A Wedding Homily – 2017

Welcome, we are all here to witness something awesome!  We have come to witness two unique individuals come forward, and with God’s grace,  become one.  We are about to witness the power of their love for each other, and the power of God’s love, made present here before us; and that should fill us all with awe!
For that is one of the objectives that a celebration of a sacrament is suppose to accomplish.  It is an opportunity to encounter the Divine; through the ordinary objects that our God has created: water, olive oil, bread and wine,..a ring.  A sacrament is also a means by which God transforms the individual or individuals who are receiving the sacrament.  Through the waters of Baptism, we are cleansed of sin, and become born again as a child of God.  Through the anointing with holy oil, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  When we receive consecrated bread and wine, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, and become one with Christ.  And in the exchange of rings, which symbolizes the pledge, in love, of a man and a woman to each other, to their union.  And it also symbolizes God’s pledge to you both; that He will be with you always.

For God is the source of all life, and of all love.  And through His Spirit, that love can fill your hearts, your souls, all the way down into the very depths of your being.  The power of God’s Presence within you, the power of His love; will help you experience the joyful times more intensely; will help you through the trying times with more hope.  Remember always the description of love we have just heard from the writings of St. Paul:

“It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.”                  (1 Corinthians)

Love will never fail, if we continually open our hearts, and be present to God, the Father.  A Dutch priest and author, had a personal revelation; reflecting on when God addressed Jesus, as He was coming up out of the waters of the Jordan River, as His “Beloved.”  And He also calls you, me,  all of us here, “Beloved.”  Whether we have been good or bad; whether we have ignored Him or not; whether we believe in Him or not; He still calls each one of us”Beloved.”

It is by the power of that love; by the gift of His Spirit, that you both have been drawn to this place, to this sacred moment of time.  And we have all been drawn here to witness something awesome.

A Wedding Homily

St. Margaret

St. Margaret of Scotland Church

Last Saturday, April 23rd, at St. Margaret of Scotland Church in Beverly; I had the privilege and honor to officiate at the wedding of a very nice couple.  It was my first wedding ceremony as a deacon, and to say I was a little nervous, would be putting it mildly.  So I put everything in the hands of the Lord, and stepped out into the sanctuary and greeted the handsome groom and beautiful bride.  The ceremony was both simple and powerful.  A single violin provided the music; and the old church never looked better.  The following is the homily I delivered, although I did change it a little as I preached:

 

My friends, we are a gathered here today, to witness something awesome!  We have two unique individuals, Jaclyn and Michael, who soon will become one.  They have been brought together by the power of love; they will be joined together by the power of love.  We are to about to witness, we are about to celebrate a sacrament, the sacrament of marriage.  A sacrament, instituted by Jesus Christ, when it is celebrated, reveals and makes present the divine reality they signify, a visible sign of the God’s grace at work within us.  And we will soon witness the grace of the Father’s love at work within Jaclyn and Michael.  And they are going to be changed down to the core of their being by the grace of God, transformed, and forever changed.  They will be a new creation.

It is love, perfected by God’s grace, which binds them together.  And we need to understand that the love I am speaking about not the sentimental love one sees in Hallmark cards.  It is the type of love that St. Paul describes in his letter to the Corinthians. 

“Love is patient, love is kind…It does not seek its own interests.  It is not quick tempered….It bears all things… believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  (1st Cor ). 

This is what love should be for all of us, in all of our relationships, but especially in a marital relationship.  But I will tell you now, after 27 years of being with the love of my life, with all the joys and happiness, there can still be challenges, there can be some struggles, because we can never know what curve balls life will toss at us.  Even the day to day of living together will bring happy surprises, but also some challenges.  But I can also testify to the fact that you will each have some new discoveries about the other; the majority of which will bring joy and happiness in your life, but some that may drive you up the wall.  It is love that will keep you both on an even keel; it is love that will see you both through.  It is love that will keep the joy alive for both of you.  And as St. Paul says, “Love never fails.”

For love to work though, our hearts, our souls, must be continually open to its source; open to God’s grace through Jesus Christ the Son.  Jesus Christ, who is the prime example of what it means to love, who emptied Himself for love of us all.  We encounter Him in Word and Sacrament , we encounter Him in quiet moments.  And in that encounter, we are refreshed.

It is appropriate that we celebrate this wedding here in this church, named for St. Margaret of Scotland.  She is one of our rare laywoman saints.  She is an example of what a Catholic marriage is all about.  Born in England, she would become Queen of Scotland, after marrying King Malcolm III of Scotland in 1070.  It is said that they had a very affectionate relationship, which was rare for royal marriages of those times.  Together, they had eight children.  She is said to have had a civilizing effect on the Scottish court.  She had a strong spiritual life, and she was known charitable works, supported by her husband.  A true marriage is life enriching for both husband and wife.  And a true Catholic marriage is life giving, by having children, or reaching out to others in need. 

The wonder, the joy of the love of God is made manifest in many ways.  One of them is by this sacrament we are about to celebrate, in what this couple is about to celebrate.  Let us join together, praying for Jaclyn and Michael, for their joy and happiness.  And let us witness something awesome!

End of Retreat -Packing Up

Enders Is ChapelIt is Sunday, and our Deacon weekend retreat at Enders Island is coming to an end.  The day’s were filled with conferences, times for silent reflection and prayer.  I will be honest, I have not felt like writing and sharing on this blog, for which I am apologize.  Even this post will be brief, because, first all the laptop is being particularly cranky now; and I have to pack it it soon, and it needs time to cool down.

Just let me say it has been a very refreshing retreat, a challenging retreat, a prayerful retreat, and a retreat full of good fellowship.  The day I spent gazing at the sea; the evenings looking up at a star filled night.  Once is reminded of the beauty, and awesomeness of God, who created all this, and yet still cares for each one us, who loves each one of us.

More later.

Reflection on the Readings for the First Sunday of Lent – 2015

Noah and the rainbow

Genesis 9:8-15
Psalm 25: 4-5, 6-7, 8-9 (10)
1 Peter 3: 18-22
Mark 1: 12-15
The story of Noah and the Ark has in many ways become a child’s fairy tale. Most depictions of the story are like a cartoon, showing friendly animals, lining up two by two, to enter the Ark. We see Noah and his family, smiling as they welcome the creatures coming towards them. Yet, like most of our modern fairy tales, the origin of the story of the Ark; the deeper meaning of the story, can be grim and frightening.

We see God, looking out at the humanity that inhabits His world and seeing only evil and corruption. Like a potter, unhappy with the pottery he has made, God intends to destroy His creation, wipe the slate clean. Yet, God is a creator, not a destroyer. While He intends to wipe out the evil, He sees the good that still exists, exists in Noah and his family. So God saves a remnant of humanity, and insures their survival. And in Noah and his family, humanity is reborn, life begins again. And the Creator promises never to destroy all humanity again, and the rainbow is the sign of that promise. He will seek another way to save His people from the power of sin.

And that way is found in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who, through His death and resurrection, freed all humanity, past, present, and those yet to come from the power, and the consequences of sin. And with that freedom, with the fulfillment of the promise the Father made to His creation, the “kingdom of God is at hand.”

This is the Good News that Jesus is calling us to accept and believe. To believe that God does love this world, loves us; loves us so much He gave us His Son to save us, to heal us. That kind of love calls for a response from us, and that response is to change our lives, to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, to live the Gospel!

The season of Lent is meant to be a time of preparation, a time of reflection, a time of conversion. A reflection on what our lives have been, and to see, in light of the Gospel, what needs to be changed. And we prepare our hearts to be open to experience the joy, and wonder of Easter morning, to celebrate the love of God