My husband was the best man in a wedding this past weekend, and when he read me the toast I had no choice but to share it with you. I think his words about husbands and wives and and marriage and words are just beautiful and poignant and well-said. And, he mentions the power of words, which we all know I’ve been writing about recently. Now for my shameless pitch: if you like what he has to say, he writes breathtakingly beautiful poetry over here (I may be a bit biased, but you won’t know until you check it out yourself).
Today we come to celebrate Chris and Paula. I could wax poetic about past experiences with Chris: the long conversations, the guitar playing, the times spent praying together, the laughs. However that would single out only you, Chris, leaving no room for accolades for Paula. Much to my chagrin, Paula and I only just met two days ago. In those small moments I could already tell this was an amazing woman and she was perfect for you Chris.
So to give credence to the mystical union between two, I would love to take an example from literature for each of you.
For you, Chris, I speak of the epic hero. I do not implore you to be a hero to Paula as Achilles who fought and existed only for his own reputation and selfish ambition, for in marriage there is no room for self. Nor do I implore you to be a hero like Odysseus, for then your love would be incomplete and your heart would wander, wild and untamed. I do not implore you to be a hero like Aeneas, who gave up his love for Dido for an ideal. No Chris. I implore you to put on Christ.
Christ is the ultimate hero and there is none like him. You see, it is so easy to follow the paths of others who come before us: our father’s, grandfathers, great men and women who have done great things. Yet they all fall short. As I said before, there is no room for the self anymore, Chris. Your life has become about honoring and putting Paula first in all you do. Nor should your heart wander again to the old ways, the old paths of immaturity and adventure. This is just folly. The greatest adventure is in Paula and fullness of life is in doing life with her. Most importantly I feel I should caution you against living for an ideal, a job, or dare I say the church. (Clear throat)* The enemy is subversive and you could very easily buy into a lie. Believe you me. You are surrounded daily by individuals who do just that and beguile themselves.
Christ exemplified throughout scripture and through Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained” stands as the ultimate hero. He implores with you, Chris. No. He commands you in the imperative: “love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” and in certain translations “died for her.: You want to be a hero for Paula? You want her to trust you, respect you and look up to you? Die for her daily and crucify your flesh to the cross. Make her your mission. Make her the great adventure. Make her and your family the ideal as Christ would. Then you can truly call yourself a hero. In this there is joy.
Paula. In my studies of literature there is no single greatest force for revolution in the life of a man then that of a woman. A woman has the ability to awaken the deep places in a man and bring him to life where he seemed dead. In dystopian literature this woman is seen as a revolutionary figure, a subversive, dare I say a DANGEROUS force that wakens the man oppressed by fear and inability. In Yevgeni Zamyatin’s work titled “WE” the woman awakens the man to a world he could only dream existed. She enables him, stands beside him, and shows him life outside of the maddening crowd. She calls him to be daring and to be dangerous. I ask and pray that you would do this for Chris. When Chris is fearful, remind Chris he is daring. When Chris forgets his vision remind him of the higher life. Consistently be a force for revolution in his life just as Christ does for us. Christ never says “that’s good enough” or calls us to settle. He calls us to deeper waters and life everlasting. He empowers the powerless and gives grace to the humble. I implore you Paula. Put on Christ in this way. In this too, there is joy.
Finally, in closing, I would like to address the power of words. The words you have spoken have bound you together this day like deep magic. With words you have pledged your troth. With words you have been bound together as we are all witness to. The power of words are exemplified in this mystical union. Sure the adage “actions speak louder than words” could be brought to bear against each other as you fail, and fail you will Chris and Paula. However words are binding. Words have power to create and unify two souls together for all time against all odds. Christ’s words had power to create action. He being perfectly God and man in one perfect body, all he had to do was speak and actions followed. The blind could see, the lame danced, and sickness fell away. When you forget how to be a hero, Chris, and ,Paula, when you don’t know how to make Chris come alive, remember the deep magic of the words you have spoken here today and their eternal power that no mortal being can tear asunder.
A toast. A toast to the adventure, a toast to the failures, a toast to the successes, a toast to the joy eternal, a toast to the great work in you that is already completed, a toast to the gospel and great witness of your marriage. Stand together, put off all socio-political and familial influence on your marriage and only let Him dictate your marriage. Outside of him there is only dysfunction. In him there is fullness of joy.