I journey with many people who stand within the seasons of their lives to speak publicly words of promise. At SouthWest there are four weddings within four weeks. (September 22, Greta Evaristo and Jean-David Mukuna, Lindsay Wight and Alexandre Filip; and on October 13 Lisette Carrier and William Parent, Catrina Mendicino and Philippe Perron).
In each celebration there were personalised vows expressing the life journey that brought the couple to a ceremony of commitment, family, and a clear sounding ‘till death do us part’ love.
In a funeral last week for one of God’s saints, what we often call a celebration of life, words of remembrance were passionately spoken. Through tears and stories, hymns and prayers the resonance of love vibrated deeply. That ‘till death do us part’ love was tangible and powerful. It reminded me of a phrase from Song of Songs, ‘Love is as powerful as death’. (8: 6b-7).
As parents prepare for upcoming baptisms at both Emmanuel and SouthWest we talk together about a love for their child that draws from deep within parental love. It is rooted in promise and unconditional love.
Our promises model how God has loved us and shown us the depth and breadth of relationship rooted in faith and covenant. Hear this wonderful affirmation of God’s promise in Isaiah (43: 1b-5a):
I have called you by name - you are mine.
When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you...
When you pass through fire, you will not be burnt...
You are precious to me, I love you...
Do not be afraid, I am with you.
When I hear parents, godparents, family and congregation speaking words of commitment at a child’s baptism, when couples stand before each other and promise love and fidelity, when family and friends speak of a loved one now deceased I feel the energy and passion of words that speak a deep truth: it is the resonance of love’s promises that hold us throughout our lives.
Promises root us every day of our lives, they hold us precious, they remind us that we are not alone. They are part of the rituals that mark the seasons of life with care, community and layers of affection that are the safety net and glue for each generation.
I remember a hymn of my youth with these words:
Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life.
Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life.
It is how I hear and celebrate the sustaining promises of our lives and relationships:
Words of life, ‘till death do us part’.