Sermon – June 7, 2014
The Rev. Rebecca S. Myers, CSW
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Corbin, KY
Marriage of William Robert Hibbitts and Amber Hannah Pearce
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. John 15:9-12
Please be seated.
Well, here we are…a day we’ve been waiting for and planning for. Nearly a year ago, when all of the details were still being worked out about my coming to Corbin, Billy and Amber participated in one of the most important events of my life. They traveled to Washington, DC and attended my ordination to the priesthood. They represented the community of St. John’s Episcopal Church. Their being there meant so much to me and of course I made sure they sat with my greatest supporters at the luncheon afterwards!
Over the ensuing year, the plans for this wedding have emerged and all of us have watched as their lives have unfolded in new ways, culminating in this day where they stand before us and before God, making public proclamation of their love for each other and making a covenant with each other in marriage.
Since Billy and Amber asked me to do the homily for this day, I’ve been thinking and praying, asking God what needs to be heard today. A couple of days ago, I was reminded of a book that sat by my mother’s bedside. She had her book of Psalms, which provided great comfort to her. And a little black book with a ribbon in it, called The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese Christian.
My mother said the writings in the book meant a lot to her. Many times I picked up that book and tried to read it, but it made no sense to me, until I was close to graduating from high school. Then I started to understand it. Like my mother, many of its words have stayed with me and seem appropriate to this occasion.
First of all, Gregory and Yvonnia and Conley and Barbara Ann, you have given Billy and Amber their foundation. You loved them, nurtured them, and guided them. You were examples to them. No, you weren’t perfect human beings . . . none of us are. If you’re like me, as parents you know where you made some mistakes or wished you’d done something different. Yet, you gave them the best of yourselves.
Hear what Gibran writes about children:
Your children are not your children
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer, [God], sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as [God] loves the arrow that flies, so [God] loves also the bow that is stable.
While your children have been adults for a number of years, today your children are launched into a new life, with your teachings as their foundation, yet building something new.
And Billy and Amber…you now bring this foundation of love from your families together into a new creation. Love can be difficult…Gibran writes:
When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.
When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
…To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
Billy and Amber, love has directed your course. During your time together, each of you have made decisions based upon your love for each other and your desire to create a life together. Some of these decisions were not easy. You know how love has descended “to your roots” and shaken them “in their clinging to the earth.” You know how love has crowned you with blessings beyond your wildest dreams and also pruned you, ground you and kneaded you. All so you could become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.
Loving someone is not always easy. It changes you and sometimes you won’t welcome the changes. I hope and pray that you can know the desires of love in your marriage:
That you wake most days “with a winged heart,” giving thanks for another day of loving.
That at noon, you meditate upon your love
That you return home in the evening, with gratitude to God for your love
That you sleep each night with a prayer for each other in your heart and a song of praise on your lips.
Because then, you can truly say, We are in the heart of God.