Friday, September 20, 2013

A Wedding Sermon

In honor of the Wedding of Tim Carrigan and Brian Frye
September 14, 2013
A reading from the first book of Samuel
Excerpted from 1 Samuel chapters 18 and 20 (NRSV)

When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him; as a result, Saul set him over the army. And all the people, even the servants of Saul, approved. Thus Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord seek out the enemies of David.” Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him; for he loved him as he loved his own life.  Jonathan said to him . . . “The Lord is witness between you and me forever.” Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, since both of us have sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants, forever.’”
Jonathan met David and loved him. We are talking about King David, of David and Goliath fame – the celebrated king and warlord of Hebrew Scripture. Jonathan is the Son of David’s predecessor – King Saul. Jonathan met David and loved him.  And David loved him back. Scripture says their souls were knit together. It was not simply a spiritual thing; it was physical as well. Jonathan loved David with body and spirit. The ancient Hebrews did not distinguish between body and soul like we do. Jonathan and David loved each other completely.

The scripture reading Tim and Brian picked tells us that that Jonathan and David make a covenant. As a sign of his commitment, Jonathan takes off everything he’s wearing and gives it all to David. He takes off his sword and bow and offers them to David, signifying that he intends to protect David. But it goes further than that. Jonathan takes off all of his clothes, which honors a much deeper and more intense relationship. It’s a sign of vulnerability. A signal of trust. A symbol of intimacy. A covenant of union. Jonathan met David and loved him. Completely.

Weddings are all about symbols of complete union and love. We know, however, that this has not always been an equal opportunity celebration. The silencing of gay and lesbian Christians has been the norm in church worship and civil law for most of our history. To silence others, to call someone unworthy of God’s love and grace is a breach of the baptismal covenant. As one author has said, the Church, in silencing gay and lesbian children of God makes the waters of baptism a whirlpool of death because it sends gays and lesbians out of the Church believing they are less than children of God.

We are about something else here today. We are claiming for Tim and Brian, and anyone and everyone who comes through these doors, that there is wholeness, belonging, and honor for all God’s people. Baptism is a sacrament of equality and a mark of acceptance. Baptism is a means of grace, hope, and justice that starts our journeys of faith. We are co-creating a safe place for all people to celebrate their love, their vulnerability, their intimacy . . . their union. Our church is not offering a patronizing kindness. It’s a commitment made on mutuality and equality, humility and respect, the desire for truth telling and justice seeking. We celebrate a baptismal vision of radical equality.

Baptism is a declaration. In this congregation’s baptism liturgy, I ask that parents teach their children to follow the ways of Christ in concert with an appreciation for religious diversity. In baptism, we declare that God loves you. We declare that because of God’s love, we want to express love in return. In baptism, we share life together in Christ. In some ways, marriage is an extension of the promises made at one’s baptism. Today, Tim and Brian declare that, before all the people, they celebrate a covenant of love and union with each other. Today we are reminded that God’s love is seen in the love Tim and Brian share. Their union with Christ is witnessed in their union with one another. The care God promises is seen in the care that Tim and Brian show to each other.

Like Jonathan and David in days of old, Tim and Brian will share symbols of their covenant. In the sacred tradition of marriage, they will exchange rings -- symbols of eternal love and endless union of body, of mind, and of the spirit. Tim and Brian, whenever you look at those rings, I hope that you remember that your souls are knit together with trust and protection; vulnerability and intimacy; love and union.

As Anna and Caitlyn Carrigan offer music, we will present Tim and Brian’s rings to the baptismal font. Mary Carrigan, Tim’s Mom, and Beverly Taylor, Brian’s Mom, will pour water into the baptismal font. Then Tim and Brian will then come forward and present their rings. The baptismal promises made by their parents when they were babies find new expression in the rings Tim and Brian will wear. They are symbols of justice and equality. Symbols of mutuality and respect. Symbols of union, love, and care.

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