Oasis Madrid held its first wedding last Saturday. Paul Jennemann and Kelly Wills bound themselves together and I had the privilege of officiating the ceremony. Following is the text of the homily I gave. I hope you find it enjoyable and even helpful in some way. Congrats, Paul and Kelly! We're so happy for you! --Troy
a short sermon by Troy Cady
I want to begin with a warning: this is the part of the wedding that isn’t very organized. I meant it to be that way, however, because life is not organized. (Paul and Kelly: you both know this by experience. A year ago, neither of you would have put the words “wedding ceremony” on the slot in your agenda labeled “September 20, 2008.”) Yes, life is wild. And that’s good because the most beautiful things (like the beauty of creation) are untamed, yet true. Vibrant marriage, like all things made by God, reflects the beauty of the untamed Creator. In encountering the beauty of God through marriage, therefore, you will learn truth and gain wisdom (which is wild compared to knowledge).
Because true marriage is untamed, this is my prediction: you’ll never be bored. Incidentally, there are more reasons I could give as to why I’m confident of this. For starters, anyone that thinks eleventy billion is a number and purple is an odor will never be bored. Any couple that thinks of rent as a musical rather than money owed will never be bored. When a man goes on his first date with a woman and he says to her “So, do you want to be my girlfriend now or later?” you can be sure they will not be bored. And you’re both…artistes: you will never be bored.
You will awaken 37 years and 49 days from now, thinking you will know what the day will bring and you will end the day feeling blind-sided by joy or sadness, take your pick.
You will love each other well and you will hurt each other well. The good news is: you will not do this alone. Solitary perseverance you will have done with because today you shall speak to one another in tones even you have yet to discover that, come what may, you shall be together. And whether these vows are spoken loud or soft matters little, for they shall be spoken in reverence, as before your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And, so, you shall be together.
When even sitting become excruciating, you shall be together. When you laugh, you will do so together. And when your next washer breaks, you shall be together. You shall dream together and when tears are screaming in your chest, you shall be together.
You will never be bored and you will always be together. You will love each other well and you will hurt each other well. This latter statement is why you will learn to be forgiven and to forgive. And, yes, it does happen in that order. Forgiveness is an essential habit for any thriving marriage, but you cannot learn to forgive if you don’t first learn to be “the forgiven”. You cannot give away what you don’t have. So, here’s a cheeky tip that may ignite your passion even now. Here, in the presence of everyone, I charge each of you to beat each other to the words “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” We often think that offering forgiveness is harder than receiving forgiveness, but that is rarely the case. It takes humility and courage to admit wrong-doing and the need for forgiveness. In fact, offering forgiveness can be a mechanism of control, but to receive forgiveness you must open your hands so that you can receive it. Open-handedness is a vulnerable posture, a trusting posture. Giving in and letting go are equally courageous. This is why marriage takes courage and trust, a breaking down of walls we erect. By contrast, self-defense and self-justification are two kinds of cages; one is made of glass, while the other consists of a simple mote, dug out of the ground, separating heart from heart. Either way, both are easily made and both appear invisible. But both kill the spirit, in the same way that wild lions are tamed by mere diminished space.
Marriage is wild. Don’t try to tame it. Simply cherish it for its untamed beauty. Paul, Kelly is wild. Don’t try to tame her. Simply love her for who she is. Kelly, Paul is wild. Don’t try to tame him. Simply love him for who he is. You guys are truly a wild pair!
With that, here are a few more connected, yet disconnected, untamed thoughts. They are not organized because life is not organized and you two stand here today on the edge of what will probably be the wildest and greatest adventure of your life, so I’ll not hesitate in hastily handing you, in random order, some supplies you’ll need for the journey. When you’re weary or hungry or frustrated, or even when you’re resting by the stream or dry and content, apply these, as needed.
Listen before you speak and really listen. When you feel emotionally flooded, stop the argument and take some time to settle down. Say please to each other. Cook for each other. Be flexible. Pray with each other. Give in. Sing together. Clean the toilet when it’s not your turn to clean the toilet. Remember, it’s okay to cry. Say thank you. Hold the door open for each other. Play games together. Compliment each other. Defend each other. Say “you’re welcome”. Wonder about each other. Ask, “How was your day?”. Share your thoughts. Hold hands. Kiss and make up. Oh, and you can do that other thing, too, now that you’re married.
You stand here, as the poet e.e. cummings puts it, on “forever’s very now.” Beauty is wild and the continuous present is a gateway to eternity. You stand on “forever’s very now.” So, it is with the wild words of cummings I’d like to close. I could think of no better words to express the wildly unique nature of your relationship, Paul and Kelly. These untamed words express the sufficiency of loving freedom and the mystery of tangled grace. These words are written as if you are speaking to each other. Look in each other’s eyes now, as I read what e.e. cummings has written:
the great advantage of being alive
(instead of undying) is not so much
that mind no more can disprove than prove
what heart may feel and soul may touch
--the great (my darling) happens to be
that love are in we, that love are in we
and here is a secret they never will share
for whom create is less than have
or one times one than when times where—
that we are in love, that we are in love:
with us they’ve nothing times nothing to do
(for love are in we am in i are in you)
this world (as timorous itsters all
to call their cowardice quite agree)
shall never discover our touch and feel
--for love are in we are in love are in we;
for you are and i am and we are (above
and under all possible worlds) in love
a billion brains may coax undeath
from fancied fact and spaceful time—
no heart can leap, no soul can breathe
but by the sizeless truth of a dream
whose sleep is the sky and the earth and the sea.
For love are in you am in i are in we
So be it. Amen.