The Homily for Kathryn Fehrman and Mark Campbell
We come from love, we return to love, and love is all around - Pierre Wolff
We are here to take the time to be mindful of how it is we can live in this reality.
Our Busy lives give us little time to contemplate such things. So as much as I am giving you a last bit of time before you join one another in marriage. Let's Contemplate just what is going on here.
We have said the two of you are signs: Signs of The mystery of the union between God-HaShem and his people and all of his creation. Therefore, you represent the intersection of life's two fundamental relationships. The horizontal, a man and a woman reaching out to join one another, to unite as one.
And you also represent the relationship between God and the world and creatures and environment God created and loves. The vertical as it intersects the horizontal.
So we are all really renewing, or perhaps first becoming mindful, that we all live at the intersection of these horizontal and vertical relationships of love and our unity with the source of all things, seen and unseen.
Now we might not call the source of all this God, Adonai, HaShem, Christ - or, we might join with Paul Tillich and call it "the ground of Being". Or, The Big Bang, or we might call it nothing at all. But once in a while we all wonder what this is all about, where it is we come from, and what if anything we ought to be doing. Anyone who asks such questions is religious, whether or not they cop to it, for this is what religion is meant to be mindful about. Like everyone else, religion gets distracted with other things, but eventually it always comes back to these basic questions.
The Vietnamese Buddhist Tich Nhat Hanh says God is so beyond our understanding that we really ought to say nothing about this source of all things. Yet, here we are so let's take our chances.
You have chosen three texts to be read that attempt to point us in some direction about all this. They are three quite mystical texts and perhaps it is best not to say too much about them but simply let them speak to us.
In order, the Song of Songs. Repetition like this in Hebrew indicates emphasis beyond good , better, best. This is THE SONG OF ALL SONGS!!!! Underline, Bold print, etc. This is some song! Much like the two of you for all of us, the man and woman in this most wonderful Love Song are thought to represent this vertical relationship I mentioned, in this case, between God and God's people Israel. Many waters cannot quench the vehement fire of this love from which we come and to which one day we will all return. We now know that we are made of stardust from burnt out stars, we give new life to this cosmic dust, and unto dust we shall return to be re-created as we know not what. It is a divine ecology sustained by the source of love and the love that is all around - all these people, and creatures and plants and rivers and lakes and oceans we touch in our horizontal life. Love is about reaching out to others - all others and all of creation.
Then comes Paul the former Pharisee doing his level best, in Koine Greek no less, writing to the Corinthians (chapter 13) trying to give some shape and meaning to this love of HaShem and the important role it plays in all things. Without this kind of love I am a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. Since I am at heart a drummer, this gets real close to my reality since that is what I do best: beating drums and clanging cymbals.
Believe it or not, we had to memorize this in High School. In the King James Version. Which speaks of Faith, Hope and Charity. A newer translation had just come out that replaced charity with "love," and of course there were The Beatles and the Summer of Love and Woodstock Nation and all that....so we petitioned Clara King our English teacher to memorize the new Revised Standard Version so we could say love. I went to school for an extra three years in seminary only to learn that the Love of the Bible, the Love of God, is a giving kind of love. It is about doing something useful or helpful for someone else, especially widows, orphans and yes, resident aliens - who represent people without resources, dependent as we once were in the wilderness when God provided daily bread. It turns out you do not even have to like someone to love them as God loves them.
Then there is Jesus (in John chapter 17) praying for his disciples and us (auto correct knows what I should have said and kept typing USA!). It's a part of several chapters describing the Last Supper. Oddly, there is no mention at all of bread or wine. Instead, Jesus strips down and washes everyone's feet as an example of reaching out in love to others. And he issues a commandment to love one another "as I have loved you." And if that is not enough, in you spare time love your enemies. That's Jesus for you. Always raising the bar. It's like the movie Spinal Tap when the guitarist says, "All other amps only go to 10. Mine goes to 11! That's one more!" Then he talks about unity, and how I am you and he is me and you are we and we are all together. Koo koo kachoo! Bottom line, we are all one with God HaShem, one another and all of creation whether or not we think much about that.
Now I have said too much about God about whom I should say nothing, and God's name. In the tradition God's name ought not to be spoken. It is a Tetragrammaton! Four letters in Hebrew: Yodh He Vav He! You've seen it all on gold necklaces. It is thought to be pronounced Yaweh. When it is read in worship, however, it is replaced with Adonai, indicated in the scroll with the vowels for Adonai. This name that must not be spoken was mistakenly was turned into Jehovah using those vowels with the YHVH by some not so clever 19th century theologians who should have known better than to talk about God and God's name.
More recent scholarship suggests that the name is meant to mimic the sound of breathing....ya weh, ya weh. Which in turn suggests that the first word we say when we are born and the last thing we say when we return to love is God's name. The beauty of this is that there is no Christian, Jewish, Islamic or Buddhist way of breathing. There is no rich, poor or middle class way of breathing. No American, German, Iranian, Israeli, Afghan or Saudi way of breathing. And we all breath the same air made of that same cosmic dust from the origin of the universe. The same air that all persons since the earliest humans all the way to the astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station breathe. It turns out we are all in this together. Horizontal and Vertical are represented here by these two people. Being united as one is no longer a hypothetical idea, it is a scientific fact.
By the way, be sure to have a guest book and get all our names and email addresses and phone numbers because everyone here made a promise to do all in our power to support the two of you in this new adventure. Not some of what's in our power, or even a lot, or what we feel like doing, but all that is in our power. So let's turn around and see what the love of God really looks like! There it is: the love that is all around you in this community of Love gathered here this day that will be with you for ever and ever.
We come from love, we return to love, and love is all around. The two of you are a sign for all of us to remember this. So let's go!