Saturday, August 27, 2011

Love, hope and optimism: reflections for a wedding

Text: 1 John 4:7-12 (God is love) -- delivered at the wedding of Patrick Disney and Sarah Corcoran at Wesley United Church in Rockglen Saskatchewan on August 27, 2011

The reading from 1st John that Karen just read is one of my favourite passages froms the Bible. It clearly states that "God is love," and what better sentiment could we hear on this wedding day?

However, two problems still come to my mind with this statement. One: so many of us have different understandings of who God is; and two: so many of us have trouble understanding what love is.

When I went to school four years ago to study to become a minister, I told my friends that since God is love, I expected my theme song in school would be that old hit by Foreigner: "I want to know what Love is." In the end, while I enjoyed school and learned a lot, I didn't get much help in my quest.

But then school is probably not the best place to learn about love. Patrick and Sarah have found the better path, I think. They have fallen in love, they have decided to get married, they have taken on the joys and  challenges of life on a farm, and they have decided to build a family together.

Clearly, Patrick and Sarah already know a lot about love. And the rest of their lives will continue to teach them much more about it, I am sure.

The life lessons that teach us about love are often not easy ones. No marriage and no family is without struggles and moments of darkness and pain. And the conditions in which we come together as a married couple, as workers, and as parents often challenge us, I believe.

When we get sick, when we make mistakes, when our plans don't pan out, when we have money troubles, or when a social crisis break out our in country, it is often easy, I find, to feel bad about ourselves. And when we have trouble respecting ourselves, we sometimes also have trouble acting in a loving way to those closest to us.

That is one of the key reasons, I believe, to remember our faith. The God who is Love is with us regardless of the circumstances. God comes to us in the form of our friend and brother Jesus. God in Christ has lived our human experience and felt all the wonder and pain that we feel in our humble lives. God in Christ walks with us. And God in Christ loves us, heals us and saves us no matter what we may be thinking about ourselves. So by starting their marriage with the reminder that God is Love, Sarah and Patrick have set their feet on a path on which they can grow for the rest of their lives.

This week, love has often been on the front page of our newspapers. So I hope that people don't mind me mentioning a politician and funeral on this joyous wedding day. The politician is Federal Opposition Leader Jack Layton. The funeral is his from earlier today. And the frequent mentions of love are from the Open Letter to Canadians which Layton wrote a week ago today, just two days before he died.

The final paragraph of Layton's letter goes like this: "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world."

Personally, I am glad that these sentiments of love, hope and optimism are so much in the air as Sarah and Patrick marry today.

The love, hope and optimism shown by Sarah and Patrick today are a key part of what we need to change this world. And in the years ahead, as Sarah and Patrick struggle forward in joy and in hope, we are sure that their love will continue to change them. It will also help reveal to all who know them the God of Love who loves us all completely.


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