Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy Name, and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 832)
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I had the great honor yesterday to officiate at the wedding of our “emotional daughter” Anna Kurtz to David O’Connor.
They were married in the beautiful Mountain Theatre atop Mt. Tam, an amphitheatre ringed with trees and with stunning views down through the blanket of fog to San Francisco Bay.
The Prayer for Guidance above formed the frame for my brief homily.
Anna and David have already begun their life together as a couple. Our grandson Alex is one of the fruits of their relationship, and David’s daughters Molly and Maeve fill out their lovely family.
Yesterday they made a new beginning, “[giving] themselves to each other by solemn vows, with the joining of hands and the giving and receiving of rings” (BCP 428).
They have already begun well, and they will find every day offers an opportunity to begin again, to recommit themselves to their life together.
David invited local musician Will Sprott of The Mumlers to sing a few songs for the guests who gathered for yesterday’s ceremony.
When Will sang, “Your friends say I’m a dog,” David’s brothers chuckled, but when the verse continued, “… and I just want to stay here with you,” I could see how Anna and David moved even closer to one another.
Staying put is the countercultural and the spiritual heart of marriage.
Staying with one person, “forsaking all others,” continuing to be faithful, is something that runs counter to the personal freedom that our society really values.
Promising to stay put, and choosing daily to stay with just one person in the face of 5 billion other options, is a strange thing to do.
I have always found it intriguing that the prayers for the couple in the marriage service were written by a monk of the Society of St. John the Evangelist.
Monks and nuns make the same basic promise to stay put — it’s often called a vow of stability — and living each day under that promise is a key part of their growth into spiritual maturity.
For most of the rest of us, marriage is the place where that spiritual growth will happen, where dealing with one person every day rubs our rough places smooth and offers us the opportunity to become more mature.
That maturity is one of the key ends, or goals, of marriage.
In the final blessing over the couple, the priest prays “that they may so love, honor, and cherish each other in faithfulness and patience, in wisdom and true godliness, that their home may be a haven of blessing and peace” (BCP 431).
Beginning with the promise of faithfulness, continuing in the daily discipline of staying put, marriage also builds in the couple (we pray) “such fulfillment of … mutual affection that they may reach out in love and concern for others” (BCP 429).
Along with the building of a home, a haven of blessing and peace where each person can grow and mature, another end of marriage is outward-looking care for others.
Anna and David’s family and friends testify to the love and care they already give so freely, and we pray that what they have begun anew will continue to bear fruit to the end.