2/14/99, Valentines Day
a Horse and Carriage
ost of you know the words to the old tune: Love and marriage, Love and marriage, they go together like a horse and carriage, this I tell you brother, you cant have one without the other... This popular song expresses the cultural values that most of us have grown up assuming to be true. The words of the secular tune capture much of the ideals concerning love and marriage that we have read from Gods word. We grew up with the notion that one day we would fall head over heels in love, hopefully, and that we would get married; because, You cant have one without the other.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote to Robert, How do I love thee, let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breath and height my soul can reach. And Roberts reply came back to his love, Come grow old with me; the best is yet to be.
Then there is the A Romantic Poem-- Redneck Style. Kudzu is green, my dogs name is Blue, And Im so lucky to have a sweet thang like you... Some men they buy chocolate, for Valentines Day... some men they get roses on that special day... But for this man, honey, these will not do. For you are too special. you sweet thang you. I got you a gift without taste or odor... Better than diamonds, its a new trollin motor.
Or, as the computer novice e-mailed for help from technical support:
Dear Tech Support,
Yogi Berra captured our inability to fathom marriage when upon Joe DiMaggios marriage to Marilyn Monroe he quipped: It sure beats rooming with Phil Rizzuto.
The scriptures we have heard this day capture the essence of love and marriage superior than any other source. The foundation of Christian culture is that if we, by Gods grace do fall in love, it is natural to marry, and to remain faithful to that spouse forever. This ideal is, of course, lived out in a world where people make mistakes and get on the wrong road sometimes. Forgiveness and new life means that life can get back on the straight and narrow, and that spiritual, and memory, healing is available through the power of the Holy Spirit. Even God cannot undo the past, but He can forgive the past and make the future new.
None of this implies that the unmarried life is an inferior state of being. There are many expressions of love. Valentines Day has come to incorporate them all. Card companies sell specialty messages for family and friends, and even cats. I was going to get Ginger a card, but she can only read off the computer screen.
The main thing we need to remember about love is that it is a gift of God. True love is a byproduct of loving Him. When we first love, and realize that we are loved, by God; then all other loves become deeper in the heart.
It was by the prevenient grace of God that I was led to finally give my heart to Him on the day after Valentines Day 1966. My love for life and all that it contained ascended to an unbelievable height. It was not by accident that I soon saw my Marilyn walking into our college chapel, and fell in love at first sight. The most dazzling thing about this greatest time in my life was that she also fell in love with me. I felt divine involvement in the process, just as when the Infinite God had captured my heart in love. All of life since has been according to Gods timetable. We completed our education together, then along came Lyn and Candi in baby carriages. We have served together thirty years in United Methodist Churches. Our life together has been one life, not two. And God has never failed us!
Valentines Day is always special for us even though it is not just a Christian holy day. It calls all people to remember the significance of love in our lives. It calls all people to consider grace, and the author of grace and love. Who could receive a special Valentine Card without feeling something of the presence of the hidden God? Who would be able to have an open heart to love and a closed heart to the one who loves us unconditionally?
An elderly homeless man came into my life just a couple weeks ago. I could see many years of deep grime and sin on his face, but there was a bit of a twinkle in his eyes in moments of lucidity. He desperately wanted something from me, and more so from God. He did not want a handout, or a hand up either; it was too late for that. He wanted me to know his name--- he wanted to write his name on a piece of paper. I did not think he could still write after years of drug and alcohol abuse, and self inflicted physical abuse, but I was able to make out most of the words: His name was barely legible, he had once known joy, he had suffered from electric shock treatment, and most of all he had once been married to a lovely lady. That was all, that was his life. I asked him why he wanted his name written down, just before he disappeared, and he said, Sometimes people die!
Would we not all list our love as the crowning point of our lives?
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor