It is the Greatest Show on Earth; the people gathered by cords of love; the celebration focused on the unique and life giving union between a man and a woman. There, in the midst of every kind of love imaginable -- the love of parents and children, friendship, familial love, partnerships; love forged in working together, in worshiping together, in living together as families, friends, students, cohorts, retreatants, roommates, lovers -- there, in this sea of love, the beauty of the bride shines forth as she moves toward the welcome of the waiting groom; friends and families standing by, rejoicing.
Since the dawn of time this particular union, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, has been blessed by God. The potential for new life is mirrored in the union between Christ and his Church; potential which waits, glimmering, despite the trials and temptations, despite the difficulties and despair that haunt the living out of promises given and received. We abide in hope, with lives streaked by joy, promising to do all in our power to uphold these two, each other, and those who come forth from this marriage -- one flesh, incarnate love, a very great mystery.
"There are two kinds of love. Our love. God's love. But God makes both kinds of them." Definitions of love b y 4 - 8 year old children.
Everyone, family and friends, set themselves to provide a glorious wedding. People brought forth their several gifts, from making last minute gluten free cookies, to instructing the preschoolers that they were super-heros who needed to strew rose petals over the hot lava, lest the bride get burnt up on her way down the aisle. Music, preaching, praying, drivers, technicians, decorations, witnesses bringing their love from long distances . . . the list goes on and on. It rejoices my heart.
I think the reason I enjoyed doing theater so much was my joy in of a multitude of talents and skills poured into a single pot. This has been an underlying theme in much of my speaking and preaching. At its best, the church is place -- a way -- for gifts freely given to be poured out for the benefit of all. Can you imagine a world where that was the operating system?
"Be yourself and do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass." --Max Ehrmann
Emerging from the wedding, from the big Sur Camping and Crawdad society the following weekend, from two weeks of pre-schoolers bouncing on my bed during my morning coffee quiet time; I realized June had turned into July, without a newsletter. So here it is. Uncharacteristically short.
"Come out of the circle of time
And into the circle of love."
I will add one LOCAL OPTION: Dave Talbot, who has been the host for Mount Hermon's Summer Concert Series for 37 years, has put himself on the program this year in celebration of 50 years of playing organ and piano at Mount Hermon Conference Center. Dave is not only an accomplished musician, but an astonishing MC. I first saw him at Mount Hermon's annual Writers Conference, where I watched in utter amazement. I have never, before or since, seen anyone host a conference as well.
Dave loves hymnody, is grieved over the loss of our musical heritage for many young people. For his 7:30 concert on July 14 he will be joined by Alex Russell, director of chamber music for Azusa Pacific University. Russell will be playing an 1865 violin which is slightly larger than most concert violins. They will perform some classical music along with old hymns and Dave's trademark hymn medleys -- determined by audience suggestions.
The Mount Hermon Summer concerts are free, but people who partake of the delicious pre-concert buffet get preferential seating. See mounthermon.org for tickets and info on other concerts.
(I am suddenly reminded of family plays we did as kids, where, heavily influenced by Shakespeare, we would die tragically, rise up to give a speech, die again, add a few words, die again.... "And finally," Paul says, chapters before the end of the book...)
"Love goes on even when you stop breathing and you pick up where you left off when you reach heaven." --Kids definitions of love.