by Brian Walsh
They say that church is a good place to meet a life partner. They are right, especially if that church meets at 7.22 on Tuesday mornings and is called Wine Before Breakfast. We’ve had a few WBB marriages and the most recent was on New Years Day when Ann Andree and Lydell Wiebe made covenant with each other.
Ann and Lydell asked Sylvia and I if we would write a targum on Colossians 3.12-17 for their wedding. What would this text sound like if it was written by St. Paul for Ann and Lydell and the gathered community at the Church of the Redeemer in Toronto on January 1, 2011? Well, it might sound something like this:
My dear friends assembled at the Church of the Redeemer on this first day of 2011.
And my beloved Lydell and Ann, standing before all of us in your beautiful wedding finery.
You have clothed yourselves well for this wonderful occasion.
But on this day I speak to you of another kind of clothing.
On this wedding day I call you to array yourself with another wardrobe,
…one more costly,
…and more difficult to wear
…than the finest wedding gown and suit.
My dear friends, holy and beloved,
clothe yourself with compassion.
Make covenant today that you will
bear each other’s pain,
as you embrace the pain of a broken world.
And when you are tempted with bitterness
wear the cloak of kindness.
When you are too sure of yourself,
wear humility as you listen, ever so closely,
to the voice of your lover.
Receiving your marriage as a precious gift,
replace grasping and control
When you are frustrated with each other,
when things aren’t happening the way you think they should,
or as quickly as you want them to,
slow down, take a deep breath,
and embrace patience.
But here’s the thing, Ann and Lydell,
here’s the sad truth, family members,
here’s the hard reality, gathered community,
we will not live with compassion, kindness,
humility, meekness and patience.
Too often, these will not be the clothes that you will wear.
arrogance, harshness and impatience,
will too often be the reality of your lives together.
So, let’s abandon all cheap sentimentality today
and wear the robes of forgiveness in our lives.
When you disappoint each other,
when you hurt each other,
allow a spirit of forgiveness to restore you.
May you wear compassion, kindness,
humility, meekness, patience and forgiveness,
as the very clothes of their lives.
But above all,
clothe yourselves with love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
As you “tie the knot”
bind it all in a love that goes beyond the wonderful feelings
that we all share today,
…a love that is steadfast,
…a love that is faithful,
…a love that is rooted in the God who is love.
In a world of enmity,
in a world of violence,
in a world of oppression,
may your marriage be a signpost of shalom.
And let peace of Christ
so rule in your hearts
that you will be a witness for peace
in your household,
in your vocations,
in your communities.
In a world of entitlement
practice radical gratitude.
Embrace your life together
with the smile of thanksgiving.
And as you make a home together,
as you dwell together in covenantal love,
let the word of Christ dwell in your richly;
let his living and transforming word
be at home in your marriage,
so that you will be blessed with wisdom.
And don’t forget to sing.
Get the piano and the flute going together,
invite your friends over,
convene parties for the Wine Before Breakfast Bandhood
and sing, my dear friends, sing.
Sing songs of joy and gratitude,
sing songs of lament and hurt,
sing odes to joy and odes to pain,
Put on these clothes, Ann and Lydell,
array yourself with these virtues,
so that whatever you do in word or deed,
…whether it be
……caring for the good folks at the Gateway
……or designing safer buildings for habitation;
……making a family together
……or writing poetry for each other;
……or managing the household finances;
…whatever you do in word or deed,
indeed, the very fabric of your lives,
…will be done in the name of Jesus,
…and in deep, deep gratitude to God our Father.