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A Wedding Address for Phil and Catherine

August 30, 2014

I had the privileged today of taking part or officiating at two weddings. Both were expressions of hope and joy, but I want to focus on just one of them here. I preached at the wedding of our Christian Pastoral Support Worker at Archbishop Sancroft High School. Catherine does a wonderful job. She is an inspiration and has a real gift at being able to draw along side young people who do not give their trust easily.

Both Catherine and her new husband have a living faith and so I want to share the notes I prepared for their Wedding Address in the hope that it might say something to others too:

A Wedding Address for Phil and Catherine

You all know about the fairy-story version of marriage. A beautiful princess goes into a forest and sees a frog. She kisses the frog. He turns into a prince. They get married, and all live happily ever after. But we’re not here to consider fairy stories. We’re here to celebrate Phil and Catherine’s wedding day.

Our Bible reading (1 Corinthians 13) made it clear that all relationships but especially marriage are based on the foundation of Love. Real, practical love. And our standard for Love is God’s love. Firstly God’s love is unconditional and limitless – ideals to strive for even if we never achieve them. But God doesn’t ask us to achieve a perfect standard before He accepts us. He loves his people as they are. I’m so grateful that my relationship to Jesus is not dependent on my feelings which vary from day to day, but on God’s commitment to love me unconditionally.

By getting married today, Phil and Catherine are saying, in front of all those people: “I am making a commitment to unconditionally love this person in the way that Christ loves me.”

I suspect that unconditional love has always been unpopular, but in our society, conditional love has become acceptable. I was saddened by watching a television programme about a couple undergoing treatment for fertility. The husband said on screen that if the programme was unsuccessful, he would have to consider whether he would stay in the relationship because he wanted children. Imagine how that made his wife feel? Where was the commitment to love unconditionally?

So, Phil and Catherine, you are about to commit yourselves to try to love each other unconditionally for the rest of your lives. That should be a thrill. It will also be hard work as I’m sure you know. But keep reading 1 Corinthians 13.

Read St. Paul’s advice. Let the Holy Spirit work in you to give you a love that is patient, and kind without envy. A love that leads you away from being boastful or proud. A love that does not dishonour others, is not self-seeking, not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs.

Finally, Catherine and Phil, live your love, and through your love let your God steadily transform you both into the new person he created you to be.

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