Friday, 24 June 2011

A talk on the occasion of the wedding of Philip Taylor and Maaike Schoute

A talk on the occasion of the wedding of Philip Taylor and Maaike Schoute


Many congratulations

Today is a day of great joy. We delight in your love for each other and in your delight in each other.

Psalm 84 speaks of a journey

Today marks the beginning of another journey.
I say ‘beginning’, even though you have been together and been committed to each other for some time, and God has blessed you with Noa. But it is a new beginning.

A new beginning with a new identity: Maaike literally has a new name; but it is a shared name. People will see you in a different way; literally as part of each other.
A new beginning with a new role in society: up to now your love has been about a personal commitment that you made to each other. Now you’ve gone public. It is something that is bigger than either of you or both of you – and it will make you bigger people.

Today God crowns your relationship.
People often speak of marriage as being ‘proper’. It is what is meant to be. And that is right. There is a degree of obedience to God in marriage. Marriage is – according to the Bible and Christian tradition – the right place for sexual intimacy; and marriage offers the right place for the bringing up of children.
And as you take this step of obedience, God crowns your relationship.

The first thing that you do as a married couple is to pray.
One of the prayers in this service asks that your love for each other will be a crown on your heads.
In the Orthodox church, a crown is held over the head of bridegroom and bride
The Bishop of  London spoke at the royal wedding of how every wedding is a royal wedding.
In marriage God created man and woman together to rule this creation for him.

It is the beginning of the journey of your married life together.
A journey of growing together: our prayer is that you will grow in your love for each other more and more.
Involves giving: We give precious gifts to those we love. Today you give each other a wedding ring. But you give something far more precious, because as you give that ring you give yourself with it. You belong to each other.
Involves building each other up: honouring them, saying thank you; praising them – time to be romantic.
Involves forgiving: I am always slightly concerned when couples tell me that they do not have arguments. It reminds me of the person who said, “In our house we do not have arguments. Instead we store up resentments and grudges; stockpiling them for the time when we have our domestic nuclear Armageddon”. Forgiving is about choosing to forget. I like story of person who said to wife, ‘Don’t you remember when your husband did that.’ She replies, ‘No’ ‘I can specifically remember forgetting that’.
The Bible gives great advice on this:‘Don’t let the sun go down on your anger’.
Involves communication: sharing your plans, hopes and dreams; but also sharing your hurts, struggles and disappointments. And that needs time. There is no such thing as quality time without quantity time. 

And yes there will be times of great joy: gift of Noa
But there will also be times of dryness, ‘valleys of Baca’ experiences.
And that is where the vows are very profound. Because they speak not only of health but of sickness; they speak not only of riches, but of poverty; they speak not only of the better times, but the worse times. And the call is to continue to trust in God and to be faithful to the covenant you have made.
And the promise is that the valleys of Baca, the dry places, will spring into life again.

But this is a journey with a goal
Not just a journey to grow together in love; to increase in your delight in each other; to have a family and to grow that family – but God has called you together so that, for the next – we pray - 40, 50, 60 years, you will continue to be travelling companions on the same journey that the author of Psalm 84 was on.

He was on a literal journey to the temple, to Jerusalem. But it was a journey to the place where God is king, of security, kindness, honour and abundance – the place of intimacy with God.

My prayer is that you will continue on that journey towards God. And as you travel you will discover more and more of what is in the heart of God, of his love for you, of his glorious destiny for you and of the eternal kingdom where Jesus reigns as King.  

There will be times when the journey will involve tedious plodding, seemingly unendurable pain (like preparing to swim in the Triathlon), and at times in your relationship with God you may have to go through a few dry valleys. But there will also be moments of great rest and peace and that there will be, I pray, a deepening longing for God.

This journey towards God is the journey which will give your lives together their ultimate meaning and destination.

It is the reason I believe, that God, in his love, has called you together.

And our prayer is that as you journey together:
You will not lose sight of the purpose of your journey, of why God has called you together
You will not lose sight of the one who is beside you on the journey. In Prince Caspian, the children are seeking Aslan, but gradually they begin to realise that Aslan is the one who is running beside them.
God will bring you to that ultimate wedding banquet when Jesus is united with his bride, the church
You will know deep joy, peace and blessing – and that many will be blessed through you. 

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