Shuck and Jive

Monday, September 22, 2014

For My Daughters on Their Wedding Day

For My Daughters on Their Wedding Day
September 20, 2014
The Charles
Johnson City, Tennessee

Katy, since you were a little girl, you were the wild one.  You have been a fireball of energy and emotion, ready to laugh and ready to make others laugh.  Full of adventure.  Ready to go on the next one.   Always in the middle of the action.  You are my buddy.   You are full of surprises.

One of the biggest surprises was when you told us you were in love with Amber.   Those who know me know that I have been an advocate for gay rights since you were a little girl.   You were an advocate right along with me.

I never thought you would bring home another woman to marry.  

The truth is:  We couldn’t be more proud and happy.

For one reason, we like Amber a lot better than any of the guys you dated.

For another, you have challenged all labels, categories and stereotypes.  You are not defined by others.  You don’t fit the alphabet soup of LGBTIAQ and so on.   Let them all think whatever.  You are your own person.   You fell in love with Amber.   You fell in love with another beautiful human being.    

Love is what matters.

Today is your wedding day.  

Actually, it is your second wedding day.   Last Thanksgiving, we did this in Sunny’s Bar in Brooklyn, New York, to sign the official marriage license.   Your marriage is bona fide in the eyes of New York State, Sunny’s Bar, and Jesus.    I would have signed the marriage license here in Tennessee and we would have had this one wedding, if Tennessee were a marriage equality state.   But it isn’t.   So you get two weddings!   If people want to be prejudiced and weird, we’ll just double up on the fun!

But this is the big wedding that counts, with family and friends and all the fun things that all weddings should have like fairy maids.   It isn’t a wedding unless you have fairy maids, and princesses and princes.  A big gay wedding at The Charles.   I am glad you did this.   For yourselves, because you love each other, and we need to party on about that, but also for others.  

There is still a tendency to think that only heterosexual weddings are “real” or “count” or are worthy of celebration and recognition.   

Your wedding is as real, as spiritual, as beautiful and as God-blessed as any other including your mother’s and mine 31 years ago, or my parents’ wedding 66 years ago.    Your marriage is as real as love is real.  You are bound to each other as any two people can be.  

Not only do other straight people need to know that, but those who love unconventionally need to know that they count, and that their relationships count, and that their marriages count.   They need to know that happiness is possible.   On behalf of all who are witnessing these vows, thank you for being you, for being happy and for being out.

Now Amber.

As we all know, Beverly and I did not lose a daughter in this marriage.   We gained a daughter.   Katy could not have made a better choice of another human being  with whom to spend her life than you.   You also have a taste for adventure, a quirky sense of humor, and you have a big compassionate heart.  

You won my heart after Zach died.   You were there for us and for Katy.  You never left Katy’s side.  You were there through all the pain, sharing the tears, and being present in joy and in sorrow.  You were already fulfilling the vows that you soon will make.   I knew then that Katy had found her soul-mate.   On behalf of Beverly and I, “Welcome to our family.  Welcome to the Shucks!”

I am supposed to give some sort of blessing.  Here we go.

Amber and Katy,
In your life individually and as a married couple:

May you be attentive.

May you be attentive to each other…
To each other’s feelings…
To each other’s heart…
To each other’s dreams.

May your hearts be soft.

May your heart soften so you don’t take a harsh word personally…
May your heart soften so you can absorb each other’s pain and grief…
May your heart soften so your laughter can flow freely and loudly.

May you recognize divinity.

May you recognize the Divine heart of your relationship.
May you recognize God in each other.
May you recognize God in those you serve.
May you recognize God in the joy and in the sorrow of life.

May you be brave.

May you be brave in all adversity.
May you be brave in the midst of your fears.
May courage light your path.
May your courage be a beacon of hope for others.

May you be strengthened by your faith.

A faith that trusts in the mystery of life...
A faith that empowers you to live out your convictions…
A faith that never, never, never gives up, but endures all things.

May you travel lightly.

May your steps be light on Earth.
May your touch of compassion be light with others.
May your hearts be light so you may lift each other.

May you always know that you are held, loved, and blessed
by all that is beautiful and good. 
May your marriage be a journey through the enchanted forest.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

If the Church Were Christian

We have just begun If the Church Were Christian:  Rediscovering the Values of Jesus by Philip Gulley in our Thursday study group.  Since that book he has written, The Evolution of Faith:  How God is Creating a Better Christianity.   Here is a presentation about that second book that he gave at Earlham School of Religion in 2012.  

I like him.  I especially like this:
"…Christianity is less a codified doctrine or creed and more an approach to life that emphasizes grace, is always on the side of human dignity, is always devoted to our spiritual growth and moral evolution, and is always committed to the ongoing search for truth, even if that search leads us away from institutional Christianity."  If the Church Were Christian, p. 8.
There is nothing in that above statement that has to do explicitly with the religion of Christianity.  Nonetheless, the above statement seems to embody the values of Christianity when emptied of its dogma.   Christianity has poured itself out into the values of humanism.   I for one embrace that.   I have little concern or care about the doctrines of Christianity except that those doctrines are true rather than false and promote human flourishing and care for Earth and other values that are beautiful and just.  I find that more and more people are curious about this kind of Christianity.  May their tribe increase.