This past Friday, with great joy, I presided at the wedding of my dear friends Jason and Hana Lowe. Here is the message I shared.
I Corinthians 13:1-13
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Everyone loves this passage from Corinthians,
but there is something hard there.
It sounds wonderful, but it does not sound easy,
this selfless love.
It is not selflessness in the sense of loss, but a recognition that your true self
is something greater – something more – than this
bounded, mortal individual.
In a very real way love crosses the borders
between one person and another,
between each of us and God.
The love of Hana and Jason, has brought them together.
In it, they see a chance to become more than they are alone.
And through it, they come closer to understanding
what it means to love truly.
In marriage, we let go of isolation, and recognize that we are one.
It is a mystery and perhaps a miracle.
And many would try to convince you that it cannot be done,
that you cannot transcend yourself,
particularly in this age of individualism.
And they would be right to warn you about losing yourself.
It is not good to give up on all that God has called you to be
as an individual – your gifts and talents.
There is a you that will always be just you.
But these things can be so much more
when joined with the gifts and talents of another.
And so, in the church we have rituals and practices,
rites and sacraments,
That both celebrate this union
and help us to achieve it,
to transcend ourselves.
I must warn you, though.
It will take work to let this love overcome all else,
to recognize grace and fellowship growing within you,
to make decisions, not for one another, but with one another,
to discover that “my way” or “your way” can be replaced with our way,
to bear one another and bear with one another.
It will take daily effort to uphold what is in each one of you individually,
while feeding the spirit of oneness;
to seek to understand the other as they are,
while reaching for what you both can be together.
Love takes trust, courage, and commitment;
Trust that in letting go of yourself you will discover
that you are greater than you could have imagined,
both together and apart;
Courage to speak truly to one another,
to open your hearts and be vulnerable;
Commitment to work with one another,
even when that work seems the most difficult;
for better for worse,
for richer for poorer,
in sickness and in health.
Know that times of trial, need, and sickness
will challenge your commitment to one another.
You will ask “Why am I tied to this person?”
“The weight of them seems too much.”
Know that times of success, riches, and health
will also challenge you.
You will ask “Why do I need them?”
“I can manage on my own.”
But through all of this, remember what you mean to each other,
a friend in adversity and a constant companion,
a hand to comfort and an ear to listen,
a little bit of you that’s more than you alone,
and a little bit of the outside world,
as close as your own heart.
I ask you to look deep into one another’s hearts.
Dare to hope that this person will fulfill you,
in your fulfillment of them.
Work hard to make that hope a reality.
Know also that this is only the very beginning.
We find it almost impossible to imagine the idea of true oneness with God;
And yet we strive for this greater life,
we struggle to have true love for all,
as God loved us, truly and fully.
May your marriage open your hearts to the possibility
of loving each and every person you meet.
No other person can be to you what you are to one another,
but there is a place in your heart for all,
a place that will only grow stronger, and warmer, and fuller,
because you love one another,
and strengthen one another.
Today, we have an opportunity to see two become one,
and to see what love may do.