Monday, November 21, 2011
When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he cured them there. Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?" He answered, "Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." They said to him, "Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?" He said to them, "It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery. His disciples said to him, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry." But he said to them, "Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can." Matthew 19:1-12
As I was in the check out line at the grocery store, the woman behind me pushed me out of the way so she could get one gossip rag or another. All of the tattlers had headlines about famous couples breaking up, the 72 day marriage after the world's most elaborate wedding,or the cougar couple destined for failure. We are fascinated with famous failure, and we make a big deal over things like this. What is never reported on are the people who are faithful over long periods of time, who honor their vows and love and cherish their mate. We revel in floundering and ignore the noble, who have done incredibly hard work to love and renew love over decades.
Jesus is facing Jerusalem and is assaulted with questions about the marriage laws. It seems in every generation, we refashion marriage and divorce to suit the needs of the most affluent and famous. They want him to refashion the laws to make the religious leaders happy. Jesus' reply to them is for them to do the hard work of being faithful. Faithfulness in all things. And we are reminded today that we are invited to looks at the vows we make and to take them seriously, for we make these vows with God as well as with our partner, our church, and with the people. As a bishop I try to regularly read the vows I made in order to renew and refresh the solemn commitments I made almost ten years ago. No vows are easy to uphold, and there are circumstances where we are unable to continue, in a damaging and violent relationships, but God has promised to honor and bless us in these solemn relationships.
Today I want to give thanks for all those who I have committed myself to -to Christ in baptism, to my husband in marriage, to the church as first, deacon and priest and now bishop. May we all give thanks for those who we are blessed to share our lives with, and ask God to bless us and the people we care for. May our faithfulness be a blessing to those around us and a sign of God presence with us, for we can do nothing well without God's continued guidance and blessing.