My baby got married

One of the greatest joys in this job is being part of those big moments in people’s lives.  And it is especially joyful when those people are part of your own family.

On Saturday my eldest son Craig married Vicky, the light of his life. It has been planned since the beginning of the year and early on it was clear that this would be a wedding with a difference. For my son is not what you might call conventional and we love him for that. However it did make the planning just a little chaotic which does not always sit well with this control freak.

The liturgy was poured over and my wordsmith son had considerable input when it came to names for the deity. From the beginning they wanted to write their own vows but as the day got closer the vows were not forthcoming. It was only the day before that they arrived and were so beautiful that they instantly made me cry. Craig loves the sea and sailing so that was a theme throughout the day and also in their vows:

Vicky said to Craig:

I vow to always remain your anchor, to bring you stability in a chaotic world
I promise to be a safe harbour for you, through the highs and the low tides, to guide you through stormy seas to calm waters
And I vow to remain by your side on our adventure as we grow old together.
And Craig said to Vicky:
I promise to always fight my way back to you from dark mountains, valleys and seas
I promise to recognise the light in you, when the darkness is blinding
You are my lighthouse and my siren, and I will always come to your song.
The wedding was small and informal. No organist, no hymns. Vicky came down the aisle on her mum’s arm to the theme from the film The Life Aquatic and later we all sangalong to Kooks by David Bowie. Craig read two beautiful love poems to Vicky and everyone sighed.
Even my lovely sister who suffers from agoraphobia managed to dope herself up sufficiently to come and sit at the back, along with her son Stevie who suffers from CRPS and although he was in horrendous pain he managed to stay for the ceremony. I know Craig and Vicky were surprised and delighted they were able to be there.
Then some of their closest friends trotted down to the Voodoo Rooms (used to be the Café Royal) for a wonderful meal and my youngest son Gareth gave a hilarious best-man speech. Unfortunately the noise from the wedding next door was such that we didn’t hear all the jokes. And then we hit the dance floor and more friends arrived to share in the joy.
I didn’t stay long after that. Three glasses of Pinot Grigio was just too much on top of all that adrenalin! It was a gorgeous day, not without its mishaps, but a day which I shall never forget.

No strings attached

This daily Lent blog was going not too bad until today. At Morning Prayer our reading gave me the inspiration and I knew just I wanted to say. Then we finished, had a blether, had the Holy Mysteries, coffee and cake (carrot incidentally, made by me!), hymns chosen till Pentecost, visitation to the hospital, emails and phone calls, sorting out clip art files for magazine editor… And all the while it was fluttering around in the back of my mind.

Can I think of it now? Can I hell.

It was about love with no strings attached. Unconditional love. The rest of it is gone. Gone into the swamp that is my brain. The more I think about, the more I see it slipping into the swampy quicksand. I even googled ‘love no strings attached’ for inspiration. Shouldn’t have done that. Eek. Full of risky dating sites.

It might come back. At 3am probably. But know that you are loved unconditionally, with no strings attached. That’s it really.

Why I believe in marriage equality

This is doing the rounds just now so I hope I have permission to reproduce it here. For all my friends who care…

A Love Offering for Marriage Equality, U.S. Supreme Court
(An occasion-specific paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:1-13)
Interfaith Service of Love and Justice
Church of the Reformation, Washington, D.C.

If I speak like I know everything, like the world revolves around me, but I don’t love, I am nothing but a fool at a microphone.

If I can talk about The Scriptures, and preach better than all the other preachers, and get everybody and their sister coming back to church, but I don’t embrace love, then I’m just a silly dude in a robe.

If I give away all my best stuff, and have all the “Rev. Dr. This and Thats” in front of my name, but I can’t recognize love, then I haven’t learned a thing.

Because love, she is amazing. Love is relentless.  Love is extra-generous.

Love looks out for the interests of other people, not just one’s own self.

Love doesn’t reserve rights and privileges just for some.  Love doesn’t promote hierarchies, to the expense of equality, because love just doesn’t think that way. Love doesn’t work that way.

Love doesn’t hurt people.  And love never leaves people out.

No … Love goes all the way.  Love removes every obstacle.  Love appeals to the highest court in the land, when necessary.

Love gets up really early in the morning, after having stayed up really late the night before.

That’s how love is.  Love always does the right thing, even when it’s hard.  Love is fair and just, extravagant and wasteful.  Love can never be depleted.

