John 15:9-17 NRSV
9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants[a] any longer, because the servant[b] does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
On June 30, 1997, J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter Book became available for sale in the UK. June 30th is a GOOD DAY for a wedding.
“On August 28, 1968, Thuan and Win were married AND tens of thousands of people protested the Vietnam War in Chicago. On Nov. 9, 1989 Jurgen and Adeline were married AND the Berlin Wall came down. On January 21, 2017, Gonzalo and Isabella were married AND … millions of people marched worldwide to advocate for human rights. On this same day in 1951, John’s grandparents, Dick and Charmond, were married … 67 years ago to this very day. And, on THIS day, June 30, 2018, you, Sarah and John are being married right here, right now, while millions of people are filling our streets to protest the separation of immigrant families in a march that will forever be known as: Families Belong Together.
And you especially understand the depth of this slogan: Families Belong Together.
I know this because…
I heard about your Pre-ception in Florence, NC, where you and 40 of your family members, on BOTH sides, gathered on Memorial Day Weekend so that you could share your love, and the joy of this season of your life, with Sarah’s grandma, Mary Virginia, who was unable to attend today. The way I heard this story was that you and John decided to visit your grandma, and then your family decided to join you, and then your family decided to join you, and then a few others, who couldn’t be here today, decided to join you because NO ONE wanted to be left out of celebrating your love and marriage. And so what maybe began as a quick weekend getaway to see Mary Virginia, ended up being a weekend-long family celebration!
Which is great! And also suggests that when you plan a weekend getaway for some romance … you don’t tell your family until you get back.
I also know that you understand that while it is true that families belong together, this does not always happen as neatly as we wish. You have spent all of your engagement living in separate states, and you will begin your marriage in this same way, while John finishes his doctoral work here in Ann Arbor and Sarah returns to Austin. And this is something about which you’ll need to be creative – to figure out new ways to stay “together” even when you are “apart.” Never were things like Google Hangouts and FaceTime so important as in a marriage that is in a season of being together across the miles.
In Today’s Gospel, vs. 10, Jesus says, in part: Abide in my love. In The Message, Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the bible, he puts it this way: make yourselves at home in my love.
Make yourselves at home in MY love.
And I like that because it is easier to imagine.
Making ourselves at home in the love of Jesus means –
Wear what makes you comfortable
Step away for solitude when you need to
Make the comfort soup for one another when things get hard
Wear out the couch
Do love. Make love. Be love.
Listen. Pray. Remember who you are and whose you are.
And remember that whatever you find in this beautiful, exhausting, dangerous, glorious hike called marriage, that Jesus remains with you. And waterfalls, were strategically placed along the way for those who thirst, who need to plan, who need to rest.
And yet, in this same passage we read these prophetic words: that no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
And that, too is worth pondering throughout the course of your life together. Because there will surely be times when one of you will need to willingly lay down your goals, your plans, your preferences for the other. This is the true test of love. And being at home in the love of Jesus will help you remember that sometimes, love is made manifest, not in what we have and hold, but in what we had and willingly gave up.
Sarah and John, you could have cleaned up at this wedding, had you accepted gifts of the finest kind. Instead, you chose to “register” for gifts to five different agencies who are all working on behalf of immigrants in the United States.”
This will be easy for you to remember. And I suggest that as you remember THIS choice that you made on this holy occasion, that you allow it to help you continue to choose to give yourselves away … to one another, to your family and friends, to the world.
For as St. Francis reminds us:
It is in giving that you will receive
It is in forgiving, that you will find forgiveness
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Families Belong Together.
You belong together.
And on this historic day, your love echoes the cries of those protesting across this nation because you are saying, in the face of families unjustly separated, Love Never Fails. Love has no end. Love believes all things, endures all things, and does not rejoice in injustice, but in the truth.
Your decision to stand here today and give yourselves to one another is to rise up, in a world filled with division and separation and say: Families Belong Together. Love always wins.
For you are witnesses to the greatest love of all —
The Love that rises … even from the grave.
Sermon given at the wedding of Sarah Cannon and John Haiducek, King of Kings Lutheran Church, Ann Arbor, Mihigan