The following piece was penned for the local newspaper, but as a dedicated recycler....
"Love is patient
love is kind
Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud
Love is not rude, it is not self-seeking
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
It always protects, always trusts
always hopes, always perseveres."
It’s the height of the wedding season. In line with national trends, we’re doing more weddings this year at St. James than last year, which in turn was busier than the year before. More often than not, the couple choose these famous words as one of the readings. Originally written by St. Paul 2000 years ago to a feuding church in Corinth, they’ve stood the test of time as a vivid picture of love in action.
Standing in front of the newly married Mr and Mrs, I ask them to take that reading, and cross out the word ‘love’. Then write in their own first name. David is patient (#fail) David is kind (sometimes), David does not envy … I’ll stop there. You can tell a lot about the character of the bride and groom from the amount of laughter coming from their guests at each line!
The words from Corinthians act as a plumb-line, a standard that we can measure ourselves against, because love can grow, or it can decay. One trend that really encourages me is the number of couples doing marriage preparation with us. Not preparation for the event, but for married life after it. How to talk, how to forgive, how to resolve conflict, agreeing your goals and values, working out a pattern of time together and apart.
All the couples who do marriage prep find it hugely helpful. Often the men need dragging along to the first session, but by week 3 everyone is telling their workmates about it. Having time to take stock, to learn, to invest in each other, is the best time a couple can spend before their wedding day.
It really doesn’t matter how much you spend in cash on the celebrations, its what you spend on each other in time, attention and love that makes the difference. Marriages might be made in heaven, but the couple pick up the maintenance contract.