Dr. John Mark Reynolds has posted the homily from our wedding on his blog–I was planning to also make it the first post for me as well. In essence, Dr. Reynolds said for our wedding exactly what I had been thinking (yes, that does sound presumptious!) when I chose the readings. On the eve of our wedding, I told the rehearsal dinner party that the entire service had been crafted to make clear that the love Charity and I share is but a reflection of the love of Christ for us. Dr. Reynolds drove the point home on Saturday. Anyone who knows my wife knows that she, more than any woman I’ve ever met, is fit to be the “warrior queen” Reynolds describes.
But, without further ado, Dr. John Mark Reynolds (copied in full with permission):
Homily for Mealman/Anderson Wedding
June 25th 2005 by JM Reynolds
We have been reminded by the readings of the Great Marriage that is to come – the Marriage that even this happy occasion can merely foreshadow. For no matter how perfect, even this day carries with it the petty imperfections that mark and mar every event this side of Paradise. Just this week my wife and I celebrated 19 years together – years marked by God and marred by our sinfulness – but years that have enriched us and made us eager for the Perfect Wedding that is to come.
May you both share a fraction of our joy – and come with us to greater feast – there with eyes made strong to see the shining glory of His wedding. But that hope is not yet – that perfect culmination still to come. It can be talked about and even dimly experienced, but it is not yet and we live now. So what of now?
Three weeks ago almost to the day, I stood on the island of Patmos in the very cave in which church history tells us John saw the Lord and heard His thunder. My soul cried out to God as I heard His faithful servants still speaking and singing the praises of God in that place. I thought of the old man, the last living of the disciples, the last of the friends of Jesus, exiled. Tortured. Nearly alone. And yet still found in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. Christ can come to such a man – faithful, full of love and not just talk. Christ did appear to him and showed the old man great and mysterious things. And yet when the last seal was broken, the last trumpet sounded, and the last “Amen” written by his scribe Monday would have come to John on Patmos. He still would have been exiled, old, broken – and so what difference did it make? Diocletian still ruled in Rome. What did the great Revelation matter?
The answer, it seems to me, has a great deal to say about this Sacrament of Marriage we are seeing here today. To some marriage has become a great party – an excuse to justify actions most have taken earlier – or worse, an excuse to compete, to see who can have the biggest and most elaborate event. Relatives are keeping score – and the credit card bills will not come for a month. Now there is nothing wrong with a party – the Kingdom of Heaven is going to a great one and I hope we will soon be enjoying a foretaste of that event. But there must be more to a party than the party – what are we partying for? In the same way the big noise and flash of the Revelation – with verbal effects not even Peter Jackson could visually match – has to be for something or it is just noise and not very comforting.
Did John wake up with a spiritual hangover on Monday morning? God forbid we even think it! The outer vision of the Revelator was matched by an inner work of the heart. The entire world was spiritually changed, least for John, that Sunday on Patmos. The Roman madman Diocletian might bully and posture for another few years, but John knew that Jesus was Lord! John had spiritually entered the Heavenly Kingdom and there was no going back – he had seen the Truth as last.
In the same way, in a manner you will only dimly grasp, at this time and on this day Matt and Charity will enter into the reality of the wedding feast that is coming. Today, as a bride, Charity is all of us – the pure Church clothed in white – and Matt, unworthy as we all are, stands as an image of that greater bridegroom. As Matt receives Charity so Christ will receive us. This is a great mystery – and it is an exciting thought.
Today each one of us must renew our vows. Each husband must repent of failure, I most of all, and vow to show the inner truth plainly by laying his life down for his beloved. Each wife must turn her heart to her husband and vow eternal faithfulness to him. What God has joined together no man can put asunder. And those blessed with singleness can freely image the Great Love to the Heavenly Lover. We are all brides to Him in the end. His great I AM reducing the rest of us to an echo of the most perfect brides – “be it done unto me according to Your will.”
And so we are left with this parting word to the couple before us. You are both precious to us – good, brilliant, and holy. We know you are not perfect – but love helps us see each of you as Christ sees you. Charity, do not forget that submission is not an easy vow. It is part of the bloodless martyrdom of marriage. It does not mean destruction of self – but the affirmation that bending the knee is the first step to great honor. Matt is your lord – and you will be his lady – not simpering and docile, but a fierce warrior queen. You can be like Judith, Esther, or Mary – greater by being who you are. And knowing this great lady, with a fine mind and virtuous soul, is enough to humble any lord. So it should be for you, Matthew – lost in the wonder that she would willingly, for God knows you have no right in merit, tie her fortunes to yours and take your name, such as it is. But of course, like all of us mulish men you know this with your head, but not yet fully with your heart. It will be the years of laying down your life for her that will teach you. Pride will be your greatest foe – never demand her fealty – but simply love her and watch her voluntary service with joy. If Christ could humble Himself to die for us as our better, how much more should you die to every other passion and serve Charity – always moved by charity to Charity.
Each one of us who witness this event feel bittersweet. For some of us it marks the passing of time – were we ever so young?! For others it reminds us of failure. Broken vows. New starts. Small selfishness that seem obscene in this Holy Place and Time. But the good news is this – One who is Ever Young will make all of us New, if we will know Him. One who never breaks a vow will come and keep His word and take us to His home and give us His name. The very scars of our sins He will mysteriously transform into the birthmarks of our new birth.
There is such a wedding coming! Matt and Charity – you will fight and fail – but He will never oppose this vow you make to Him today. From this day forward He is on the side of you two! He will never forget – He sees! Both of you had to give up lesser goods, and some evils that aped the good, to stand here today. Most in our culture never get to this place, because they will not go on to Patmos – by moving on. They would hang on to childish pleasures and lose this thing. Having begun well – end well – move forward in joy. Keep giving up and you will get more together – and then on some sad day death will part you. A final giving up – the greatest loss it will seem. Only persist and you will see – you will close your eyes in sorrow only to open them in joy – and you will be together with all God’s saints in a Wedding and a Marriage that will never end. Today is your Patmos, your revelation that will be your divine culmination. Joy, feasting, love. Grand and glorious charity that will never end so long as Christ rules and God is true.