“John & Katy” (July 30, 2016: Celebration and Blessing of the Marriage of Katherine M. Craven and John M. Campbell)

This sermon was preached at the Celebration and Blessing of the Marriage of Katherine McCrory Craven and John Mark Campbell on Saturday, July 30, 2016 at 11:00am at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Lafayette, Louisiana

Readings: Song of Solomon 2.10-13, 8.6-7; I John 4.7-16; John 15.9-12

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…If we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.”—I John 4.11-12[1]

In the Name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

November 7, 2015 was both a noteworthy and memorable day.  It was the evening of the annual Ascension Episcopal School Parent Teacher Organization Auction, the most prominent event (save Graduation) in the life of our school.  What made last year’s PTO Auction especially noteworthy was that it was also the evening of the annual Alabama-LSU football game, a fact acknowledged through the condition that if the PTO Auction was to occur on that specific evening, a television had to be on site for those (including yours truly) wishing to view the game.  But what also made it particularly memorable was when Katy Lee, one of Ascension’s well established faculty members, arrived at the auction with a brand new member of the faculty named John Campbell.  I, as well as several others, could not help taking particular notice of this and that their being together appeared to be more than just as friends.

Toward the latter part of the evening, as the Alabama Crimson Tide was defeating the LSU Tigers by a score of 30 to 16, Katy, John, and I were standing in front of the television, Katy and I pleased with the end result, with John, unfortunately, not so much.  While standing there together, Katy brings up the obvious, “I’m here with John.”  “Yes, I kind of noticed that,” I replied.  I could hear a bit of concern in her voice, probably from wondering what the school Priest and/or others were thinking about her going out with the new guy.  She was explaining to me how the two of them together came about, to which I replied, “As far I’m concerned, you two are reasonable adults.  If y’all feel that this is something y’all want to try out, then y’all should.  I don’t have a problem with it and don’t think anybody else will, either.”  And I was right; nobody else saw anything wrong with John and Katy being together.  Not only did our colleagues and students not see anything wrong with their relationship, but John and Katy wound up becoming THE “It” couple of Ascension.  Things obviously worked out, for here we all are, John and Katy’s family, friends, and Ascension colleagues, celebrating with them their soon-to-be new life together as husband and wife.

November 7, 2015 was John and Katy’s “Ascension debut” as a couple.  But God was laying the foundation for that day, this moment, and their future life together before then.  According to John, it was soon after the last academic year’s beginning that he heard Katy talking with some of our other Ascension colleagues about her personal theology, much of which matched his own theology.  It was hearing that conversation that made John think to himself, “I need to talk with her more.”  And from that initial thought, God began something with John and Katy that the rest of us could not yet see, but would be revealed to us in His good time.

During the days leading up to that noteworthy PTO auction, John and Katy came to know something more about each other that we at Ascension already knew about them individually, that they both possessed deeply caring natures.  And from the time of that PTO auction leading up to now, their caring natures brought forth an unconditional love for each other.  Through their unconditional love for each other, John and Katy have experienced God’s unconditional love for them in a most profound way.  In seeing them together, we can see God and His love abiding and perfected in them.  It is God’s unconditional love for John and Katy and their deep love for God and unconditional love for each other that will be their foundation until their separation by man’s mortal enemy, Death.

Ascension has played a large part in John and Katy’s relationship.  We have seen their love for each other throughout this last year become like “a seal upon their hearts, a mantle about their shoulders, and a crown upon their foreheads.”[2]  In having received support from us, their colleagues, students, and the larger Ascension family, John and Katy, as husband and wife, now have the privilege of witnessing to us what the Church professes about marriage: a signifier of the mystical union between Christ and His Church.  We heard earlier from Saint John’s first epistle,

The love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, so that we might live through Him…Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

God today calls John and Katy to be witnesses together of the Gospel: loving and being faithful to each other throughout the good and bad times, either as rich or poor spouses, just as Christ loves and is faithful to each one of us; and forgiving each other when they both hurt each other, just as Christ forgives all of us when we sin against Him.  To use the words of the Psalmist, this day, the day of John and Katy’s marriage, “is the Lord’s doing [and] it is marvelous in our eyes”[3] and we pray that in seeing their love for each other, we, their fellow Christian pilgrims, will come to better understand Christ’s unconditional love for us.

John and Katy, know how much we love you and are rejoicing with you this happy morning.  May God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord mercifully with His favor look upon you and fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace; that you may so live faithfully together in this life, that in the world to come you may have life everlasting.

In the Name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

[1] Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations contained herein are from the Revised Standard Version Bible, Catholic Edition, Copyright ã 1965, 1966 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

[2] “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage,” The Book of Common Prayer (1979), 430.

[3] Psalm 118.23

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