Saturday, October 5, 2013

After the wedding is over the marriage starts

In a few moments, or at least in the next 15 minutes the wedding will be over. All the planning a blur. And the most official part of what happened here will be- not the photographs but this piece of paper- your marriage license. I will sign it and that's it. And really we could have just gotten together in my office and done that.
But of course there are your loved ones who wanted to be here for this, and perhaps even more the party after. But in the end today could just be about a piece of paper and fancy party. But as one of my colleagues often says, this piece of paper is not a marriage.  In fact, everything we are doing today is not a marriage. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great day. It is wonderful to be in this place, with all these people, witnessing your vows to one another. This place where grandparents said their vows,  it is good to be here.  But as good as it is to be here, don’t get confused: this is a wedding, not a marriage.
What makes a marriage is what comes next.
What makes a marriage is what you do tomorrow, and the next day, and the following weeks and months and years. While in Genesis two were brought together, by God,  in order for that to "take" so to speak, it will take more. And it has to do with what the apostle Paul is talking about  in that reading about love. Lots of people want it read at weddings because it gives us these lofty thoughts about love. But it reminds me that there is a difference between flying high above something and seeing it up close. Love in theory versus the daily journey.
When Paul talks about love, it sounds a bit lofty.  Almost perfection. But here's the thing. He’s talking not to a couple at a wedding with a gleam in their eyes, but to  a church that is anything but perfect.  Those Corinthians could argue!  About food, about the church service, the seating. It would make wedding planning seem trivial.

Paul's can't imagine how they got so far from the start, he writes this-  Love described in idealistic terms.
If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

It sounds beautiful. But here's the thing. You may have already discovered this but still worth repeating. Love is hard; love is complicated and messy; sometimes love is almost impossible.
Paul gives us a high flying view so that when we get back on the ground we remember not just what love is, but what love is supposed to be.

So that when things get tough we don't wonder just how complicated it would be to walk away rather than stay together.
 But the other thing to notice is it really is about more than you two.
It's about everyone here promising to be a part of reminding ourselves
just how wonderful this day is because God has made it happen and to commit ourselves to remembering no matter what the days bring.
because the truth is that for all the things you see in your jobs, and crazy schedules and caring for your families, there will be THOSE days. 
So how about one practical thing? I share this- on her golden wedding anniversary, a woman revealed the secret of her long and happy marriage. "On my wedding day, I decided to choose ten of my husband's faults which, for the sake of our marriage, I would overlook," she explained. She was asked her to name some of the faults. "To tell the truth," she replied, "I never did get around to listing them. But whenever my husband did something that made me hopping mad, I would say to myself, 'Lucky for him that's one of the ten.'"

So often our world as we continue to see is about saying we will work together but what we mean is- we want our own way. The strengths you have developed as a couple that have brought you this far-remember them. The family and friends who are here love you. Cherish them. God has given you this love and these people. And God has given you-God. Find people who can walk with you, who will pray and worship and forgive and seek guidance with you. That is God's love. And that is the best gift of all.
May God bless you with this gift each and every day in all that is to come as your marriage and your love continue to grow.

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