Sunday, October 10, 2021

A Message to My Goddaughter on the Occasion of Her Confirmation

To war! To war! Once more into the breach!

I stand behind you, Mary, as you now take up arms in the battle for God's glory – you are a warrior now, grown to full sacramental stature and equipped to lay waste all that stands in the way of God's reign.



No compromise – victory alone! 

I will continue to pray for you daily as you launch into the company of warriors already engaged in this struggle. I'm proud to have stood by you at the start. 


Sunday, June 27, 2021

Wedding Homily

Lord Jesus, you are here for we are gathered in your name, and we gather with Belle and Dallas as they join their lives together in you. Bless them as they commit themselves to each other – bless this moment of beginnings, this launching of Belle and Dallas’s glorious adventure! And bless us all as we support them in that adventure, both as it begins today and long, long into the future. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!
Belle, Dallas, you’ve been counting the days for over a year – and probably the hours the last few days – and now it’s here: Your wedding day, the day in which your individual timelines – and those of your families – will become forever intertwined. Indeed, today, June 26, 2021, you will become one in Christ, and we are all here to share in your joy. So let’s begin by putting everything in context by anchoring this moment in God’s word. 
“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other” (Romans 12.10).

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!” (I Corinthians 13.4-8).
My dear friends – and I say that so deliberately – my dear friends, your choice of Scripture readings is truly profound. Of course, it’s no surprise that both readings touch on love, but they do so in subtly different ways. In the verse from Romans, Paul reminds us – reminds you – to love honestly and thoroughly, such that your loving – your honoring, serving, and deferring to one another – becomes a source of pleasure, delight even. The verse previous to the one you chose, verse 9, brings that out even more. “Don’t just pretend to love others,” Paul writes. “Really love them.” 

How? Paul provides some ideas in Romans further on, but he really nails the “how” in the reading you chose from I Corinthians 13 – the love chapter, as it’s known, and it’s in every wedding you’ve ever been to probably. But you chose to have us zero in on one part of the love chapter in particular, verses four to eight – the guts of the love chapter, the quick-start instruction manual. There’s no theologizing there, nothing abstract. Paul insists that love in action is longsuffering and benevolent; it’s not pigheaded or vulgar or selfish. It’s not cranky either, or sarcastic, and it’s definitely not wimpy. Rather love is loyal and persevering, never giving up no matter what

And here’s the kicker: You can’t live up to all these lofty goals…on your own! You’ll need God’s grace, but even with grace, you’ll still fall short from time to time. That’s why Paul throws in that line about not keeping a record of being wronged. That’s absolutely key, because even when you’re bound and determined to love each other perfectly – a good and noble goal to set on your wedding day, to be sure! – nonetheless, you’ll still fail from time to time (ask anybody that’s been married for longer than, say, a week), so you just have to get used to saying “I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you,” and then keep going, keep getting better at it. Keep getting better at loving each other.

That’s how marriages last 40, 50 years and longer, and it’s pretty good prep for being parents as well – something I know you’re both looking forward to. Back in Romans 12, Paul writes further on, “Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying,” and then “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.” If that’s not a formula for Christian parenthood, I don’t know what is – and it’s a mission you’ll take on together in God’s time with great love. 

And what a mission! Marriage and family intentionally rooted in Christ is a rich life, full of love and laughter and lavish generosity. I see you both reveling in that kind of rich life as the years unfold – as you welcome the children we pray God sends you, as you build up with them your own little domestic kingdom of love and life, and then as you two grow old together surrounded by a rollicking mob

Oh, the smiles you’ll know then – the sighs of contentment and peace. “Love will last forever,” Paul tells us at the end of that Romans verse you chose, because God is love and we become part of eternal love when we join our loving to his. That’s what you begin today. That’s why we’re here.