Bridget and David – you really look like basically good people. Young, attractive, friendly, and very nice.
And as I have gotten to know you, I know you are basically good people.
Marianne and I have been married (as of this past Tuesday) 44 years. Marriage has a way of making it difficult to hide yourself from yourself. Marriage is not for wimps. Marriage is for heroes. I used to think I was basically a good person. Marianne has helped me to be more honest with myself about what motivates me. This has been very good so that I can be better behaved.
But God calls us not only to be better behaved. God wants us to be holy.
St. Paul uses a particular word in some of his letters – in Greek it is “enduo”, which we translate as “put on,” but enduo is better understood as “sinking into a new garment,” I bought a new suit for a fundraising gala we had at the Franklin Plaza in February. It felt so good to put on clothes that actually fit me.
This is what Paul means when he says put on Christ, or in the third chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians at verse 10,
“put on the new nature . . .”
and in the 12th verse, which was read today
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience,”
and . . . wait for it, put on forgiveness.
Put them on! You will need them!
And in the 14th verse
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
This way of thinking is foreign to our usual way of thinking about things. We tend to value authenticity. We say that someone is really sincere, or he is very real. He’s the real deal. The genuine article. True to himself.
St. Paul also says we should put away “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk.” This is so strange sounding.
It’s not so easy to take off malice and put on kindness. It really isn’t quite like putting on a new shirt.
David wrote to me about 10 months ago to ask if they could get married here at St. Paul’s Church. They knew they wanted to be married here. People just somehow feel different in here.
Bridget was baptized here on April 5th, Easter Sunday, at the 5am Vigil Service. We all traveled (in the dark) in procession from the Martha House building, through the garden by a big fire we had out there, and around into the dark church. The Deacon chanted. I Baptized Bridget in the font at the West end. The sun came up, and then we shared Communion.
And now we are here again. Bridget and David are marrying each other. As it says in that great baptismal hymn, “A new creation comes to life and grows.”
They are taking off their old lives and putting on a new life.
St. Paul says we can do this because “the new nature is being renewed.” God’s Holy Spirit helps us to take on things that we didn’t think we could do. And that same Holy Spirit guides us to learn new skills, and take on new habits, that will help us become holy. Our new nature is being renewed.
My hope for you David and Bridget is that you will go from here being willing to learn, and eagerly help each other as much as you can.
My prayer is that God will bless you, and give you strength and endurance as you experience the adventure of being a new creation. Amen.