Cavanaugh-Click Wedding Homily (September 21, 2013)
Psalm 148:1-4, 9-13a, 13c-14a
Ephesians 5:2a, 21-33
I have a confession to make. Although my wife Angie and I have been involved with wedding preparation since 2006, this is the first wedding I’ve presided at since being ordained a Deacon last year. I’m hoping I won’t wake up tomorrow realizing I left out an important step voiding the whole thing. Shawn, keep your cell phone on in case I need to call you tomorrow!
With that being said, it’s an honor to be here tonight on the day Shawn and Stacey start their married life together. It’s always interesting to me to see what readings from Scripture the couple chooses for their ceremony. There are many different ones to choose from, each conveying a slightly different meaning. Therefore, since Shawn and Stacey picked the readings we just heard, I think it’d be wise to try and figure out what message they are trying to convey to us as they form a new bond together in the presence of their friends and family.
Take the first reading from Genesis. It’s one of the two creation stories that we are all familiar with. God created Adam and then says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” Then what’s the very next thing God creates…wild animals and birds. What?!?! Think about that. God just said He wanted to make a suitable partner for Adam but then makes, I don’t know, a monkey and a parakeet instead??? What may seem strange at first actually is pretty creative on God’s part. It is almost like God is saying, “Shawn, I want to give you a suitable wife. But rather than just making her appear out of thin air, I want you to tell me when you see her in this long line of my creations.” Shawn, then patiently waits and waits and waits. It’s a challenge from God. He’s wondering if you are willing to wait for the right one, the one He created just for you. Tiger, no. Pelican, nope. Zebra, not even close. Finally, Stacey comes walking along and Shawn says, “Whoa, Man!” Which, of course, is where we get the term woman (kidding). No seriously, he yells out, ‘this one, at last, is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” This is the first recorded instance of love at first sight. The two are then married by the husband and wife clinging to each other and becoming one body.
The next reading from Ephesians is probably the most beautiful passage in the entire Bible describing married love. This is the passage often misunderstood by people because it tells women to be subordinate to their husbands. Another word for subordination is submission, which means to be under the mission. Therefore to understand what is being said here, we need to understand what the mission is. Here’s the mission assigned to the husband, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her.” Stacey, this Scripture passage is saying that you should allow Shawn to love you and be willing to lay down his life for you just like Jesus laid down his life for the church. Are you okay with that? However, that doesn’t mean you can come home at 2am after a long shift at the restaurant, wake Shawn up and say, “Brian said you need to love me so go make me a snack!” It’s calling for a mutual and respectful love of each other. This passage also finishes with a reference to the man and wife becoming one flesh similar to the first reading.
The Gospel from Mark is a short, to the point retelling of what was already said in the other readings. It’s talking about the permanency of the marriage bond. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human beings must separate.”
So what are Shawn and Stacey trying to convey by choosing these readings? They were made for each other, they are willing to lay down their lives for each other and they are willing to take their two separate bodies and unite them into one inseparable married body brought together by God.
Shawn summed it up nicely when I got to spend some time with him and his family a few weeks ago at a cookout. He came up to me and said, “Brian, I’m glad the first wedding you get to do is our wedding. That way in 20 or so years you can see Stacey and I and think, look, they were my first wedding and they are still going strong.”
20 or so years away is not an easy task, but it is doable if you are willing to put forth the effort. Both of you put a lot of effort into getting to this day. You need to keep putting in that same effort after today as well. There will be moments during your marriage when things are going great almost like a fairy tale. Then there will be days when one of you (probably Shawn) will be sleeping on the couch after a disagreement. All married couples go through these highs and lows. The difference between the couples that make it and the ones that don’t all starts with today. If you two truly believe that God brought you together, if you two truly believe that the Scripture passages you choose for your wedding are true, then the only option you have is a life long committed marriage together. This new unbreakable marriage bond begins today with the exchanging of your vows. In order for this new marriage bond to be formed, you need to believe in your heart what you are saying with your vows and ask God to guide you through the rest of your married life together.
With that being said, Stacey and Shawn, are you ready to exchange your vows and start your married life together?