Wedding Dress

  • Colossians 3:12-17; Song of Solomon 2:10-13, 8: 6-7
  • Wedding Homily for Colin Turner and Anne Valaas
  • St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Minneapolis, MN

Colin and Anne—

While we know that the weather says nothing about how the marriage will go, I’m guessing we would all like to thank you for choosing such a perfect weekend for us to spend here celebrating with you. And those of us who were around yesterday, I’m sure, would also like to thank you and your parents for such hospitality and such a wonderful evening last night. However, I have to admit, I think I drank a little too much wine at your rehearsal dinner…I was really little mentally slow by the time we left the restaurant.

I kept seeing people wearing weird things: a guy in 1970s shortie-short basketball shorts and knee socks, and I thought, “Hmm…it was warm today, but not that warm.” And then I remembered it was Halloween. 5 minutes later, I saw another guy wearing full military dress, and I wondered why he was out in that instead of maybe his fatigues…and then I remembered that it was Halloween. And then we got close to he University and I saw someone dressed as a sexy ladybug. And I thought, “Hmm…that’s an odd choice for clubbing. Maybe that’s what the kids are into these days.” And then, I remembered it was Halloween.

Now, it is entirely possible that, had you not been getting out of cars near a church, or tooling through the park with a photographer, people might have looked at the two of you early this afternoon and thought, “Look at those gorgeous costumes! And don’t they look awfully good for having stayed out partying all night and into the afternoon.”

You’re not dressed for Halloween, but you are in fact wearing costumes, and you do have a part to play: the bride and groom.

I doubt you realized it when you picked these bible readings, but you picked what I’d call the “Halloween Costume” cycle of readings for a wedding today. These are passages about dressing up, (or dressing down): about the celebration of spring, which anyone who’s spent a winter in Minnesota is about shedding of layers; about wearing your love for each other so close that it seals your heart; about daily putting on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and love, the same way that you put on a tux and a gown for this day.

Some people would argue that this idea of dressing up is inappropriate for setting up a good marriage: marriage should be about taking things off! (Innueundo aside, it should be about being able to be vulnerable with each other…) And that’s true. But dressing up is not all bad. C.S. Lewis once noticed that little kids dress up to pretend but also to practice at being grown ups. And this works for adults, too. Want to try to be happy on a glum day? Start by smiling. It will get you that much closer to being happy.

Your spouse is the perfect person to practice compassion with…everybody else has to go back to their own place at night. So you put up with them for a few hours, and they’re gone. “Set me as a seal upon your heart” sounds beautifully poetic pon a good day. But on a bad day, it can sound a lot more like you are stuck.

You are sealed, and so you have room to practice.

If you can practice being kind to the person who is closest to you, but who is also the easiest person to take for granted, you can learn to be kind to the rest of the world.

If you can practice being humble with the person who idolizes you the most, but who knows you the best, you can learn to be humble to the rest of the world.

If you can practice love with the person who you promise to love through good and bad, you can learn to be loving to the rest of the world.

In fact, it’s not so much that you are “dressing up” as these attributes. What you are really doing is this: you are practicing at being Christ to each other. You are choosing, when you get out of bed each morning, to put on the love of Christ. You are choosing, when you get into bed every night, to turn to each other and practice the gracious forgiveness of Jesus. You are choosing with each day, to grow into being the people who God calls you to be.

Marriage is not just about something between two people: Marriage is a dress rehearsal for the rest of our daily living. It is a safe place to be vulnerable, a safe place to try on new things, a safe place to practice being the person who God calls you to be.

Our hope for you today is not just a happy marriage between two people. Not just marriage where you are sealed one to the other.

Our hope and prayer is for a marriage where your practice at loving one another flows out into your practice of loving others in the world: loving friends and neighbors, family, patients, co-workers. Loving others as Christ loved us, because in your everyday living, you have clothed yourselves with Christ, the who loved us enough to be sealed to us through life and death, and to stay alongside us all the way.

This is the good news, Colin and Anne, for you today, and for all of God’s children.


One Response to “Wedding Dress”

  1. Mary Beth Says:

    Ooh, I like!