Finally, beloved

by Emily A. Mellott

Look at that – the reading you picked begins, “finally, beloved.”

I don’t know if you did that on purpose – I’d guess that the statement of lived love that follows those words is why you picked that reading for you and us to hear.

But, finally, beloved.

We’re here.

Look at you – after twenty-five years of life together, getting married.

You know, and we know, that the real work of marriage is what you’ve been doing, and what you’re promising today to keep doing and do all over again.

But there’s something deliciously sacramental about this afternoon, this set of promises, this time of looking into each other’s eyes and taking each other’s hands.

Because today, when you stand up and make those promises, there’s another sacramental sign to go with the rings and the vows.

There’s a piece of paper from the State of Iowa that’s the visible sign of the fact that your marriage matters to the rest of the world.

It says your choice to be married to one another is an important piece of our public trust, our definition of community.

And it says – just like the promise the rest of us made a few minutes ago – that we owe you recognition, and support, and trust and faith in your commitment to one another.

That’s grace.

That’s why I’m going to cry, a bit, today.

Because you’re legal. And that matters for us

us, whom you’ve invited to be here

and us, the world we live in.

Also, apparently, to the Church Pension Fund. Wouldn’t want to leave them out.

It matters, because as your commitment to one another makes you more generous, more open, more skilled in the essential spiritual art of forgiving and being forgiven,

you create wells of grace that spill over into other people’s lives.

I’ve seen your humor bubble, your patience deepen, your hearts open, and your faith in each other and in your selves shine when I see you together. You contrast, and you fit together, and because of that, everyone each of you touches is richer for the experience.

Today, there’s a piece of paper that says that this richness matters in the way we make sense of our world.

It matters to me.

Because the two of you together have made my life more whole,

and I never thought I’d get to preach at your wedding.

So it feels like a victory and a vindication that today the whole weight of custom, society and the legal system affirm your truth.

That’s why I wanted to hear Jesus’ words about salt and light as we celebrate with you, today.

Today there’s no more bushel basket, even if you wanted to drop one over your light. Today we get to glorify God for the holy light of your everyday, life long, work of loving one another in the hard ways, the funny ways, the physical, spiritual, emotional, and practical ways.

That light matters.

And so does the salt.

Salt’s a funny thing to compare to love, but I think it just might work.

Salt changes things. It’s a preservative; it makes things just enough different so that they last a good long time.

And it’s got some rough edges. Salt doesn’t spice things up by being smooth and subtle, but by sharpening the edges of flavor, being a little rough on the tongue (and sometimes on the blood pressure).

And I like that for you, today.

Because we’re changing the story,

taking the assumptions of society and the promises you made 18 years ago, and sharpening the edges of both so that your flavors are brighter, richer, bigger.

And it took salt in a lot of raw places in the state, the church, and your own lives to change things, and make this happen.

But here we are.

Finally, beloved,

we’re here to celebrate all that is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, praiseworthy and excellent in your marriage,

because your marriage matters.

It makes life-giving light out of that piece of paper,

because it makes life-giving light out of your lives,

and that lights up me, and us, and people far beyond this place.

Finally, beloved, and forever.


This sermon was preached on the occasion of the marriage of the Rev. Bonnie Perry and Ms. Susan Harlow by the Rev. Emily A. Mellott, is the rector of Calvary Episcopal Church, Lombard, Illinois.

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