There are times, in celebrating the Eucharist, when I feel transcendent—my feet may be on the ground but I somehow transcend time and place. At other times the celebration is routine, a set of practice rituals. The marriage sacrament is like this. There will be moments in a marriage when it seems magical—that within your private world all the wonders of the universe are somehow within reach. But much of the time marriage will bring the comfort of familiar routine, of making sense of the mystery of two people weaving their lives together.
Marriage is the most time bound and most timeless of the sacraments—it occurs at a particular moment but it is made real over a long period. An ontological change, a change in the essence of those coming together in marriage, occurs over the lifetime of a marriage. It is made apparent in the moment when vows are exchanged and all the documents are signed, but it is made concrete over a lifetime.
Marriage includes a commitment to change the future. You are telling the world that you have confidence that your lives together give more meaning to each other’s life than any other relationship possibly can. You send out ripples into the broader community that something greater than living as individuals in the moment is not only possible but essential in the ongoing world of making visible the shalom kingdom. You don’t bring perfection into the world, and being married doesn’t make things perfect in a relationship, but you do bring more hope and delight into the world. The community gathers with you, whether in a private civil ceremony or in a large gathering of friends and family, to not only share in the celebration but to remember that we are called to be a loving and compassionate community.
There are a few pieces of advice I want to give to the bride and groom.
The first is to remember that you are physical beings. Our creator expects you to enjoy all of life’s gifts.
The second is to remember to take time for both yourself and for each other. You are both individuals and a shared essence.
The third, and final, is to remember that you should engage in true mutual obedience—this does not mean following orders but listening to the way each other lives in the world, the personal story each of you is sharing.
May you always find wonder in your lives.
Apegish wii-zhawenimik Manidoo (I hope you are blessed by the Creator)