Welcome, all of you, to the joy of this day. Thank you, Barbara, and Jason, for entrusting it to us to share.
This is a part of the reading you chose for today, a reading that is a song: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.”
And this is a part of the blessing I will pray over you in a little while: “Let their love for each other be a seal upon their hearts, a mantle about their shoulders, and a crown upon their foreheads. Bless them in their work and in their companionship; in their sleeping and in their waking; in their joys and in their sorrows; in their life and in their death.”
I hold these two pieces together and offer them to you, as you begin your married life together today. I invite you to remember what you are saying about what love is: a seal upon your hearts, something that is uniquely emblazoned on you. And it is powerful: strong, and fierce, and unquenchable.
Your lives are testimony to that power, to that determination. You are strong people, and clear.
I first met you just three months ago. You had moved to Wilmette on a Tuesday, your moving truck arrived on Wednesday. Barbara, you emailed me about church on Friday, and I met you both for the first time that Sunday. It was a delight to welcome you, as you were in the process of moving to a new place, as Jason began this new job as fire chief, and as the two of you prepare to become parents of these twins that our whole congregation so looks forward to meeting.
It’s a lot, though – which I know that you know – and it is good, also, to know that you are strong and clear people. When I said something off-hand in one of our first conversations about how amazed I was that you managed to do all this and still make it to church your first Sunday here, Jason, you said something like this: “You know, I saw one of those motivational posters once about people saying they don’t have time to go to the gym. And it said ‘Don’t say you don’t have time…just acknowledge that you’re choosing not to do that.’ We have decided that it matters to us to be here, and so we are.”
Well, Jason and Barbara, it matters that you are here; we are glad and grateful for your presence here at St. Augustine’s Church. And I tell you that this community will surround you over these next months, and years, and be ready to support you as you welcome your babies into the world, as you continue in your life as a family.
You have chosen each other. And today you choose each other again, before God and these people as witnesses, with our love and support. And the work of a lifetime will be found in your choosing each other and choosing other and choosing each other again.
So let that choice of love be the seal on your heart and your arm, on your shoulders and foreheads. And know that I am not talking about love in the way that the world would sell it – romantic and fleeting and fickle. I am talking about the kind of love that calls you to persevere through the bleary-eyed weeks of not so much sleep that will be the early days of your babies’ lives. The kind of love that calls you to find grace and kindness for each other when it would be easier to snap back with a sharp word.
Choose each other and choose each other and choose each other again, and be blessed. “Bless them in their work and in their companionship,” we will pray in just a little while. I love that you met doing something you love, training for a triathlon, and that your relationship began from a place of friendship. I love that the picture you chose for the front of your bulletin today is a tandem bicycle. I don’t know if you actually have one of those, and I’m imagining whether it would work to attach a baby bicycle trailer to the back of it, which is just kind of a fun thing to think about. Whatever the case though, remember that companionship is part of the blessing we will offer you today. Nurture that with each other in these coming days, even when you’re tired, even when it seems you don’t have enough time. Whether it’s bike rides with trailers or walks with the babies in front packs or a sitter with them at home so the two of you can have a night out and enough time to complete your sentences, nurture your care for each other as sacred – because it is.
Barbara and Jason, I wish you the love that God gives us to share in this life you begin today – love that is strong and fierce and unquenchable, love that finds grace and forgiveness and hope and humor. Let that love be a seal upon your hearts, a mantle upon your shoulders, and a crown upon your foreheads. And be blessed in your work and in your companionship; know that you are blessed as you sleep and as you wake; be blessed in times of joy and in times of sadness, and in all the times that fall between; know yourselves blessed and beloved of God and of one another, in your lives, throughout the rest of your lives, and forever. Amen.