I love the readings that you have selected for your wedding. They are beautiful scripture passages that truly speak about the meaning of marriage. You don’t hear these as often as some others because when we think about marriage, we tend to be drawn to readings that talk about love.
Maybe we think about Song of Songs:
“Hark! My lover – here he comes springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills…”
Or how about Saint Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians:
“Love is patient, love is kind.”
And don’t forget St. John’s Gospel:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.”
These are all beautiful readings. They quite clearly talk about love, but so do the readings that Meagan and Eric have selected. You see, as I listened to today’s readings the theme that jumps out is service and, from the Christian point of view, service and love are the same thing.
Our culture today teaches us that love is about me – how I feel and what I get. That’s wrong. Love is not about how my wife makes me feel; it’s about how I make make her feel. It’s not about what you get; it’s about what you give – and when a husband and wife both buy into this way of thinking, their marriage is filled with love.
My Granny Ginny said it like this:
“You shouldn’t get married until you find someone whose happiness is more important to you than your own and your happiness is more important to them than their own.”
So, Meagan and Eric, I’m not surprised that a volunteer fire fighter and someone who works with animals chose readings about service. I know that the two of you understand what I am saying about service and love, but I would like to offer you a little advice inspired by St. Paul.
First, Anticipate one another’s needs. This sounds obvious, but sometimes in our day to day grind, it’s easy to forget to look out for each other. A little help around the house without being asked or a helping hand when it wasn’t expected can be a real boost when things get hectic. Small things can mean a lot when day to day life is trying to pull you apart. This is very important when little ones join your family.
Second, Do not grow slack in zeal. You both know that you are loved by the other, but it always nice to be told. Holding hands, a hug or a kiss on the cheek reinforce the bond that the two of you share. They can also turn your day around when things aren’t going your way.
Years ago, my wife and I served on a marriage prep team with a couple in their eighties. Bill and Dora were their names. They swore that the secret to their long and happy marriage was the small signs of affection that they constantly shared with each other. Two stand out for me. Whenever Dora packed a lunch for Bill, she would write a short love note and put it in the bag. Bill would often write a little love note on the bathroom mirror in lipstick for Dora to find.
Third, Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction. We all know that in this life, there are good times and bad. Share in each other’s accomplishments and encourage each other in your individual interests – even when you don’t share that interest. For example, my wife has a passion for running. I don’t. However, I make it a point to support and encourage her. Serving her, even from the sidelines, strengthens our relationship, so that when we are presented with some kind of trial, serving each other is second nature. This is particularly important when teenagers are in the house.
Finally, Persevere in prayer. Start developing a habit of prayer and worship together now. Grace before meals and prayer before bed are perfect places to start. Find a routine that works for both of you and go with it. God wants to be a part of your marriage – but only if you let him. The foundation that you establish now will naturally pass to your children.
In theology, when we study the ways the God gives us grace, Marriage is grouped with Holy Orders under the heading “Sacraments at the Service of Communion.” Now it’s easy to see how a pastor serves the world as he lives his ordained life. But, when we live as husband and wife serving each other and our family in love, we also serve the world by being a light and an example.