Sunday, June 27, 2021

Child of Love

Saturday afternoon, I officiated Libby and Larry’s wedding ceremony at the Four Seasons, on the Peninsula Papagayo, in Costa Rica. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Why on earth would a rabbi base his personal remarks at a wedding on a song that proclaims, “I found a friend in Jesus,” seems like a fair question. You might say what Ricky said to Lucy, “You got some splainin to do.”

When I was thinking of Libby and Larry’s love story, I just happened to be listening to Child of Love an extraordinary song from the contemporary Christian music band, We the Kingdom. And the truth is that listening to Christian music for inspiration was historically quite common. Famous rabbis and cantors would even visit churches to listen to worship and then adapt the tunes for Jewish prayers.

What really captivated me, though, beyond the superb music, IS the message in the song. Obviously, the lyrics are written in a specific Christian context, but there is a universal message embedded in it too.

Listen to some of the words, “I was walking the wayside, lost on a lonely road, I was chasing the high life, tryna satisfy my soul… Then I saw lightning from Heaven, and I’ve never been the same. I’m gonna climb a mountain, I’m gonna shout about it, I am a child of love... I found a world of freedom, I am a child of love”

Franni Rae Cash Cain, the main female vocalist, explains what is behind these words and the name of the song being Child of Love, rather than what we might expect, Child of God, “I think sometimes I tend to think of God as an angry God who wants me to do everything perfectly all the time; and that’s been my tendency growing up to view God, the Father, that way. This song has helped renew my understanding of who He really is as such a loving Father, and so I’m just excited about how this song is going to speak to other people and hopefully communicate God’s love to them.”

This tendency to think of God as angry is deeply embedded in our American culture. One of the first works you will study in American Literature 101 in college is Jonathan Edwards’ Sinners in the Hand of Angry God. This puritanical strain of American religion has been tremendously harmful to generations of Americans and has separated us from one another.

What Libby and Larry’s marriage and the presence of her brother and I up here together show us is that we are better off with Franni Rae’s spiritual convictions. Connection is better than separation. Forgiving our differences and inadequacies and reflecting the divine love that all around us is the best path.

That to me is the message of this beautiful song. That to me is the message of this beautiful couple. We are all children of love.  

Friday, June 11, 2021

A Tropical Contact High

Sunday morning (6/6), I officiated Katie and Mason’s wedding ceremony at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I love how Katie describes her spirituality: “I always felt more in tune with God (spiritually) when I was in nature… I find significance in small details or coincidences. I believe they are signs that help me follow and choose the right path.”

Mason, being extremely attuned to this side of Katie, says that though their first date was on the mini golf course, and unnatural sport if there ever was one, he shrewdly asked her to be his “girlfriend in an official capacity,” (his words, not mine), on a mountain having “lugged an entire cooler and picnic set up,” (again, his words, not mine).

Maybe that’s why when they were to move in together, he took her to live with him on an island. Somebody should have told him that Rhode Island is not really an island. Ah, well.

Ok, seriously, though, the reason we are here today does have to do with a real island, specifically a small country, which admittedly, in the words of the eponymous character in the movie Arthur, would likely have been defeated by the almighty armies of Rhode Island. I speak of course of that constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Aruba.

Mason says, “After five months of living in Rhode Island, we took a much-needed vacation to Aruba. It was Katie’s first time out of the country. I decided to propose on the last day of our trip on the beach… I took the initiative to propose as I believe we were both looking for something more and knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with each other.”

Now, everyone knows that it is patently illegal in about 27 states to mention the words Aruba and beach, without acknowledging that Beach Boys song. You know which one I speak of, their final big hit and one the greatest earworms ever composed, Kokomo.

I think that is quite fitting, because though the song invokes an imaginary place, it describes the refuge that marriage should be, the place you may escape from the quotidian worries of life, “That's where you wanna go to get away from it all.”

It describes the state of mind marriage should embody, not just that you have once fallen in love, in the past, but perpetually in present and future tense, “falling in love to the rhythm of a steel drum band.”

Most importantly, it describes what every marriage should aspire to, “We'll get there fast and then we'll take it slow.” Go the distance, and methodically perfect “your chemistry,” so for many years to come you can indeed “defy a little bit of gravity,” as, “that dreamy look” in each other’s eyes really does give you “a tropical contact high.”

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Timing is Everything

Saturday evening, I officiated Toni and Phillip’s wedding ceremony at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel, on the City View Terrace, in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I always ask every couple not only why they want to get married, but why now? These are related but distinct questions. I found Toni and Phillip’s answer both instructive and insightful.

Toni writes, “The timing on everything in our relationship has pretty much worked out perfectly. From our timeframe of introducing our kids, to the timing of us moving in together. The timing of Phillip’s decision to propose on Christmas Eve not knowing it was Toni’s parents’ wedding anniversary ended up making the proposal even more special. Even our schedules worked out perfectly so on our first holiday season as a couple we were able to spend an entire week together.”

I love that. I will venture to say that the younger we are, the less we think about time and timing; we just live in the moment. There is a beauty in that carefree existence. However, as we grow older, and life seasons us a little, time and timing become a more important part of who we are, in good times and in bad. This has the potential to make the relationships we build, especially those of the romantic variety so much richer.

This idea and specifically Toni’s phrasing naturally made me think of that hauntingly beautiful and meaningful song by Garrett Hedlund, Timing is Everything. When you listen to the words, it really speaks to the essence of how Toni and Phillip each view the other, and their good fortune in having swiped right when they did:

When the stars line up

And you catch a break

People think you're lucky

But you know its grace

It can happen so fast

Or a little bit late

Timing is everything…

I remember that day

When our eyes first met

You ran into the building to get out of the rain

Cause you were soaking wet

And as I held the door

You wanted to know my name

Timing is everything


And I could've been another minute late

And you'd never would've crossed my path that day

And when it seems true love is hard to find

That's when love comes along

Just in time

You can call it fate

Or destiny

Sometimes it really seems like its a mystery

Cause you can be hurt by love

Or healed by the same

Timing is everything