We are so happy to share the celebration our first wedding anniversary today. It has truly been a year of marital bliss filled with much excitement and many blessings for us to be deeply thankful for. At the top our list is our greatest blessing of them all, the birth of our first little manchild, Malachi Benedict, followed by my graduation from TCU in December. To mark this occasion, Phillip made a wonderful supper for us to enjoy, with our wedding and groom's cake for dessert. After supper, we read the homily from our wedding and concluded the evening with delightful conversation. I have posted the excellent homily by our Priest, the Rev. David Allen, below:
WITH MY BODY I THEE WORSHIP
The Rev. David Allen
I suppose these days the first thing that has to be said about marriage is that it is not just a bundle of feelings, a set of emotions, opinions, attitudes, religious convictions, ideals, which can safely be swept under the carpet; but a body, a physical thing, which if you swept it under the carpet you will soon be tripping over it. Two bodies to be exact, which only increase the chances. And everybody knows this, except maybe judges and bishops.
The California Supreme Court reached its recent decision by failing to produce the body, to consider the physical evidence. By ignoring that most basic legal principle of Habeas Corpus, by ignoring the simple physical, biological fact of the case that marriage requires that a certain kind of body be joined to another kind of body. Marriage is not just a matter of mutual love and affection, respect, honor, companionship, trust, all those nice, cozy, spiritual things, still less of juridical rights. But before it is any of this it is something much more obvious, namely the right kinds of plumbing, more exactly two different kinds of plumbing.
Although quite honestly you can read through many modern Christian rites of marriage designed to meet 20th and 21st century needs and not find much of anything that talks about the body, still less about sex; nor is there much that could not be applied easily to any kind of human relationship. The old rites of the church stand in contrast, in fact, the old marriage rites are particularly uncensored with what we call spirituality or values or any of that sort of stuff and concentrate on the grossly physical.
“With this ring I thee wed and this gold and silver I thee give.” The ring so hated by the Puritans because it was so unspiritual. “With all my worldly cathel I thee endow.” So vulgar and merely pragmatic to mention joint bank accounts when we should be thinking about the higher things. “And with my body I thee worship” Not to be brought up in polite company and certainly not in front of God and family and friends. And yet that is exactly what Holy Scripture does, when it talks about marriage, the twain – that is – the two – shall become one flesh, so says the book of Genesis and so quotes Jesus when he teaches about marriage in St. Mark’s gospel. Marriage, I am afraid, is grossly physical affair before it is anything else, a fleshly thing precisely in order that it might be a spiritual thing. What scripture and tradition understand and what we modern folks have such difficulty with, is that marriage is a sacrament, a natural sacrament before it is supernatural sacrament. We might even say the first sacrament. “From the beginning God created them male and female,” and like every sacrament, there must be an outward and visible sign and that outward and visible sign is not just whatever we might like it to be but, as the old theologians said the matter proper to the form. Bread and wine, not a moonpie and a RC cola, water, not champagne and roses, one man and one woman, not any other human combination we can come with. And this is so because the outward and visible sign is the means by which the inward and spiritual reality happens.
Not of course that this only involves sex it also involves all the things that come with sex beginning with babes, changing diapers, sleep deprivation, working for a living, taking out the garbage and a higher kind of tolerance than even the California Supreme Court can envision - namely the tolerance of a man for a pregnant woman. Certainly marriage is a school of virtue, a school of holiness but it is the kind of virtue and holiness, which we do well not to describe with too many abstractions. Mostly it consists of learning to put up and shut up. Not only because that is what the marriage self-help books say but because it is appropriate to the divine mystery into which it calls a man and a woman.
The kind of ordinary wonder and awe and humility before the mystery of man and woman being called to be co-creators with God. “With my body I thee worship,” is that really idolatry or the simple recognition that God has created male and female that they alone together with him may give life. Never forget this, whatever else you may forget, when all the platitudes have been put into the garage along with the other useless items we accumulate, never forget the dignity which has been conferred upon you, when God allowed you to participate in his creative love.
When you cant stand each other or put up with each other another moment, when the sorrows seem to outweigh the joys, when you are desperate, when things seem hopeless - and they will - then remember the truth of the moment when, like God Almighty Himself, you rested and contemplated what you have made and like Him too say “It is good, it is very good.”