Sunday, September 8, 2019

Renewal of Vows: Matthew Wright and Yanick Savain

Holy Cross MonasteryWest Park, NY
Br. Aidan Owen, OHC
Renewal of Vows: Matthew Wright and Yanick Savain
Sunday, September 8, 2019

Click here for an audio version of the sermon.

In the name of the One God, who is Lover, Beloved, and Love Overflowing.

"Maw-age. Maw-age is what brings us together today."

I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself. Because, joking aside, marriage is what brings us together today. Specifically, your marriage, Matthew and Yanick, which is a foretaste for all of us of the marriage of heaven and earth, of the full and final unity of all creation with the One who loves us, sustains us, and makes us whole.

In the weeks and months leading up to this celebration, we’ve all spoken in shorthand of your wedding. But that’s not what we’re here for. Today is not your wedding, and it’s also not about your wedding. Today is about your marriage. And that’s something else altogether.

Today, we, your friends and family, and yes, the whole creation, too, rejoice with you at the wonderful work that God has done and is continuing to do in and through your marriage.

Over the last five years, it’s been an incredible privilege for me to witness the slow flowering of your vowed life together. Your union is that rarest of gems: a truly sacramental marriage. Which is to say, an outward sign of the commitment and love that God has for each of us. In and through your love for one another, you each grow in your love for God and in your understanding of God’s love for you. And you demonstrate that possibility for the rest of us.

But more particularly it is in your commitment to one another, in the stability of your vows that you flourish. You might say that having bound yourselves to one another, your hearts have slowly grafted together. Like a wound bound tight so that it can heal, your vows have bound together all the fragments of your lives and your hearts. And in that gathering and binding together, God has begun to make your two hearts into one heart focused in love on the one who is Love itself. We here today recognize, celebrate, and support you in the unifying quest that—God willing—you have barely begun.

Today we also celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Now, ordinarily I wouldn’t even go there in a marriage sermon, but I know how important this feast day is for both you. The Feast of Mary’s birth is one of only three birth feasts in the church calendar. The others being the Nativity of John the Baptist and, of course, Christmas. Mostly we celebrate folks on the day they died. But we as the Christian people recognize that in Mary’s birth a new age has begun. The door of morning has opened a crack, and the light has begun to shine in the world in an altogether new way.

A few weeks ago Matthew told me that because of the way a child forms in the womb, a woman’s eggs are fully accounted for late in her mother’s pregnancy. He was so excited, as only Matthew can get, and he said, “Can you imagine it!? That means that much of the essence of who you are was actually present in your grandmother’s womb!?”

It is, actually, an astonishing thing to ponder. That some important piece of who each of us has become and is becoming was present two generations before our birth.

So, too, for Anne, Mary, and Jesus. Imagine, a small and important seed of the person Jesus became present in his grandmother Anne’s womb. God yearning, even in the shadows of time, to be born into the world in Jesus. And for decades, really for century upon century, God yearning to make herself known to creation, and to draw all the world into the perfect wholeness of Love.

So it is, too, with each of us. God has been yearning from before the beginning of time to be born in us, as us. God has, for generations, been longing to be known as the sweet, tender man who would be Matthew and as the fierce, passionate woman who would be Yanick. God yearning through Becky and Tony, through Maria and Bernard, and countless generations, all the way even to Jesus and Mary and Anne, to Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, all the way to the beginning of time, to be known as you, in you, through you. Take that in for a moment.

If God yearns to be born in each of us and as each of us, then surely, my dear friends, God also yearns to be born in and through your marriage. To be known in a particular and incarnate way in the love you have for one another and in the life you make together.

As I know you know, your marriage is not ultimately for the two of you alone. It is a sign of God’s love for the world. Your marriage is a witness that God’s joy really is in us, and that in union with one another and with God, our own hearts can relax and open like the rose warmed by the sun. Your marriage is a witness that wholeness and healing and grace are as much a reality as the violence and chaos that plague our broken world.

May your marriage be a sign of hope in a hurting world,
A table richly laid for the feast of Love,
A soft bed for the weary traveler,
A cool hand on a burning forehead,
A star shining in the night sky, pointing the way home,
And the door of morning, opening to the light of the world.

May your marriage be one heart, and that one Christ’s, beating continually the rhythm of love in and for the whole creation.

I know it has been all of these and more for me, and for countless others. May it continue to be so for you, and for all of us, as well.

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