Saturday, July 12, 2014

For Love

For Love
A Wedding Homily delivered by Rev. Peter T. Atkinson
for Chris Dowdy and Cathleen Schneeberger
July 11, 2014
at Hilton Head, South Carolina
John 1: 1-5

Let us pray:
Almighty God,
Help us to see despite our eyes
Help us to think outside of our minds
Help us to be more than our lives
            For your eyes show the way
            Your mind knows the truth
            Your being is the life.
And in your loving name we pray. . . Amen

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

From the very first day of the existence of this Earth, when God divided the waters from the waters, when the Spirit was flying over the waters, right before God said let there be light, there was darkness. . . and that is all there was. . . and God. . . and on that first day God brought the light from the darkness, and God has been making the light from the darkness every day since, and such is what life is: a cycle of darkness and light, but what we testify to today is that God's hands are in both, and Love is.  Love leads us from darkness to light. Love redeems us, from darkness to light. Love shapes our darkness, carrying us through it, and brings us to light, and this is the world. It is a long road and it goes on forever[1], the road goes on and on, rolling hard, rolling fast, rolling by, and it is of darkness and light, for such is the mysterious Way of Love, and it is such a long, long way to ride just to hear her say your name when you reach the other side, and you find the one that you won't ever leave again.
Because long before then,  when the darkness falls, and kindness fails, and you feel that you are living on the Dark Side of the World. . . when you are on the outside of the first Hello and the last goodnight good bye. . . When you are wondering what you did to deserve this, wondering if you committed some dreadful selfish crime that  you are still paying for, and so now you're dying of thirst, and in the travelling storm, enveloping all around you, and as you go down that dusty trail, there's just not a drop of rain, and the broken end of love is all you think there is. . . and your eyes start to get used to the darkness, because you think that darkness is all there is, until you get to the point, running with the night, where you can no longer even recognize the darkness and all that exists are just shades of gray. . . and the world tells you to accept it, for that's the way it goes around here, yes that's the way the wild wind blows, and so you've reached the point of no return. . . wondering forever who'll be looking out for you, because it's time and  you're gonna start giving in. Hey what can I do? The gravitational forces are just against me, and I'm going nowhere. It's like I'm standing out on the beach and the storm is coming, and I have only two choices in that statistical anomalous choice between getting struck by lightning and or just heading into the water to face the sharks, and at this point both choices seem strangely appealing.
It is at that point where the dawn breaks, God says let there be light, and it is. . . and in that darkest night, when it is the darkest, the coldest night of winter, and you are about to start giving in, that God brings something into your life, and you see a bigger piece of sky, and it all begins again. Something, but more often someone. . . and they become a light to you, and you become a light to them, and in the gathering light, love comes in, it comes walking in. . . and you wanna know more, you wanna be more, and everything changes, and for a moment, you stop, you challenge what you had been taught by the darkness, you think it over one time, and you believe again in love. That's what the Christian story is. It's what the life story is, and often, so often it mirrors our love stories. At the right time, in the right place, it all just comes together. . . and it feels good feeling good again, and you want to share that love, you want to show the world. Love becomes not just something that saved you, but something that you do, something that you share, and the world is better for it. And you look back at  your life up to this point, every twist and every turn, every scar, every heartbreak, and you look into the hope in each child's eyes in this new family, and you say without reservation. . . I did it all for love my friends, for love I did it all, and everyone here present today can look at the two of you, and your beautiful new and perfect family, and see the testimony, see the proof, see the love light in your eyes, and feel it reflected in our own faith, hope, and dreams. . . this is the power of what love does, this is the world that God makes and remakes, and this is the world saved by the love that is the very fabric of it all. . . What I really mean. . . is I'm glad that I've been here. . . I'm glad that all of these people are here. . . for even though love is a word we don't often throw around, we recognize it when we see it and it sheds new life.
And so now let's let God do His work in binding together this new family. . . Chris, Cathleen are you ready. . .
Chris, Cathleen, since it is your intention to marry,
Join your right hands, and with promises
bind yourselves to each other as husband and wife.

[1] Each italicized phrase comes from a Robert Earl Keen song title or lyric