Song of Songs 2.8-16, 8.6-7; 1 Cor 12.31-13.8; Matthew 7.21, 24-29
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Church of the Incarnation,
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Paul preaches: “Love is always patient and kind, never jealous, never boastful or conceited, never rude or selfish; love never takes offense, and is not resentful.” The Song of Songs sings, “Love is a flash of fire, a flame of the Lord himself…Love no flood can quench, no torrents drown…love is as strong as Death…” Love, above all, is dangerous! Rains come, gales blow, flood waters rise, lightening strikes, and we are shaken in our bones by the thunder. Love remains. Love remains, more dangerous, more perilous, and never more necessary than right now. Nothing happens without love b/c there is nothing but Love. As the divine passion that took the dark vacuum of nothing and spoke its Word, making all things; as the divine passion that divided day and night, male and female, good and evil, making creation His kingdom; as the divine passion that became Man so that we might share in His life beyond this one—Love is the rock foundation, the indestructible frame, the everlasting Word; Love is the Lord Himself given to us, freely, without cost to us. When we give ourselves to one another in love, we are loved first by God Himself.
What are we without Love? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Paul says, “If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.” Song of Songs makes clear that without love we are locked away, mute, crippled, weak; we are jealous, drowned, burned away. Matthew tells us that without the rock of love upon which to build our lives together we are too easily washed away, blown away, fallen. We are nothing…at all. Thanks be to God, then, that we are made to be “ambitious for the higher gifts,” desperate for sweet beauty, the seal of joy on our hearts, the house built against the storms. Paul preaches, “that [we] have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then [we] are nothing at all.” Thanks be to God, then, that when we give ourselves to one another in love, we are loved first by God Himself.
Tara and Jeremy are not here this afternoon to show us how they love one another. They are not here to declare a love that has gone, up until now, unspoken. And we are not here to witness their love—as if we knew nothing about them before now! Tara and Jeremy are here this afternoon to bind themselves together in the sacrament of matrimony, becoming one heart and mind, to show us that God, Who is Love Himself, loves us all first. Once bound together, under vows, Tara and Jeremy become living sacraments, living signs for the rest of us of exactly how and how much God loves us. When Jeremy looks at
Rain comes. Flood waters rise. Gales blow. And all the debris of the storm will be hurled against a house built on the rock of love. Let’s not make the mistake of thinking that love is magic. There is no voodoo in the sacrament this afternoon, no spells or charms that make love easy or simple. Tara and Jeremy both know that being bound together in love is dangerous. There are perils to saying Yes to another. Those beautiful faces aren’t always so pretty. Those sweet voices sometimes crack and screech. Even the strongest arm grows weak with use. The everyday living of life, just moving from sleep to sleep, from breakfast to dinner, can be a storm. There will be dark days. Hard moments. Times when today, looking back, might look like a huge mistake! There is no secret to living through these. No romantic magic to hold you up. There is only your love for one another and the sure promise from God that He loves you more.
Tara and Jeremy, today is the day! You become sacraments of Christ’s love for his Church. Remember: patience, kindness, humility, and selflessness; remember that jealousy and resentment kill a gift quicker than a knife through the heart. Remember that you are not trapped in a marriage but freed in love; not locked in your vows but let loose by them. Remember that you are always ambitious for the higher gifts and that there is no higher gift than that you be Christ for one another—teaching one another, healing one another, feeding one another, loving one another, and perhaps, as Christ did for us, even dying for one another. Remember, finally, this: love delights in the truth; it is always ready to forgive, to trust, to hope, and it will endure whatever comes, whatever comes! Because “love does not come to an end.”