One of the great challenges of talking about something in public is figuring out what you would like to say. It forces you to think about a subject on many levels and find words that fit your experience and your insight. It’s never easy.
I’ve spent a lot of time the last few months thinking about relationship.
The pastor of my UCC church and his partner, the music director, are retiring at the end of this month. Mike and Vince have been married for 25 years in the deepest sense of the word, but not the legal sense. The marriage equality ruling by the Supreme Court last year gave them the opportunity to remedy that part.
I got to marry them on Sunday at the end of our service – the first time I’ve married anyone.
When Mike and Vince asked me to do the honor, my reaction was two-fold. First, I was deeply touched — they could have asked any number of others. I think I teared up a bit and thanked them and said yes, of course I would.
I don’t marry just anybody
And then I told them of my second reaction: We would have to have some meetings between now and then. I’m not going to go marrying just anybody, after all. I need to know they’re a good fit for one another.
Those words made them a little uneasy, until I laughed and told them I was joking about the meeting part.
As I mentioned at the service on Sunday, we already know that they’re a good fit. Mike pointed out that the marriage service was just a formality, and that’s true. But the more I thought about it, the more I recognized that every wedding ceremony is a formality in a sense. It doesn’t create anything new, per se. Rather, it recognizes and blesses what’s already there, what everybody knows has been there for a long time.
We know what’s there.
In Vince’s case, we all know that he’s given so much of himself to all of us in so many ways. He’s given us his time, his talent, his love. And he’s given us his beautiful, beautiful music, which has touched our hearts and our souls and lives in our hearts and our souls as does he.
With Mike, it’s the same thing. He’s given so much of himself to all of us in so many ways. He’s given us his time, his talent, his love. And he’s given us his beautiful, beautiful words which live in our hearts and souls as does he.
Given to each other first
And we recognize that the reason why they’ve been able to give so much of themselves to us is because they’ve first given those things to each other. That’s what relationship is about.
Love never exists in a vacuum. It takes a village to grow love between people. Love never is confined to just two. The love they give each other makes them grow into more loving people who have more love to give away. Love always gives itself away. And couples need the love of others to help the two of them grow as well.
We all give love and get love from so many people. Love is a perfect circle of imperfect people, trying their best to love how they can on any given day.
Rings are wonderful symbols of that process. Like God’s love, a ring has no starting point and no ending point. We wear it every day. It encircles us and enfolds us in all we do.
We did it together
So after Mike and Vince exchanged rings, we did what we always do in our amazing little church – we did this marriage thing together. And it went like this:
- By the power vested in all of us by the United Church of Christ, which believes in love always …
- By the power vested in all of us by the state of Ohio, which charged me $15 to get a license to do this …
- By the power vested in all of us by the Supreme Court of the United States of America … And we all knew there were many times when Mike and Vince thought they’d never get to hear those words pronounced over them, so it was repeated – by the power vested in all of us by the Supreme Court of the United States of America, hashtag love wins …
- And by the grace and love of God who is love, we pronounce, proclaim, recognize, bless and celebrate all that they are, all that they have been, and all that they shall be.
And we wished them many, many, many more years of this perfect pairing of music and words, heart and soul, all bound together by love. By their love for each other, our love for them, and God’s love for all of us.
Amen. And woo hoo.