Marriage Meditation

At the wedding of Shirley Haines and Howard Alton in St. Paul's, Kingston, June 16, 2002

by Robert Brow   (

Mollie and I have known Shirley as a very close friend for 24 years, and we are thrilled to share with her and Howard in this very wonderful occasion.

In a few minutes the minister will say, "Howard and Shirley have joined themselves to each other by solemn vows, signified by the joining of hands and the giving and receiving of rings after the marriage vows and the exchange of rings. I declare that they are husband and wife, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Those are the words spoken at every baptism. And on many occasions we speak of "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit." That does not refer to a complicated theology of the Trinity. It is the basic experience common to all Christians. God the Father above us. God the Son, the King who invites us to share in his kingdom. The Holy Spirit working powerfully within us.

Both Shirley and Howard have known the eternal Son of God as their friend since they were children. I want to remind you June 16, 2002 today that Jesus was known throughout the Old Testament as the Lord of history. When you read the words Jehovah (Yahweh), Sovereign, Shepherd, that's him. He intervenes in nations and families and situations, often in very unexpected ways (you have experienced that in the past three weeks !). It is not just that we are "ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven" as individuals. We are royalty, his nobility in Royal Priesthood. All over the world "people and realms of every tongue" are experiencing the blessings that abound "where'er he reigns." Prisoners are leaping to loose their chains, the weary are finding eternal rest. As a couple you are going to be part of that.

We also look to the love of God the Father. Like a loving parent, he watches over us and cares for his family. That means he longs to free us to be little children who can enjoy life, learn new things, explore, play, forgive, have friends. As Father he delights in our family life, and he knows the problems that can arise and how love can resolve them. A family is created by eating together, and in a moment Shirley and Howard are going to eat at the Father's table. It is a place where his children can meet, and a banquet to which others can be invited. So this communion table is a model or prototype for the family creation that Shirley and Howard, and their children and grandchildren are going to enjoy.

Shirley and Howard also know the Holy Spirit who is more than willing to give them all the wisdom and inspiration and creative energy that they will need from deep within their hearts. He is the source of love and joy and peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, and self-control. What more could we need to make our family beautiful and a joy to others. But the Holy Spirit never forces himself into our life, but rather waits to be invited as "a gracious willing guest." I am sure Shirley and Howard will welcome him into every happy, and perhaps difficult situation, to do infinitely more than anything we could ask or imagine for them.

In a moment we will have special prayers for their new life together, but I suggest every time we have news of them, or phone, or think of them, we can pray: "Father, watch over and take care of this family of your children. Lord Jesus, may they share in the healing blessings of your reign. Holy Spirit, keep filling them again and again with your wisdom and energy and creative inspiration." Those are prayers that are certainly according to God's will, and that means we can be sure they will be answered.

So let's have a moment of thanksgiving for them both, and rejoice in the blessings God has in mind for them in their new life together.

(silent prayer)

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