Sunday, December 22, 2019

What Hath God Wrought

Saturday evening, Father Aaron Pidel and I co-officiated Sarah and Adam’s wedding ceremony at Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guest:

I love origin stories. Faiths have origin stories. Many of you will celebrate your faith’s origin story, from 2,000 years ago, in just four days. Nation-states have origin stories. Many of you will celebrate the origin story of an independent Jewish nation-state in Judea, beginning tomorrow night for eight days and nights.

Relationships have origin stories, too. And like origin stories of faiths and nation-states, recollections and retellings of those stories sometimes differ and sometimes complement each other. Sarah and Adam’s story is a case in point.

Here is how Adam describes it: “I was lucky enough to go on a date with Sarah. We had had a few mutual friends, and we quickly went from casually seeing one another to very seriously dating over a few months.” Simple, crisp, to the point.

Now, Adam leaves out what led to that date, and in his telling he was just lucky. Sarah goes way deeper. It’s not luck; it’s something else: “I came upon Adam. Something made me stop... I think... someone from up above intervened… He looked very handsome and had a great smile.” So, she asked him out.

Little did Sarah know; her thought was well grounded in theology. The Ancient Rabbis many centuries ago made an observation that made them scratch their heads: In the Bible, God is extremely busy in a very visible way. He’s creating the world and striking the Egyptians with plagues. He’s parting the Red Sea first and the River Jordan next. He’s raining fire on Elijah’s altar, and saving his servants, Shadrach, Meishach and Abed-Nigo, from the fiery furnace. He doesn’t really do any of that flashy stuff anymore. What has he been doing with his time, ask the Rabbis?

They tell us that he spends most of his time playing matchmaker, helping soulmates find each other, so they may fall in love and build relationships together. So, though the saying, “God is love,” might sound new-agey and like some kind of pop-theology, it’s not.

Now, check out what Paul Harvey would call, “the rest of the story,” or as the prophet Bilam put it, “What hath God wrought.”

Adam says, “Sarah... is my partner, my encouragement, and my source of strength. She makes me better, gives me unbridled confidence, and provides steadiness in my life... I know that I can count on her, I know that we share similar ideals... and I know that she accepts me as I am. I met her right after one of the lowest points in my adult life, and since then we have supported each other continuously... I cannot see myself with a better partner to live out the rest of my life.”

And Sarah says, “We have now been together for 5 years... We have celebrated triumphs... We also were together for tragedies... It really brought us closer... We have seen each other at our best and at our worst. I know that this is the man I want by my side for the rest of my life.”