It was once said by Dietrich Bonhoeffer that the wedding day is the moment when God adds a “Yes” and an “I Do” to your “Yes” and “I Do.”
It was about a year ago, when I receive a Facebook message from Kyle asking me if I was up for a road trip over to Maryland to officiate this most special of days. He said it was important that he and Megan had someone preside over this ceremony that knew how important the Appalachia Service Project was to them (someone that shared their love of service) and of course it was important that this person appreciate their coffee as well.
So, I stand before you today as both chaplain and patron of Kao Jai Coffee, I can honestly say that it is privilege and a joy to be here today, gathered with you, Kyle and Megan, surrounded by your family and your friends that you love so well to witness the moment when God blesses you both with that ”Yes” and “I Do”.
Now, something big is happening right now.
Genesis chapter 2 tells us that when two people are joined together in the presence of God. When they become, “Bone of my bone… Flesh of my flesh” that indeed something changes in their fabric of being.
You both have been together, already, through thick and thin, adventures together and apart, near and far. So you might not feel the change happening yet…
But today you are not only paired to each other… legally, officially… but you are glued together with God’s love in covenant. Which is so much more powerful than even the overwhelming bliss and beauty of this blessed moment in time.
When God adds a “Yes” and an “I Do” into the mix, God creates out of your love and devotion and passion for each other something new – and that is a marriage. From now on it is not your love that will sustain this marriage, but it is the marriage that will sustain you love. Because God is part of that.
Now we are all extremely excited to be celebrating with you/ to see your happiness gushing out. But we must remember… that our celebration here is, first and foremost, an act of worship… because God is at work in our midst. Making you both into something new, and brilliant, and beautiful, and difficult, and important, and (most of all) something that will act as beacon for God’s love in this world.
Already, your individual lives, and your relationship has been a strong witness to the love, peace, grace and justice that our Lord calls us to pursue in this life. But in your marriage, infused with God’s blessing, you two will shine even brighter.
Kyle and Megan, I pray that you trust in God everyday! So that, not only will, God provide everything that you need to keep this relationship strong and joyous… but that your marriage will live as a witness for what God can and is doing in the rest of this world. Flooding it with a divine, perfect love.
Now, for the fun part, some words of wisdom from your ASP family. I had a great time over the past couple of weeks rustling up some of our ASP alumni to ask them this question: How did ASP prepare you for marriage? And here are just a few of the answers that I got…
- From Wyeth and Christina Lawson: The old adage “never go to bed angry” is complete crap. Sometimes, you just need to put an end to that staff meeting. Put the complex room addition plans aside and find an easy underpinning project to occupy the volunteer’s time so you can go. to. bed. Wake up refreshed and ready to revisit the argument. This also applies to “hangriness.” Life will inevitably throw you challenges, some you might find particularly hard to see eye to eye on, but work to never take anything too seriously. Throw on a costume, run a fake border patrol, and know that, as long as you respect one another and have access to some biscuits and gravy, you can get through pretty much anything.
- From Becca Davis: ASP taught me to accept people right where they are, just the way they are. I have learned to accept myself as an imperfect (yet passionate and committed) wife and mother, and to accept my husband’s flaws (and to even find them endearing) because he is an incredible partner and father. ASP is about loving people, and certainly, so is marriage!
- From Ben and Nancy Martin: You never leave staffing behind…Never. You will always be a member of the ASP family. That means you have a ton of support and people to lean on no matter where you live. Also, brace yourselves, and we hope that you love each other’s war stories about the summers… because you are going to hear about them a lot. [like…A LOT]. There will be mini reunions when their past staff members come to visit and you need to be ready to here that story about the time this volunteer messed up a project so much… but your spouse was Hossome and took care of the whole situation.
- From Tim Bomgardener: [It’s all about trust, passion and creativity]. You have to trust the other person to do what they say they will do, but be willing to forgive them when they fall short of those expectations. [and vice a versa]. The passion piece is what makes it all worthwhile. Part of the reason you join ASP staff is for your passion to serve others and do the work no matter how hard it is. Passion will give you the ability to move to a whole new level… operate in overdrive for [months at a time] and still love what you do.
- From Jeremy and Allision Pace: ASP is also a sort of microcosm of married life in general. You love the people you live with, but occasionally you think “what the heck is wrong with him/her” and you have to work through some crummy stuff. But ultimately you weather every storm and it [just keeps getting] better and better.
- And pretty much everybody mentioned Long Range Plans, but the Lawson’s said it best: Make long-range plans. [Then] in five years, laugh about how irrelevant and naive they were.
- And finally, from me: ASP taught me that the more that you learn about/ and experience the love that Christ has for us, the more you will understand your own relationships/ and how to love others.
So if you, Kyle and Megan, if you wish to learn how to love one another as partners in this life in such a way that the quality of your love continues to grow everyday, stronger and stronger, then serve God together, love each other / and others together, bear peace, justice and the grace of God wherever this journey takes you. And work hard to create your “porch” wherever you land. And remember, just as I read at the beginning of the ceremony… “God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God- and God remains in them.”