Monday, August 30, 2010

Scary Words

"Until death do you part."

I have to admit, those are kind of scary words. It's kind of like when someone looks you in the eye and says: Do you really, really mean it. "Until death" is, of course, the signature ending of a traditional wedding vow. But have you ever stopped and wondered why until death? Why forever?

I want to suggest that Christian Marriage is a life-long covenant because it is intended to reflect the enduring love that God has for God's children. God will not grow tired of us. God will not give up on trying to love us. God's love is always enduring. And so it is that Christian marriage serves as a mirror image of this always loving God. Through vows of covenant and commitment, the Christian marriage witnesses to to the One who will not leave us nor forsake us.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Marriage and the Importance of Ritual and Symbol

In 1967 the Beatles first proclaimed all you need is love. These words have since then been sung probably a hundred-thousand times over. In their simplicity, these five words capture deep truth. Much wrong and evil in the world could be alleviated if only we could muster a little more love for one another. Although there is truth behind all you need is love, I want to suggest that it's inevitably not enough - that we need more than just love. Love doesn't always stand on its own two feet. Human love is fragile and is too often overcome by things like pride, lack of empathy, and hatred.

The human determination to love needs help along the way. This, I believe, is where ritual and symbol become invaluable. Ritual gives rhythm to our lives that are sometimes overly directed by feeling and emotion. Ritual helps us to love when we don't feel like loving the other. Ritual is that thing you do when you don't feel like doing it. Likewise, symbols help us to remember our commitments of love despite how little we feel. For example, a wedding band serves as a physical reminder that one is bound to a life-long covenant of love to his or her spouse. The ring is an outward confession of what is sometimes difficult to uphold internally. Ritual and symbol stand out-side one's self, reminding us and holding us accountable to the faithful commitments that partners have made with one another.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Affirmation of Community

One of the defining characteristics that makes a Christian Marriage unique from all other relationships is the prominent role of the community. There is no getting around this. A Christian Marriage involves much more than the declaration of love between two people. Those family and friends that gather to witness the exchanging of vows are not mere passive bystanders; rather, they are active participants in the covenant being created.

In the picture above Carol and I are sort of awkwardly looking in the direction of our friends and family. The picture was taken during the Affirmation of Community (otherwise known as Congregational Blessing). Here, the congregation has an opportunity to make a communal covenant with the couple. It's essentially a vow that the community makes with the soon to be husband and wife. Here are the words addressed to the congregation:

"The new relationship between Ric and Carol has created many changes as each of them takes on the concerns, involvements, and family of the other. They are both excited in the broadening of their lives, and at the same time, they have realized it requires adjustments and accommodations in their other relationship and interests. Will you as their families and friends now support them in their new commitment and relationship? Will you give help, guidance, and encouragement as you are able? Will you respect their independence, honor their decisions, forgive their failures, and rejoice in their successes? Will you love them as your son and daughter, as your brother and sister, and as your friends? If so, respond together: 'We Will.'"

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Big Day

Much has happened since I last posted. For starters, the lovely miss Bommhardt and I were wedded on July 18th. The weather was perfect, the venue breathtaking, and Carol was even more breathtakingly beautiful. To top it all off, many of my closest friends and family were there to witness and celebrate along with us. Basically, it was the best day of my life!

This post begins the first of several reflections having to do with my wedding day and marriage in general. I need space to unpack some important things that I have experienced, or thought more deeply about in the last month. I'll also be posting some more pictures which may or may not have already been seen on Facebook. In the mean time, enjoy just a few of my favorite pictures taken from the big day.