Pastor Steven Molin
Alec and Kathy, what a day! Who would have imagined three years ago, when you began teaching at the same school that you would one day be standing together, making promises to spend the rest of your lives together? And how perfect is this? The snow is gently falling outside, the church is beautifully decorated for Christmas, so you saved thousands on flowers! And most importantly, you are surrounded by loved ones; in fact, everybody that you love is right here this evening. You will never have this experience again, when you will gather the most important people in your lives, in the presence of God, and of one another. Who imagined this? God did!
The psalmist tells us that, when you were in your mother’s wombs, when each of you were growing there in secret, God knew you. God saw you before you were ever born, and all your days were seen by God before any of them ever began. There is something incredibly awesome and comforting and exciting in that fact; that God had a hand in this night. It was not entirely your choice, it was not by coincidence, or fate, or terrific luck, Alec, that you found this beautiful young woman and somehow convinced her to marry you! Kathy, as long as you have dreamed and planned for this day, it was in God’s design for you even longer. This is, indeed, a day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!
There is a story I know of a young girl named Susy; four years old, bright and beautiful, and full of childlike curiosity and joy. On her very first day of preschool, her teacher read the story of Snow White, and she couldn’t wait to get home and tell it to her mother. “Mommy, mommy, Snow White fell asleep and Prince Charming came and kissed her and she woke up. And you know what happened next, mommy?” “Yes, I do” the mother replied. “The lived happily ever after.” “No, silly! They got married!”
I am here to tell you today that “Happily ever after” is a myth. If love automatically led to happily ever after, marriages would be working today. But we all know that this is not the case. Why? Because marriage takes work. It takes two people who are committed to communication, and conflict resolution, and honesty, and intimacy, and forgiveness, and commitment – commitment not only to your partner, but also commitment to the idea of marriage, the institution of marriage. Alec and Kathy, there may come a day – there WILL come a day – when your relationship is anything but “happily ever after.” I know it’s hard to believe on a night like tonight, but it is true. Perhaps the words to Brian Wren’s hymn says it best:
When love is found, and hope comes home
Sing and be glad that two are one
When love explodes and fills the sky
Praise God and share our Maker’s joy.
That’s verse one. That’s tonight, and tomorrow, and perhaps next week. But verse three describes a different day, a day that you are sure to experience.
When love is torn and trust betrayed
Pray strength to love till torments fade
Till lovers keep no score of wrong
But hear through pain love’s Easter song.
I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but what will you do then? How will you cope when you discover that you cannot cope alone? You will remember that you cannot cope alone, but then, remember that you are not alone! “Two are better than one” the author of Ecclesiastes writes. “Because if one falls down, the other can pick them up. If two lie down together, one will keep the other warm. One can be overpowered, but two can defend themselves.” And then the punch line of this scripture text: “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
Three strands. Kathy. Alec. God. That is what is being formed tonight; a cord of three strands that can withstand the most difficult circumstances, the most bitter conflicts, the most painful storms, the most disappointing news. When the two of you cannot cope, remember that there are not just two of you, there is also the God who created you, and who abides with you, no matter where your lives may take you.
As you light the unity candle in just a moment, I know that conventional wisdom tells us that one candle is for Alec, and another candle if for Kathy, and the third candle is represents “us.” I would suggest that those three candles represent your new world; Alec, Kathy, and God. And rather than base your marriage on a myth that “they lived happily after” you might build your marriage on this truth: “they lived faithfully ever after.” May if be so! Amen.
• Copyright 2008, Steven Molin. Used by permission.