Close friends celebrated 40 years of married life on Sunday. We shared in a delightful extended lunch of reminiscing among true and trusted friends who had known the couple over decades. My wife and I were the ‘newest’ friends, having known them a mere two decades!
In the morning I had preached on the set Bible readings (the 4th Sunday of Easter, Year B, from the Lectionary). The biblical theme was not difficult to identify: The Divine Shepherd (Psalm 23), ‘I am the good shepherd’ (John 10:11-18), deeds done in the name of the Resurrected One (Acts 4:5-12) and the character of Christian love (1 John 3:16-24).
We know the identity of the Shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. We know his presence in green pastures and in valleys of death. But to what goal is the Shepherd leading us?
The latter reading, John’s epistle, is an extended meditation on love, a prolonged outburst of praise to God, intertwining God’s self-giving love in Christ, our obedience to Christ’s call to love of God and neighbour, and to live our life ‘in Christ’.
And the connection between the Sunday sermon and the Wedding celebration? The connection is the character of Christian love. Christ’s way, the way of self-giving love is for every one of us, in all of life, in all of the 40 years of married life.
A passer-by commented upon hearing of the anniversary, “Forty years, doesn’t happen much today.” But it was happening, and in God’s grace we also by following the example of the One who laid down his life, obeying his commandments and abiding in Christ, will nurture life giving relationships of love.
And, thanks, Russell and Sue. May God bless you with many more years of life and love.