary discovers that they’ve run out of wine. She tells Jesus and Jesus gives her some real sass and attitude.
It’s a good thing he’s the son of God because if I had spoken to my mother like that – called her ‘woman’?!?! - well, let’s just say it would not have been pretty.
Sometimes, it’s an enormous risk to speak the truth from your heart and set something into motion, the outcome of which you cannot know and cannot control.
A friend had been ordained to the priesthood and her family had made the communion bread. There were three consecrated loaves left over and she asked me if I wanted to take them home, to which I, of course, said an enthusiastic and appreciative “YES”.
"Oh," I said, "I'll just put it in the freezer."
|Lauren and Judy at the reception|
He says, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come,”
And that’s exactly the moment when Mary knew he would do it. Which is why I think she said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you to do.”
So, I brought the consecrated bread home, wrapped it carefully (and in fact lovingly) in several layers of aluminum foil, and put it all in the freezer.
While she was sitting at the kitchen table, drinking her coffee, I opened the refrigerator, and in a high, squeaky voices said, "Barbara. It's me. Jesus. I'm right here behind the chicken and in between the packages of frozen broccoli and peas. Help me. I'm so cold."
Ms. Conroy, thoroughly disgusted, got up, took her coffee and snarled at me as she left the room.
I did the same thing, much to her disgust. When she left the room she called over her shoulder, "You're going to rot in hell for that." Just think of it as the modern, more caustic equivalent of Mary saying to the servants: “Do whatever he tells you.”
On the third morning, I did it again, but this time I bumped the torment up a notch. I did my impersonation of a very cold Jesus, ending with, "Barbara, help me. Save me." I opened the freezer door wide and yelled into it, "If you are really the savior, save yourself!"
At which point, Ms. Conroy slapped her hand on the table, got up and took two loaves of consecrated bread out of the freezer and tucked them under each of her arms.
"Where are you going with that?" I asked.
"To feed the birds!" she replied, adding over her shoulder as she walked out of the room, "I'd rather birds ate of the Real Presence than to have Our Lord go through this!"
And, with that, she stormed out of the room.
Playful torment is a two way street. And, it’s important to ease the tension of the enormous responsibility of vocation.
Why? Well, besides the importance of playfully tormenting each other every now and again, I think it’s because we’ve always said yes, even when there are lots of good reasons to say no.
Thirty-nine years ago we were daft to think we could be together. And, in many ways, we were. Daft. Indeed, we really are still crazy after all these years.
|At left Nancy and Bob Ihloff and Mark Harris|
Because marriage - in its heart, at its very core - is not about the government and it’s not about the church.
It’s about God.
Even on a good day, marriage requires mutual sacrifice and presence and witness.
This covenant you have come to have blessed in the church is a vocation. You have been called together by God to do something together neither one of you could do by yourselves – to bring forth new life in a barren land.
Marriage - at its very core, in its heart - is a vocation.
It is the calling together of two people who take the risk of love, of saying yes when there are good reasons to say no, and create new life, a new way of being.
And they will be blessed in the doing and be a blessing and a witness of the miracle of 'yes'.
But ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take.…It is indeed a fearful gamble.…Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature.”
Not to worry. You’re not alone. All of the people in this church are here to support you.
All of the people who have gone on before, who have been witnesses of God’s peace and justice and sing God’s praises in the heavenly chorus are here to support you in what you are about to do.
Well, I don’t know about you, but for me:
This is about friendship.
This is about community.
This is about vocation.
This is about the truth that love is, as Madeline L’Engle says “not possession but participation”.
This is about commitment. This is about vows that make a sacred covenant which we bless.
The Chocolate Avocado Wedding Cake
This is about being blessed so that you may be a blessing.
This is about risk. It is, as Madeline L'Engle says, "a fearful gamble".
This is about going back home and being a witness to the miracle of new life that happens whenever you say yes even when there are many reasons to say no.