Monday, 10 March 2014

Holy Ground: a Short Wedding Homily—for Hugh and Bonnie McDonald

…with reference to Exodus 3.1-6 and Mark 10.6-9. Exodus??!!?? For a wedding? I love atypical reading choices. 

Hugh and Bonnie were just living their lives, their plain, ordinary lives, just like Moses when he was tending the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law. (Ex 3.1) Bonnie was running her store and Hugh was enjoying retirement and wood-carving, they both did a little dancing. Then one day, they headed off their separate, familiar beaten tracks a little, like that time when Moses led his flock to the far side of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God, (Ex 3.1) and saw something that he wasn't expecting. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “Wow! Look at that! I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” (Ex 3.2-3)

One day Bonnie and Hugh saw something they weren't expecting, either, and Bonnie said to herself, “Wow! Look at that! I like the look of him.” And who knows what Hugh thought, but secretly, and in a very gentlemanly way, something inside him was going, “Va-va-voom!” Which is an old-fashioned and more polite way of saying…well…you know. And something started to smolder. It burned but nothing was singed or blackened or burned up with them, either.  It was actually rather nice. Heart warming. And then, like Moses, one of them said, or maybe it was both of them, "I will go over and look at more closely at this hotness and see what's causing my temperature to rise." Pretty soon they were both feeling pretty cosy and warm and they discovered that it got warmest when they were together and they liked the feeling and they started turning aside to enjoy the flame more and more often.

And When the LORD saw that they, like Moses, had gone over to have a look, only in their case it was at each other, and they kept hanging out there warming their hands and grinning at each other all the time. God called to them from within the bush, just like he did to Moses, and he said, “Hugh and Bonnie! Bonnie and Hugh!” And they said, “Here we am…are.” Then God said, “Before you get any closer to each other, it's time to get serious! The first thing you have to do is to realize that, as a couple, for you to be on holy ground with me we’ve got to get Jesus involved. Your ground can never be truly holy without him. And for that to happen, you have to take off your sandals.” Why did God want Moses then, and Hugh and Bonnie now, to take their sandals off? Because if they left them on, they would track the unholy dirt and dust and grime of the world into what is supposed to be a holy place, which needs to be kept clean and pure because it’s holy. We do something similar, as a sign of respect, when we take our shoes off when we get home or visit someone else's home.

Hugh and Bonnie looked at each other, and Hugh said, “I think we’d better get over on that holy ground. Will you marry me?"

Which brings us here this evening. Bonnie and Hugh “have come to enter this holy state” (The Book of Alternative Services, p529), as we heard earlier, will make vows to each other “according to God’s holy law,” (Ibid, p 531) as they will say to each other shortly. Making their vows is like taking off their sandals so they can step onto holy ground and meet there heart to heart enveloped by the warmth and love of the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ who met Moses in that burning bush and who will make them into one flesh before our very eyes.