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Friday, April 29, 2011
I had no plans to comment on today’s royal wedding. Truthfully, I had plans to avoid it altogether, even though my lovely wife is an avowed anglophile. She loves all things English. Maybe it’s because her grandfather came from Liverpool, I don’t know. She went to a high tea yesterday in honor of the royal wedding, and you can be sure she was up at the wee hours to watch the big event.

Me? Not so much. But the TV was on all morning as I got ready for work, and I must admit that the regality and pageantry were fascinating to watch, even peripherally as I did. When I heard the first few sentences of the message, delivered by the Rt. Reverend Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, I quickly strode over the TV to catch the rest.

Was I really hearing what I thought I was hearing?
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So said St. Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.

Wow, this guy really had it right, I thought. I guess I didn’t have very high expectations that anything meaningful would come out of the event, but here was a high church official who really understood about biblical marriage.

And it got better. A minute later he said this:
William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.

A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.

It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centredness. And people can dream of doing such a thing but if the hope should be fulfilled it is necessary a solemn decision that, whatever the difficulties, we are committed to the way of generous love.

There it was, much of my message about marriage. And by some estimates two billion (that with a B) people were hearing it. He used different words than I do, but he was telling the whole world how marriage is a reflection of Jesus and the church. And how that means we are live a life of love that reaches beyond our selves; generous, selfless, sacrificial love.

He went on to say more things I could have said, and have said here, though not quite so eloquently and certainly not with such a nice accent.
Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom.

And I probably didn’t spell harbour with the “our.” Actually I'm sure I didn’t even use the word harbour. Still, the idea that you need to work on you is huge and so against the prevailing cultural norm. This was no watered down sermon. I loved it!

And next:
As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden.

I have to admit I’ve actually never really thought of this. How as we move away from God, we place demands on our spouse that they become our all in all, filling our every need, essentially becoming “our substitute savior.”

And lastly, as message of grace.
We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive; we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.

I would be hard pressed to write a more poignant and concise message on marriage as God designed it. It was full of grace and truth, yet very accessible and inoffensive.

Brilliant, as some of my British friends like to say. Simply brilliant.

Do you agree? How did it the royal wedding message strike you?


Beth Templeton said...

Scott, I so agree with you. I had no expectations--actually I had negative expectations that this sermon would have such truth proclaimed through it. I am thankful to have expected wrongly! It was a beautiful and powerful proclamation of the truth. Thanks for writing out some of the text for us.

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