Please don’t ask me to officiate any more weddings,” I begged my two clergy colleagues on our church staff. After a string of wedding mishaps, I needed a break from less-than-ideal experiences. I had recently performed a ceremony for a couple who forgot to get a marriage license, and I had to marry them again officially after their honeymoon. Then I officiated at a wedding during which the bride talked to her attendants throughout the ceremony, even during the Lord’s Prayer. Things were not going well for me in the world of weddings. But our large church received so many wedding requests that all of us had to step up and preside over our fair share of ceremonies.
After my grumbling, God surprised me with a wonderful blessing in the next couple I worked with. They were friendly, upbeat, and committed to spending a life together that included practicing their faith. We met several times before the ceremony to talk about marriage and pray together. When their wedding day arrived, I felt as excited as others in the church—not just because my disappointing wedding streak had passed, but because of my excitement about their sharing a life in Christ as married people. This rewarding experience and today’s reading describe weddings that exemplify why many Christian traditions call marriage a holy sacrament: They point us to God’s holiness. No matter how quirky a wedding can be, marriage reminds us of God’s covenant and the abundant, sturdy grace it requires of those who would join their lives together.
God of surprise, we know your love comes through marriage. Be with all the couples and officiants celebrating weddings today. Amen.
The poetry of Song of Solomon is thick with romantic imagery, and most scholars agree that these lines mean what they say on the surface; they are written from the author to the beloved. Psalm 45 echoes the refrain of admiration and desire. Such desire is not wrong if it is awakened at the proper time, as the author of Song of Solomon says elsewhere. James argues that ethical living is done not in word but in deed. True religion is not putting on a show but displaying mercy and controlling the tongue. Jesus rebukes some of the religious leaders in Mark on this very account because they talk of obedience to God but do not live it out. What we say and what we do should match.
• Read Song of Solomon 2:8-13. The narrative poetry of Song of Solomon invites us into the Bible in a way that differs from other texts. How does God speak to you through this poetry?
• Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9. Intimate human love can reflect God’s love. How do your relationships honor the gift of love?
• James 1:17-27. How do you bring God’s love to those who need it?
• Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23. Are you simply going through the motions of faith, or is your heart close to God?
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