So, yes, like many others, I was glued (off and on) to the T.V., taking in the beauty of the royal wedding. I love wedding ceremonies, be they great or small.
I love the godly tradition of man and woman united in holy matrimony, before the very God of life. I am amazed at how God created such an institution, so great, so binding, so blessed, that it is compared to Jesus Christ's relationship with the church. This great mystery, in which the sinless, blameless, Christ is in such love, and is united with a church, a body, full of sinners who realize they are in need of grace. This great mystery in which a man and a woman, from different families, various experiences, now share a bond so sacred, they are more than "family," but they are one flesh. This great mystery! (Ephesians 5:22-31)
I want to share with you a few excerpts from a sermon given today at the royal wedding, by the Right Reverend Dr. Richard Chartres, Lord Bishop of London. His words on marriage:
"'Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.' So said St. Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.
Many are full of fear for the future of the prospects of our world but the message of the celebrations in this country and far beyond its shores is the right one – this is a joyful day! It is good that people in every continent are able to share in these celebrations because this is, as every wedding day should be, a day of hope.
In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.
William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.
And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.
A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.
It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centredness. And people can dream of doing such a thing but the hope should be fulfilled, it is necessary, a solemn decision that, whatever the difficulties, we are committed to the way of generous love. . .
. . . Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform our partner. There must be no coercion if the Spirit is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom. . .
. . . As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive, we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.
As we move towards our partner in love, following the example of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is quickened within us and can increasingly fill our lives with light. This leads to a family life which offers the best conditions in which the next generation can practise and exchange those gifts which can overcome fear and division and incubate the coming world of the Spirit, whose fruits are love and joy and peace."
How remarkable, these words, spoken in a time when many take marriage lightly, nothing more than a contract, an arrangement, a matter of convenience. But these words remind us of the great joy, the great love, and the great responsibility marriage brings--this great mystery.