I have played many weddings at the Lawton Community Center. It is an old winery that has been converted to a venue for weddings and events. It is an old stone building with a great deal of character A wedding I played last summer was officiated by Dr. Robert Braman. The homily he presented was very moving and appropriate to the setting. Afterward, I spoke to him and mentioned how well suited to the venue his homily was. He told me he had prepared a completely different message and after seeing the building at the rehearsal, he was inspired that evening, to write the message he gave at the wedding. He has sent me a copy and I want to share it:
“A Bible passage that is most frequently read at weddings is 1 Cor. 13. It begins, Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. The entire passage is about love, what it is and what it isn’t. But it wasn’t written for weddings or marriage. It was written to describe how we are to treat one another in the church. That’s true of many other passages read at weddings. The reason we read them is because they are actually about all relationships, including marriage. The basic message is this: Relationships between people are always the richest, most enjoyable, and most lasting when they are grounded in our relationship with our loving God. Because God’s love is sacrificial love, as exemplified in Jesus Christ, so our love for one another should be sacrificial.
I’m going to do a reversal. I am going to read a passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, but I’m going to change a few words so that it is directed at marriage, this new relationship that these two are entering into right now, this very moment.
Ephesians 2:19-22 19 … You’re no longer single, looking for a mate. This thing called marriage, to a person in which you have great faith, is no longer foreign to you. You’re not strangers or outsiders. You belong here, married, just as married as anyone else is married. God has been building this relationship. He’s using both of you—irrespective of your past—in what he is building. 20 He used countless others as your foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone—and if you are wise, you’ll make Christ Jesus your cornerstone, 21 because the cornerstone keeps everything else straight and true; it holds all the parts together. We’ll see your relationship taking shape day after day—a sacred temple built by … God, 22 and now you are becoming part of something much greater than yourselves, something in which God is quite at home.
brick by brick, stone by stone.
Take a look around at the walls of this building. Stone by stone. Without the stones this would not be a building. I wonder how long it would take to count them all. Each one is necessary.
Whenever it was built, someone was careful to make sure it was built solidly. They laid it out just right. Otherwise, if there were too much weight over there, or over there, or over there, the walls wouldn’t stand, the roof wouldn’t stay up.
Think of the stones as all of the individual traits that each of you brings to this relationship. Your diverse personalities, your communication, your work habits, your ability to be affectionate and sensitive, your family backgrounds, your current jobs, your future plans. Whether you are neat or slopping, talkative or quiet, active or passive, affectionate or distant. And of course, you are male and female. What in the world is there in this world that can help you make everything fit together, as well as these stones all fit together? What is your mortar, your binder?
You can try everything and anything, but
- Only God is capable of helping you not to be self-centered, of being overly sensitive or very insensitive, too warm or too cold, too distant or too in-your-face.
- Only God is capable of showing you how to raise children, how tightly to hold them, how much freedom to give them, how to let go of them when the time comes.
- Only God is capable of providing wisdom to know how your parents and brothers and sisters now fit into your new family, and God knows that navigating the waters of our extended family relationships is no easy task.
- Only God can give you the courage to be honest and up front, not hiding feelings or avoiding the pain of dealing with all the difficulties that arise in every marriage.
- Only God can show you how to love—deeply interested in one another, openly caring, unashamed—a genuine, authentic love.
There’s a big difference between this building full of stones and your marriage full of your similarities and differences. You will change, and your marriage will change, which means you will want and need to rearrange the stones from time to time. Because your marriage, unlike this building, is a living thing, made up of your lives.
And that’s okay, because God is a living God, concerned with living relationships. Not static, not stone-like, but actively involved in everything you do—watching, listening, whispering, nudging, helping you to rearrange, so that you continue to grow.
No matter what image we use of marriage, the two of you should know that every heart in this room hopes and prays the very best for you. So be your very best. From this day forward. By the grace of and your dependence on God. Be truly married. Amen.”
-Dr Robert Braman