I’m trying to think of something meaningful to say at the reception when I toast the couple. Of course it’s easy to say and think lovely things at a wedding reception and one should. But it also occurs to me that whether one is called to the married life, single life or the clergy that really being a Christian can be a hard task, especially when you come equipped with all of the weaknesses that I do.
Paul in today’s passage to the Romans speaks against “the flesh.” I certainly hope he doesn’t mean all fleshly desires as we understand them today, because we’re all in a lot of trouble then – certainly I am. But I think he means something more expansive than that – “the flesh” means something that stands in opposition to God. Flesh, as I think he means it, is the sometimes unspoken desire to elevate ourselves and our desires to God’s level. This passage from the first reading stopped me dead in my tracks: “The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace.” And when Jesus in the Gospel today recounts the parable of the fig tree that gets one more year to produce, I think He is saying pretty much the same thing. Live in opposition to God and you won’t have the spirit that is life and peace. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be human, because we all are. But it means understanding and sometimes wrestling with your humanity and not trying to equate it to God.
That’s sort of where I want to head with the toast, but if I put it in Biblical terms I may not reach everyone I want to reach. But in my car I regularly play a song by a very spiritual songwriter, Mary Chapin Carpenter. In her song Jubilee she sings:
We’re all like frail boats on the sea
She’s right. We are all like frail boats. Sometimes my daughter and her new husband may get bounced around by the ocean and that light goes out of sight for awhile. But then like a miracle, it reappears and shows us to the calmer water and then the shore. But to see it you have to open your eyes and maybe even reorient yourself a little.
I hope they take this to heart. I hope I can take it to heart.
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