Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jumping Into God's Promise

Awhile ago I was asked to be a part of an interfaith marriage of sorts. Between a man raised Lutheran ( who in fact was the fourth generation of men to have Luther as a part of their name) and a woman who had been baptized in my congregation but over the next 50 years was never in this place and had in fact embraced pagan earth bound spirituality. He has joined our congregation and she is seeking, trying to make meaning of the baptism she received but the faith formation she missed.
In any event, she asked if they could jump the broom as a part of their ceremony. After speaking with her I learned that this is not just an African American tradition ( my only understanding of it before now) but was Celtic as well. And for her it symbolized jumping into a new chapter of life, leaving old negativity behind. And in her understanding this would happen at the very end of worship.
I offered to think about how this would be incorporated in a Christian ceremony, and realized first that of course we as the church have coopted and incorporated many pagan traditions. And that this is a new chapter of life. But logically jumping the broom after the ceremony would kind of be like jumping away from what happened at the altar.
So I met again with the couple and suggested that at the end of the procession, they jump the broom into the space where they declare their intention to be wed. Jumping to and not away from the altar space.
Bingo. We planned the service and to my delight they wanted vows that invoked the Trinity, not just simple words. They had looked for Scripture and settled upon a passage from Song of Solomon- arise and come away my love. And also the familiar two becoming one, but also 1 John which speaks of perfect love while also offering a word about fear and lying and imperfect love. Given the fact this is not a first marriage very appropriate. And so we gathered and I chose to fully integrate that broom into the homily for the occasion.

Eric and Brenda we have traveled an interesting road to here. We met first in cold and blustery days. And it gives me great joy to have the honor of sharing today in celebration. And to be a part of a tradition I had never experienced before, the jumping of the broom. I remember when we first talked about it and the symbolism of leaping out of negativity and the past and into new life together. Jumping that broom into the declaration of love began your wedding today. Knowing your story and this symbolism, it is altogether fitting that our first reading spoke words that fit this day- arise, come, winter is past, storms are gone. Let us enter into a season of singing and flowers and beauty and abundance. Whenever there is a wedding everyone here is in some way reminiscing about, celebrating or hoping for love. And it is obvious to me and I think to everyone else who is delighted over your happiness, that you guys kind of radiate that love- like that light shining before us. Your light reminds us that your love reflects God’s love for all of us. That is powerful indeed.
And we are celebrating God’s gift of your love with bold and beautiful words. Love has been perfected. And love casts out fear. You have been through days of winter and storms, and are happy. There is much to celebrate!

And we hope today is a day to remember. Of course, we could be celebrating this marriage anywhere. Yet, you chose this place, God’s house. Jumping the broom is also a symbol. Of moving into a new chapter in your life of faith. Happening because of what God has been revealing to you. The story of a God whose very being is a love that has brought you into this new chapter of your lives.
And now we are here for the new chapter. But while you are leaving some things behind, we are also connecting the role God has had to the role God should and will have in your lives together. Those bold words we read are not just words of beauty, they are words of faith. Even the ones that sounded a little out of tune. As rich as those words from Song of Solomon, love poetry in the Bible are, the words from 1 John are almost a buzzkill. Words about fear and hate and lies. Who on earth wants to hear that? We want to hear about love. But they remind us I think as jumping the broom does, that every day beyond this one is a leap of faith.

As much as we want to believe that jumping that broom is the perfect talisman, every day to follow will be a day where you make decisions about what it means to love, to comfort, to honor, care for, and sacrifice for each other. As you know there will be days of loving and days where one or both of you are kind of unlovable. It’s true. Because while we want to believe we will be perfect in love, God knows we will not quite get there.

So what can we offer for the journey? First, remember that God brought you together- into each other’s lives-God has been working. Giving you not only love, but perspective. God’s deepest desire for you is continued happiness together.
Second, remember that we all made promises too. Last night we joked about tripping over that broom. But in seriousness, today we promised to pick you up and care for you and for your life together. And we promised to love you as a sister and brother. And to bless your journey together. God gives you this group of friends and family.

God also gives you this church. With people who have been praying for you whether you knew it or not. And who long to know you better, celebrate with you and share the light of Christ with you. You never have to go it alone. Some days your light will be the one guiding us, other days, we will be the ones guiding you.
Do not become a stranger to this place, or to those who have this day said they are walking with you. Our lives are woven with yours just like the ribbons on that broom.  And even more, our lives are woven with the eternal message of Jesus and the cross-that God will continue to love us, forgive us, restore us and encourage us to try again. Unconditionally and forever.

That relationship of love all started on another day in a church that you don’t remember- your baptism. The day God began the perfect loving relationship and lifelong journey with you. Where each day, God’s grace gives us forgiveness and new life. In fact it’s not a stretch to believe that every day we wake up jumping that broom into God’s promise and opportunity for the day.
Think of it, every day a chance to say thanks for what has given glory to God, and forgiveness for the rest.

You’ve now entered the journey together surrounded and embraced by the gift of this love, and these loved ones and the love of God in Christ. It’s beautiful and powerful and worth celebrating indeed! May these things grace your love and journey from this day forth and forevermore.



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