They’re married! Jessy Hamilton and Adam Steinke are now bound together in Holy Matrimony. The grooms wore matching red masks, a sign of the times in which we live. It was not the celebration they had originally planned, but the joyful Spirit was palpable in the church with Adam and Jessy and their friends Stuart and Sydney, who served as witnesses. And it was felt by the wider community of family and friends who participated through the miracle of Facebook Live. It was a joy and a privilege to be able to celebrate this happy occasion, and to be in the church with a congregation again, even if it was only four people. We wish them a long and happy live together.
As I prepared for the wedding this morning, I realized that it was five years and a day from the Supreme Court ruling that made it possible. I was in Salt Lake City at the Episcopal Church’s General Convention when the ruling legalizing same-sex marriages across the country was announced. For those of us who live in a part of the country that has never willingly expanded civil rights to any marginalized group it was an especially sweet moment. It came to a country that needed something to celebrate as we still reeled from the tragedy of the massacre at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, where a white supremacist killed nine black people gathered at the church for Bible study.
Here is what I wrote to the congregation from Salt Lake City:
“Let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new.”
These words are from one of my favorite prayers in our prayer book. We are certainly seeing them come to life this week. In last Sunday’s sermon I shared my deep feelings of despair and hopelessness in the wake of the Charleston massacre, feelings that I know were shared by many of you. That sermon was really a pep talk to myself, a reminder that we must not give in to the evil we deplore, a reminder that even in our darkest days God is with us, a reminder that we must continue to do the good we can do, even when it feels like we are throwing pebbles at a giant.
I could never have predicted on that day the events of this week, events which show the truth of the words of this prayer.
This week we have seen the Confederate flag, a symbol of hatred and racism and the worst evil of this country, being brought down in South Carolina, a sign that black lives matter.
This week we have seen the Supreme Court uphold the Affordable Care Act, making health insurance available to millions of people, a sign that poor lives matter.
This morning we have seen the Supreme Court decree that same-sex marriage is legal all across our nation, a sign that gay lives matter.
Things which had been cast down are being raised up, indeed.
I deeply believe that all of this is the work of the Spirit, God’s resounding word that the evil of Charleston, the evil of racism and injustice is not the final word. And we rejoice.
As we rejoice, we must remember there is still work to be done. But we face the work with renewed hope and vigor, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit. Alleluia. alleluia! Thanks be to God!
Five years later there is still work to be done, as has been sadly evident in the past weeks. But it’s important not to overlook the moments of love and hope, the moments when good triumphs, the moments like this morning’s marriage of Adam and Jessy.
Thanks be to God!