A Wedding Homily

John 15:9-12

An Easter Marriage

By The Rev. Charles Hoffacker

I would invite us all to consider where this wedding is located in time, for the location of this particular wedding in time may reveal to us something of its significance, its purpose. In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Today is April 5. On the calendar of the Episcopal Church and some other church calendars as well, today is the Friday in Easter Week. For Easter is not simply one day: it is a season of fifty days, and the first week of this season is of special importance, with each day having its proper name, such as today, the Friday in Easter Week.

Even more than the rest of the year, Easter Season is a time when the Christian focus is on Christ resurrected, the Lord who dies on the cross yet is raised from the dead, triumphant over all forces of destruction. The victorious Christ is our focus during this season. These fifty days are to the year what Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is to the week.

The resurrection of Jesus is a unique event, something that happens in history, yet opens the door to eternity. But this unique event does not stand alone. It is not some isolated occurrence. Instead, the resurrection of Jesus contains the promise of many other resurrections. It is the pattern for these other resurrections.

Jesus risen from the dead is the first fruits of a general resurrection that will occur at the end of time. His resurrection comes like the first crocus after an interminable winter that brings to us the promise of a spring-time abundant with flowers. Easter announces this general resurrection when time will come to an end, but Easter announces even more than that. Easter helps us recognize and name and celebrate resurrection in a thousand different forms that appear in our lives and in the lives of the people around us.

There is resurrection for Jesus after he dies on the cross for us, and there can be resurrection for us, even in the course of our lives. Why? Because before we die at life’s end, we die at other times, and we need to be raised to life again, to a life greater than before.

That’s why it seems so appropriate that this wedding take place during Easter Season, on this Friday in Easter Week. Here we have a groom and a bride, each with deep experience of adult life. Each has experienced various deaths along the way. Each has found in the other something of the promise of Easter. Each is eager to live a new and different life, a resurrection life.

Linda and Emil, do you see that cross? It is heavy and rough hewn, like the cross on which Jesus died. When he was nailed to the wood, it brought him pain and shame and death. Yet look now, and see on the cross the beauty of flowers. Each of you has known your own pain and shame and death along life’s path; all this seems to come with the territory, doesn’t it? May your marriage be a resurrection. May it be an expression of Easter. May we who surround you continue to see in your life together something of Christ risen and victorious.

The gospel passage from John that will be read in countless churches next Sunday [John 20:19-31] tells of how the disciples recognized the risen Jesus by the marks of crucifixion, the holes in his hands and his feet and his side.

Here is a clue for your resurrection marriage, your Easter life together. Like those of Jesus, your old wounds will not simply vanish as though they had never been. But they will become—indeed, already they are becoming—different from what they once were. Once the marks of pain and shame and death, they will become, by the grace of Christ, bright and glorious, even as his wounds did. Your wounds, like his, will bear witness to a love stronger, more powerful, than those wounds, a love that heals the injured, raises the dead, and makes all things new.

The gospel you chose for this service comes from what Jesus said to his disciples on the night before his crucifixion. In it he speaks of his joy present in his followers that their joy may be complete.

Emil and Linda, Jesus has called you to that joy. He has called you past your particular crucifixions to share with him in his resurrection life and to be a sign to others of that resurrection life.

This Friday in Easter Week is only the start.

Copyright 2008 The Rev. Charles Hoffacker. Used by permission.

Fr. Hoffacker is an Episcopal priest and the author of “A Matter of Life and Death: Preaching at Funerals” (Cowley Publications).