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Sincere Love

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer…. It is an honor to be asked to speak at this wedding today. This is something I cannot do often, but am proud to do today at this blessed occasion. David has meant a great deal to Hope and me. We are learning to know and love Cordelia. We trust that in the years to come we will see the full outworking of the great promise we see in these two now becoming one. You have chosen to begin your marriage with words from Saint Paul. This was wise, even if your wisdom would not be easily apparent to the modern. Why listen to the words of a first century celibate man on your wedding day? His advice, even if inspired by the Holy Spirit, was not even directly related to marriage! He was giving advice to all Christians. And yet there is no better place to turn in order to seek wisdom at the start of your life together. In fact, the holist man is most experienced in the rules of marriage. The actions that make you holy are the actions that will make your marriage successful in the eyes of God. Paul, the great apostle, knew the love of God and so is the best source for wedding advice. If you begin your marriage by understanding the greatest purpose of marriage, then you will fulfill its calling. Marriage is the very best image of the relationship of Christ and His Church. Marriage is a preparation for the union of God and man at the Great Wedding that will end this Age and bring on the Age to come. What prepares the Bride of Christ for her great Bride Groom for all Eternity will prepare the bride and groom of this marriage for life together now. This marriage is the deepest reflection of your life in Christ. You cannot love your God and hate your spouse. This is why God hates divorce and loves marriage. He is ever faithful and wishes us to be so. He will never leave us and knows the harm that comes when we leave Him. Today you are in a sense born again, the very best earthly image of the heavenly reality, as you take each other and become a new family. Of course we are fallen and in the divine economy there is forgiveness for those of us who have marred His perfect plan. There is forgiveness and a new start. However, the failure of some of us to live up to the ideal does not vindicate giving up on that ideal. Love is to be “without dissimulation.” The NIV says “love must be sincere” a fine translation which runs the risk of reminding some of us the Great Pumpkin and a sort of goofy-hearted innocence. Our culture thinks innocence is boring, sincerity is stupid, and marriage is about feelings. Paul defies this worldly wisdom with the Truth. He sees that being real destroys the fantastic love of Hollywood which can exist only for the moment in the imagination. Love that is based on a perfect fantasy in the mind of the other person cannot last. We are all sinners in need of grace. Sincerity will have to reveal our deep and abiding faults and only God’s love, the love of the Cross, is strong enough to accept and love the real self. This love does not accept with resignation, but itself acts to transform the beloved not into a tool of self, but into the full expression of what God intended our lover to be. Sin aborts. Sincere Christian love brings to birth. However, this rational, pure, and passionate love is building for forever. It strips aside every pretence, every mask, and reveals itself to the beloved. Only in this way can a person see the other and be drawn from the image of God at last revealed in them to the Creator. Abhor that which is evil. Nobody gets near a thing he abhors. Evil will never appear evil. Much of it will come masked as great good. Learn to hate anything that draws you away from God’s law. This will protect you from the sin which will build barriers between the two of you. Right now you feel very much in love, but inside (despite best efforts) there are hidden places, dark and private- or so you believe. God knows of them and they separate you from Him. But since human love is a piece of divine love, those dank dungeons of depravity also pull the two of you apart. Now emotions cover this up- but will not last- I know. Abhor those evils- at first for the sake of your marriage but ultimately so you both, one forever, can bask in Love Himself. Cleave to that which is good. This is an interesting command since marriage is about leaving the old life and cleaving to each other. You are to cling to the good as strongly as today you wish to cling to each other. The good may be the harder path at first, but you will eventually find that it is the best way. You both know that virtue is not the absence of vice- inanimate objects have no vice, but they are not good. Instead seek Love. Crave it. Never be satisfied with settling. Accept that there will be low points in your love, but never listen to the burned out or the worldly wise who demand you settle for affection. The world seduces you to evil with the promise of a Grand Mission- holiness delivers what the world cannot give. In honor prefer one another. David in the years to come you will grow restless. You will feel that you are taken for granted. When life does not go exactly as you have planned, and it will never (thank God!) go exactly as you have planned, the temptation will be to lash out at Cordelia. Why? You believe she will take it or you blame her for any failure. All of us think mostly of self. To often even our loving is posturing, pretending. Make every note you sing to Cordelia a harmony. There are no long solos in marriage- even when your voice is the dominant one, use that moment to set her up for her own moment of glory, her own solo. Think of her- and you will save yourself. In the reverse economy of the Kingdom, if you lose yourself in serving Cordelia- you will find yourself. Cordelia: Marriage to a strong man can be difficult. This is especially true for an equally strong and accomplished wom
an. Being married is the greatest role a person can play. Do not accept the stereotypes that limit home. Use all your gifts and grow and thrive as an artist and a person. Do accept and image as the maker of a civilization that David is called to defend. Abandon every human opinion, but cling to Truth- and never measure your worth or David’s by your pay check’s size. Instead, create beauty and culture wherever you go. Love David, submit to him, and find your equal worth in the magnificent model of Mary- the handmaiden of her Lord. Finally, rejoice in hope. Be patient in tribulation. Continue in prayer. On this happy day it seems odd to speak of endings, but Christianity does so. I have just returned from the funeral of my last grandparent, Sibyl Reynolds. She was a wonderful Christian woman and a perfect reflection of plain, honest, and godly living. She was also happily married for just over 50 years. She loved my grandfather deeply- and I often felt her last years were for her a last deepening of that love. And death only helped her receive the peace of abiding love. My handsome, strong and capable grandfather grew old, since, and tired. She was forced to care for him. His wit began to fade- though it was never lost- and then he died. At his funeral I heard a well meaning friend try to comfort granny. “It was for the best,” he murmured, “he must have been hard on you at the end.” I saw my grandmother’s eyes flash, her bent back, straighten and her words become sharp, “I would do it all again- for a lifetime- to be with him.” And that is the love you both must gain. It is a love that will see beyond the physical- which will decline as the Spirit grows. It is a love that serves- and finds its fulfillment in that service. My grandmother looked so peaceful Monday- in the very room where Papaw had been. Her body was tired and broken- the morticians art only softened, could not hide, the years. But I rejoiced! For she was not there- she had gone on. The vows made seventy years before had been fulfilled- death had parted- nut now that parting was over and they are fully one. Fully in Love Fully in Christ Both of you today begin that long journey to the undiscovered country from which only One Man has returned with Good News, and He calls you today to Love- Immortal, Joyous, and Holy Love.

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