In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
I am here on serious business today. I am here to warn you all of a great threat to us. A threat to our way of life. A threat to the ease and comfort in which we live. A threat to the personal security that we so often take for granted. I am to speak to you about something, which if left unchecked, could turn our very world upside down.
Some of you may already be thinking that a wedding is not the place to bring up such dire warnings. Weddings should be light, and funny. A wedding sermon should, at minimum, offer some advice to the couple and not take up too much time. Well I apologize in advance because I cannot in good conscience let pass this opportunity to warn you, my dear friends, of this imminent threat that we face.
And rather than bang on about Pop Music lyrics like I usually do at this point – to an extent to which the Mother and Father of the Bride and certainly all of the Choir could recite it along with me, rather than do that, I want to turn to Holy Scripture, for it is full of warnings about the threat that I am concerned with today. So I will let scripture speak for itself.
In the New Testament, and as we have just heard, Saint Paul warns us. In writing to the sophisticated, well-educated Corinthians, who were over flowing in spiritual gifts, he warns them of the insidious danger of love:
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
His warning rings true today. Love will turn you into a spineless, wimpy push over and at the same time give you the strength to prevail against all manner of onslaught and conflict. Love will take over your life if you let it. Love will turn your world upside down.
The writer of the first letter attributed to John goes even further, and we heard this at the start of this service:
“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love”
1 John 4: 7-8.
If God is love then there is just no escaping it.
Wherever there is love, whoever is loving, however they are loving, that’s God.
Love is risky. Love is demanding. Love is costly, or better yet priceless. There is a power in love.
Love casts down the wealthy and powerful, and lifts up the poor and lowly.
Love cannot rest as long as there are hungry children, broken hearts, or captives of any kind.
Love can change the world, turn it upside down in fact, make up down and last first.
Love does this not in feats of strength but in weakness and vulnerability.
Love is weird like that. Love brought Jesus to the cross and out of the grave.
Love is constantly poured out on all flesh, making all things new.
Yes, God is love and the older I get the harder it is for me to tell the difference between the two.
If you like the way things are, my friends, if you are comfortable, if the status quo is fine by you, then you best steer clear of love.
But in spite of all the warnings from scripture, in the face of a world that seems bent on the opposite of love, and perhaps in contradiction to common sense, two more people gather before God, before us, to commit their lives to love.
Richard and Naomi have seen what love costs, what love demands.
They know that to love means to leave self behind, to empty oneself, to give it all.
They know that love opens oneself up to ridicule, sacrifice and loss, great loss, for Love breaks us open, and the presence of each other, they seek to complete each other.
Their love today is a sacrament, an outward expression of invisible grace.
As Christ gives his life for the church and the church in return gives its life for Christ, so do Richard and Naomi give themselves to each other. Their lives lived in love are not to be hid away but to be lived out in public for all to see. Their shared love is a symbol of the love of God for the world, overflowing to all whom they encounter. Their home a sign of God’s inbreaking Kingdom where justice and peace abound, where love is a higher law.
We who gather here today come to commit ourselves to uphold them in prayer and support them as they answer love’s call. And today too, we are reminded of love’s call on our lives. As we witness the vows of Richard and Naomi may we have our own love strengthened.
For in love, the world is made a more complete place, society a more caring structure, family a deeper bond. For all of us, like the rings exchanged this day, may love be given and received. Let us all recommit ourselves the radical weak power of love, the love of God, in which we live and move and have our being.
May this be our prayer, all of us, in the name of God who is love, God who is +Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen