Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.
‘Because you're mine …’
Our reading from Ecclesiastes is about wisdom – a search/desire for wisdom – for what is right and just, for what is faithful and loving (true love rather than envy, love marked by other than mere industry or prosperity). According to one tradition, the preacher offers us, in the final verses (and somewhat surprisingly given the mood of what precedes it), an image of faith, hope and love. This “rope made of three cords,” the preacher says, “is hard to break.”
Such a rope, we might see/say, comprises an entwining partnership (“two strands are better than one”); and, moreover, at its best, a strong relationship (two strands plus a third representing the community/earth/world to which true love binds all lovers). Theologically, the third strand may constitute, may consecrate relationship itself – the marriage of one to another – and if relationship itself, then holy Trinity. God be with you …
When John and Andrew completed and submitted an Intention to Marry form, they knew, as did we, the absence of inclusive government Act and liturgical rite. They chose anyway to act on their love for each other, the presence of this love, the presence of this God.
I was very moved. As were the elders of the Church Council.
In this sense, John and Andrew, your faith and trust, your humility and graciousness, your prophetic witness (to pick up what Jesus says in Luke 4) weaves about our own deep desires – includes us, comforts and encourages us.
I imagine the strong rope needed to move the most formidable roadblocks or boulders, the heaviest and most obstinate hearts. Yes, and the strong rope needed to lift into place the “keystone” the psalmist celebrates – the stone rejected by many builders but destined for blessing – useful and beautiful.
In Christian tradition, the keystone is Christ himself – the crucified and risen One who makes all the creative/constructive difference in a world hell-
Inspired by the joy of this occasion, I imagine the strong rope in yet another sense. As a tight rope for daring performance. As a means of reminding us that love, like faith and hope, entails walking a difficult line, a fine line.
There are fine lines of patience, fairness, kindness – discerning feelings and principles, one person’s need and another’s, one couples’ needs and others’, the personal and the political, immediate concerns and wider implications.
Fine lines between mystical and dogmatic religion; honouring tradition and welcoming innovation/liberation. Fine lines between work commitments and family commitments. Temptations to selfishness, to self-
I recall the song by Johnny Cash, and my favourite verse:
You’ve got a way to keep me on your side
You give me cause for love that I can’t hide
For you I know I’d even try to turn the tide
Because you’re mine, I walk the line
Daring to love. Risking love. We might imagine Andrew singing such a verse to John. We might imagine John daring to believe it.
Daring to love. Risking love. We might imagine our own high hopes and sky ropes.
We might imagine Jesus and his walking the line on behalf of the poor and hungry, the weeping and the ones who suffer insult and rejection. “Because you’re mine,” says Jesus to these in particular, “I walk the line.”
And here’s the highest and the most (passionately) tau(gh)t rope: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you …” The fine line of discernment between foolish passivity on the one hand, and assertive/transformative wisdom on the other.
Andrew and John, thank you for roping us in today! Thank you for believing in your love and believing in us as your witnesses and friends. Love is difficult – and love’s difficulty binds us – with faith, with hope – to one another, to Christ and to the world God loves.
But love is simple too. If only we allow ourselves to be entwined, to be braided; if only we can integrate words and actions, in the Spirit of Jesus who says: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
In the name of God – Lover, Beloved and Spirit of Love – Amen.