As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Yeah. I have to admit it: this is a very special day of celebration for me and for this congregation as well as for the two of you. You are Faith Lutheran's very first same-gender couple to be legally married—not only in the eyes of God and of this community of friends and family—but in accordance with the laws of this commonwealth. This day is long overdue, and we rejoice that it has come at last. It's a celebration of your love for each other, of our society's recognition that you have a right to live out your love honestly and openly, and of this congregation's love for the two of you.
Gotta be honest here. Although I was really delighted to have you lads join Faith two years ago, I wasn't exactly sure how to represent you to the congregation. I didn't want to point at you and say, “Here's Jae and Doug, our token gay couple!” It wasn't that I thought I'd get any backlash from the folks here, it was that I didn't want you to be just “those gay guys.” I figured that if I didn't say anything, eventually these clever Lutherans would figure it out. And they did.
And they decided that they loved you. Jason, your enthusiasm on the Praise Team warmed the hearts of retired choir ladies. And Doug, your willingness to help out with Sunday School made you a favorite with our teachers and parents and our kids. Your anti-bullying workshop was beautifully done and truly appreciated. This congregation saw new, young Christians who were willing to form community, volunteer their time for Interfaith Hospitality Network, serve on Sunday School and the church council, and lend a hand whenever a hand needed to be lent. You walked the walk, and as your pastor, I want to tell you how much I appreciate what you've done and continue to do for Faith.
But there's something else. From the time you came here, a change started to come over this congregation. You guys are two of the most genuinely loving human beings I've ever had the pleasure to know, and, somehow, your gentle spirit has started to effect this place. We've been better people since you've been here. I can't explain it, but we have. And I love you for that.
Love. That's really what today is all about.
In the gospel lesson for this service, Jesus tells the ones he loves to live and breath and move and have their very beings in the love that comes from obedience to God's law. And what's that law? Basically, the Ten Commandments just boil down to this: love God, and love everyone else. But Jesus exhorts us to love as he has loved us. And that might be a pretty tall order.
Here in the fifteenth chapter of John's gospel, Jesus has just taken the servant's job and washed the feet of his disciples. He's loved them by serving them. As a married guy, I think I can testify that a little foot rubbing from time to time can go a long way towards strengthening a relationship. But it's more than just that. Today you're being called upon to confess that you will love each other as servants—each putting the needs of the other before his own, each subjugating his own ego.
You see, to love as Jesus loves means to be willing to sacrifice. Jason, you have to give up a little bit of your need for reassurance and control. Doug, you'll have to give up taking things for granted. You'll both need to carry your cross, remembering that you can only be responsible for your marriage to your partner, you can't control your partner's marriage to you. You will require faith, hope,and love.
Now, I know you love each other. In fact, you've told me it was love at first sight that day Doug wandered into the AT&T store. You guys just knew. Three months later you were living together, and you've made it work for the last five years. So for the next fifty years, let me give you a bit of advice:
In the old Anglican Book of Common Prayer the marriage vows used to contain the phrase, “With my body I thee worship.” Think of Holy Matrimony as a worship service. It must include praying together. It must include praising—both God and each other. And it must include the element with which we begin every mass—daily confession and absolution. If you can't learn the phrases, “I'm sorry” and “I forgive you” and really mean them, you can't be married.
And remember, too, that St. Paul taught us that while we were yet in our sins, Christ died for us. He didn't wait to sacrifice himself until we were perfect or until we deserved it. We have to love others in their sins just as Christ loved us in ours.
My prayer for you is that you will always love each other courageously for your weaknesses as well as your strengths. Thank you, again, for being who you are, and may the peace of God which passes all our understanding keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.