St. Philip's Renewal of Vows, February, 2011
First, let me say, Peggy and I are so pleased to be invited here today. Thank you for asking us, John. We have missed all our old friends. We often reminisce about out 24 wonder filled years. We think so often of this slice of heaven called St. Philip's.
Let us start out thoughts by quoting from a delightful little book by Ogden Nash. He writes; "After a third of a century of marriage, I find myself still a student husband. I have done my reading, my research and my homework. I have tangled with trial and error, theory and practice,...yet today I feel as far from my diploma as on that afternoon in June when I stood at the altar in a state of mingled triumph and trepidation.
"As my own examiner," he goes on to say, "I have given myself passing marks in a tidy number of tests but I have had to flunk myself on too many others. There still remains an alarming list of subjects in which I have a vast amount of work to make up. I hope someday to graduate---if not with honors, at least with a respectable degree."
Well, student husbands and student wives, I greet you on this Valentine weekend. Here we are, with hope for the future, not having graduated, but renewing our promises, and possibly reflecting on what this course called marriage is all about.
So for today, I would ask you to acknowledge the good as well as the bad in you life together; the times you flunked the course as well as the times you have gotten an A in this business of marriage, the times when the bonds of marriage were the most fragile, the times when love was only a four letter word that had nothing to do with reality.
I think most of you know now, even if you didn't know when you first made your vows, that there isn't such a thing as a perfect marriage. difficult times are part of a marriage. Maybe some of us have learned that, in the long run, those hard time might have been the most instructive and rewarding.
In all honesty, it is not just the difficult times. It is also a fact that many of us are not as lovable as we wish. We are not the easiest persons to accept. Sometimes we student husbands and student wives leave a lot to be desired. I repeated this theme one time during a pre marital session. The bride turned to me and said: "OK, you are the counselor what do I do about it when he acts like a jerk?" For a moment I could not think of anything to say. Finally, I said: "Cultivate a bad memory." Sometimes, it is important to forget. Forget the many times each of you stumble, flunk the course (to use Ogden Nash's analogy. I think the first step on this special day is to acknowledge that we have not graduated. We still have a way to go.
One of my all time favorite writers is Ellen Goodman. In a classic valentine column she interviewed her Uncle Mike who had been married 41 years. Ms. Goodman asked her uncle what was the secret ingredient that kept the marriage together. This is what he said: " When I get up in the morning and look in the mirror, I say to myself---you're no bargain." then by evening he is a-twitter with appreciation at his wife who loves him anyway.
it is, the ingredient of love that makes it
endure--the knowledge and acceptance of our imperfection. This is the beginning of real love. This how
Near the end of the wedding service, there is a prayer that I always use. It is this: "Give them grace that when they hurt each other, to recognize and acknowledge their fault and to seek each other's forgiveness--and yours." Love, real love, can only take place between two vulnerable, fragile people who are willing to acknowledge their failures and accept each other as they are.
to you lovers who have come to renew your vows: Remember the promises you made
so long ago, they symbolize this love to which
remember---Love fully, forget often and forgive, as you have been