In the name of God the Lover, God the Beloved, and God the Love that unites us all. Amen.
Good morning! What a glorious and beautiful day it is to worship together this morning as we witness the celebration and blessing of the marriage of my fellow Deacon Dave Blakely and Bruce McAda!
I will say that I really love this practice that Mtr. Jo and Fr. Clifton Mann brought to this church, of having a wedding or blessing of a marriage be a part of Sunday worship. Jo and Cliff Craig were married in a Sunday service here, and then 30 of us parishioners joined them on their honeymoon as we journeyed through Ireland together on a church trip! Some time later, Mtr. Miriam and Cory had their civil marriage blessed at a Sunday service, as well. I mean, WHY wouldn’t that be a part of the church worship, to be witnessed and blessed by the church family and community??
One of the many things I love about our faith tradition, the one I am so grateful has formed me from my birth, is that what “we” do is we bless, we sanctify, we consecrate - EVERYTHING!! I mean, y’all – we are in the blessing business! Not only are the simple elements of bread and wine consecrated into the most blessed body and blood of Christ each Sunday at this altar, we bless the water before baptism, we bless our animals as we commemorate the feast of St. Francis, we bless the creche as we celebrate the first service of Christmas, I’ve been to Episcopal services where crops were blessed for a fruitful harvest, I had a home blessed by our beloved Bishop Quarterman (where he was of course fully vested) as he led us in a procession from room to room for prayer and blessing in each room (and yes, even the bathroom!) – I repeat, y’all, we bless EVERYTHING!! And if there isn’t a liturgy for it in the Book of Common Prayer or the Book of Occasional Services or other liturgies approved by our church, our priests make up something (reverently, of course) to suit the occasion! That’s what we DO – we BLESS!!
Dave and Bruce are coming together before this community to have their union blessed! After 20+ years together, it seems like a long time coming – as the invitation said in that beautiful scroll font.. “Finally”!! But the road wasn’t linear, it hasn’t been easy for them to be able to do that…. And frankly, in the church I described whose purpose is to bless, this same church didn’t allow a union such as theirs to be blessed until 2015, just 7 years ago, which was at the same time, thankfully, the Supreme Court recognized such unions under Federal law. Yet this church tradition that I love so dearly wrestled and discerned and prayed and evolved and even argued, to respond in the most loving way, and said, “YES,” we are going to extend the church’s blessing to unions of loving, committed people in a variety of living situations, because that’s what we DO – we BLESS!! We bless because we love, and we love because God loves us…
Jesus said very clearly in John’s gospel reading that Dave and Bruce selected, there are no conditions… Jesus said very clearly, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus broke all the rules: he ate with the unclean, he sat with the defiled, he cured those who didn’t “deserve” it…and he did it, not because he sought the approval of the community, not because it was the way they had always done things, not expecting anything in return, he did it simply because he loved them unconditionally.
Jesus didn’t say just love those who think like you, Jesus didn’t say just love those who look like you, Jesus didn’t say just love those who live like you do. He LOVED them all and he commands us to do the same! And not only that, just as in the epistle reading chosen for today, it says God is love, and those who abide in love, abide in God, and God abides in them… And that term “abide”… it is a term of intimacy that we share with our Father, and is the same level of intimacy between a couple who becomes married.
We love because he first loved us. Not only do we recognize that God IS love, God, in the form of Jesus Christ, the Christ whose resurrection we celebrated just a week ago, taught us “how” to love – without condition, without restraint, with reckless abandon. And he calls each one of us to do the same… and as we do, we are ALL blessed, we are ALL sanctified, we are ALL consecrated. And as we do, we bring blessing and sanctification and consecration to others who so desperately need it!
As I said, y’all – we are in the blessing business, and because what we do is we bless, we are gathered today to pray God’s blessing upon the marriage of Dave and Bruce and celebrate the love they have for each other. We honor and celebrate their love as we are reminded of Jesus commandment to love all others without condition, without restraint, and with reckless abandon.