On 27 October 2007 at 4:30 pm, Katherine and I were united by Holy Mother Church in the Mystery of Matrimony.
Keep in mind, though, that we have a certificate of marriage from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fairmont, MN, and one from Martin County, MN dated 23 June 1968.
Some, of course, wonder at this. Some, I think are a bit angry: after all, after nearly 40 years, why in the world do such a thing? How dare your "new church" not recognize what has been!
Keep in mind, though, that to be married civilly is not to be married in the Church. And to be married in most churches is not to receive a Mystery, a Sacrament at all.
We were eager to receive this Gift of the Church. And there was indeed blessing and warmth and relief -- a truly joyous and God blessed time!
As a Lutheran pastor, I performed hundreds of weddings over three plus decades. They all followed the same basic order, involved the same choices of this and that, had the same basic vows exchanged. If you've been to a Lutheran wedding, you know what I mean. And most of them lasted about 20 minutes; most followed a number of weeks of preparation.
However, marriage in Orthodoxy is a Mystery, a Sacrament. Permission must be had from Diocesan offices in advance. There certainly may be instruction and conversation between priest and bridal couple. But the Service itself remains essentially the same. It consists of Betrothal and Crowning. It is explicitly Trinitarian and filled with prayer and readings. And it is something we receive, a gift, a blessing that in its very act gives meaning to St. Paul's words in Ephesians 5! It looks to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit for every good thing and every blessing.
In my last decades as a Lutheran and Lutheran pastor, I increasingly directed couples to the rite of marriage spelled out in the rites of the church -- although more often than not in Lutheran (and protestant) churches, marriage services were crafted with all kinds of selections, soloists and other requests.
It was truly a blessing and joy to see that such is not the case in Orthodoxy: we received what Holy Mother Church gives! We were recipients of the fullness of the Father's blessings for us. The Word and Prayer, the incense and candles, the crowning all bestowed on us the blessing of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Now, this is certainly not a theological treatise. A reflection, perhaps.
But again, I am overwhelmed by the blessings of the Church. I thought I knew a lot, but I'm continually realizing how little I knew.
And so Katherine and I rejoice in the presence of Christ, and in the blessing of the Holy Trinity in our marriage. And we give thanks to God for our Godparents and all the others who surprised us with cards and greetings.
It is good to be Home.
Glory to God in all things!