Living till we look like God

A homily for the marriage of Kristen Read and Peter Walker on April 13, 2012.  The Gospel reading is John 15:9-12 .

A few years ago, a study was conducted.  In the study, people were presented a random array of photographs of faces, with the backgrounds blacked out, and were asked to match the men with the women who most closely resembled them. Two dozen of the photographs were of couples when first married; another two dozen were of the same couples 25 years later, most taken around the time of their silver wedding anniversary.  Guess what the findings were?

Couples who originally bore no particular resemblance to each other when first married had, after 25 years of marriage, come to resemble each other.

The psychologist who did the study suggests a number of reasons for the resemblance:  similar diet over time, similar environment and habits.  But also, he suggests that over time, couples begin unconsciously to mimic one another’s expressions.  The same doctor was asked to comment on whether people really might also come to resemble their pets.  He had no comment.

Whether that study was truly scientific or not, we all know couples who actually grow to look a little like each other.  They might dress in the same style.  They might laugh at the same things.  They might roll their eyes when irritated.  This resemblance bears witness to the idea that we grow not individually, but together. 

The Gospel this afternoon uses an old-fashioned word to talk about this:  “Abide” in my love, Jesus says.  To abide is to wait for, to endure without yielding, to bear patiently, to be stable.  “To keep calm and carry on” is to abide.  To affirm some faith in a God of creation in the midst of a world that sometimes seems to fall every more deeply chaos is to abide.  To believe in the power of resurrection, to model one’s life after that of Christ, and to pledge one’s love to another human being:  these things— THIS is to abide.  It is to grow together, in God’s grace. 

In just a few minutes Lindsay will sing a setting of an e.e. cummings poem. 

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

                                              i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Peter and Kristen, I pray that you’ll carry one another’s heart in your own heart so long that you’ll look like each other, that your love look like the love of Christ for the world; and that through it all, you will abide in the eternal love of God. 


May God bless you and your families richly, this day and always.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

About John F. Beddingfield

Rector of The Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal) in New York City on East 88th Street between 1st Ave and 2nd Ave.
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