Now as for long speeches and oral arguments and amicus briefs, they’ll play themselves out.  And fanatics can cry, ”Surely the world will come to an end!” and they, too, have their rights.  But your loved one’s embrace at the end of a hard day? …  The dreams you share … The plans you’ve made … The inside jokes … The kisses goodnight … Till death do you part.  That will never pass away.

When I was a scared, uncertain, disempowered gay person, I thought and reasoned like a scared, uncertain, disempowered gay person.  I thought this day could never come.  But now, I’ve put all that behind me, every limiting thought.

Yes, we see through murky waters.  We’re trying to discern every 5 to 4; 6 to 3; 9-to-nothing scenario.  But the day is surely coming, when we will be seen, and see each other, as God sees us — through love, because God is love.

We have a lot of things to sustain us in this life.   There’s that quirky optimism that, with God, all things work together for good.  And there’s always hope, and hope never disappoints.  And that’s all nice.  But most importantly, we’ve got this big, expansive, inclusive love.  Love!  And isn’t that the greatest thing?  Isn’t it?

The Rev. J. Bennett Guess, executive minister of the United Church of Christ’s Local Church Ministries and member of the denomination’s five-person Collegium of Officers, offered this prayer in Washington, D.C., in support of marriage equality.  He spoke during an interfaith prayer service before Supreme Court hearings on marriage equality.

A love offering for marriage equality
Written by The Rev. J. Bennett Guess
March 26, 2013

1 Corinthians 13

I found this on another website. Author unknown, it would appear.

Even if I pack the Albert Hall with the power of my salvation message

Or my books require their own Amazonian warehouse

If the God Channel carries my healings back to back

And I make theology the sport of masses

Should I become the spider In the World Wide Web

And Google all for Jesus…but I have no love

Then I am like a dropped biscuit tin

In an empty kitchen

I am a like a bad busker in a windy street competing with a massed brass band.

And even if I can predict the future price of a billion stocks and shares

Or know the coming weather

If my wisdom knows not the limit of Oxbridge

Nor lacks the ears of those with power

If I know all the words of God for this our time

And shout them loud

…but I have no love I am nothing.

I am like a stain on the shirt

Of a crack addict

I am like a dandelion

Growing in the gutter

Of a derelict building

If I should sell my penthouse flat and

Give my widescreen TV to Oxfam

And if I walk into a war zone

Waving flags of peace

Or become the world’s best known eco-warrior

And single-handedly heal the ozone hole

And even if all this should cost my final breath…but I have no love

Then I am empty

Like the pockets of a gambler

Or the stomach

Of a starving child

Like a road laid

To nowhere

Like a life lived

For nothing

Easter 5 Sermon

This  is the story from the beginning of today’s sermon. Sorry, but I can’t remember where I picked it up from and have adapted it a little.

It is France.

It is a small village in France.

The year is 1943.

Imagine the cobbled streets.

Perhaps a fountain in the square?

The church with a bell tower and in the door a black cassocked priest, perhaps with a hat to keep the sun off.

It is war time so the shops have little in the way of produce in the windows but they are colourfully decorated.

Red, white and blue bunting along the front.

Women gather with baskets over their arms and blether on street corners.

The cafe has a few tables outside and some men sit smoking and drinking, eyes wrinkled from the sun.

An idyllic scene at first glance.

But remember this is war time.

On that corner in the doorway stand two young men in German uniform.

Their job is to watch.

To watch the women go into the shops,

to watch the men in the cafe,

to watch and report back anything untoward.

They are young, these soldiers.

They look about eighteen, no more.

Far from home and on short rations.

They may be the ones with the upper hand but they don’t look like they are enjoying it much.

The priest has seen how skinny they look and so each day he goes from door to door with two large baskets begging food for them.

A few eggs here, some bread there, a few home-grown vegetables from this house.

All gratefully received by the occupying forces.

Then one night the local resistance movement blows up the local bridge into the next large town.

The Commandant demands reprisals and orders everyone to gather in the square by the fountain at 6pm for a special announcement.

He brings in reinforcements and on rooftops and in upper windows there are armed soldiers silently watching.

Every man between the ages of 16 and 65 is to step forward to the fountain.

There, in front of wives, mothers and girlfriends, they are shot.

Shot dead.

The fountain runs red with the blood.

The distraught and angry villagers turn on the priest.

“If you come again asking for food for these murderers, we shall kill you.”

On the day of the funeral the little church with the bell tower is full and overflowing.

Every family has lost someone.

The old priest stands up and reads from the Gospel of John, the passage we heard today:

‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.

Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.’

Later that day he stands in the village square, with tears in his eyes, watching the local people filling the baskets he has placed at his feet with food to feed the enemy soldiers.