I am going to start by asking you some simple questions – yes or no kind of questions. I don’t mean to put pressure on you but if you get the answers wrong you’ll ruin my sermon and probably your wedding too. Don’t worry, it’ll be easy. Yes or no.
Nano, do you love Sarah? Do you want to marry her? Sarah, do you love Nano? Do you want to marry him?
Yes. That one word characterizes what this evening is about. Yes is the thread that runs through everything we will say and do. It is, I think, one of the best ways of describing and understanding what marriage is about. Yes is what constitutes marriage.
You all met for the first time around 1996, right? So you’ve known each other twenty-three years. It’s safe to say, then, that you’ve taken your time getting to this evening. Have you had enough time to fully consider what you are doing? You’re pretty sure about this evening and your yes to each other?
I suspect you both could tell a lot of stories about what’s happened between that first meeting and this evening – stories about people and relationships, opportunities taken and missed, choices that were made, joys and sorrows, successes and failures, discoveries and losses, certainties and doubts. Twenty-three years of life and experiences, some of that time as a couple but most of it not.
Here’s I want you to know. All those things, those previous twenty-three years, do not diminish or take away from the yes of tonight. Instead, they intensify and strengthen your yes. They make it all the more beautiful and meaningful.
They are the earth from which the flowers of your new life now appear. They are the vines that now blossom with the fragrance of love. They helped you to know that the time of singing has come. They tuned the ear of your heart to hear your beloved say, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” (Song of Solomon 2:10-13; 8:6-7)
Those experiences and years have brought you to this moment of yes. But it’s not only your yes to each other, it’s also God’s yes to you. Your yes to and choosing of each other arise out of God’s prior yes to and choosing of you. Your yes this evening is the echo of God’s eternal yes to us all.
I think that’s why we love weddings so much. It’s why we celebrate, smile, and laugh. It’s why we cry. It’s why we want to be here with you this evening. We come for the yes, yours and ours.
Throughout your life people have been loving and “yessing” you to this moment. Just a few minutes ago everyone here gave you their yes. “We will,” they said.
We come here to give you our “we will” – our love, prayers, and support in your yes to each other, and to be moved by your yes to remember and step more deeply into the yes of our own lives.
Yes. Let that one word be your only word. Let there be no why to your yes, to your love, to you marriage. And if someone asks or if you start to wonder why you love, why you say yes – do not try to explain it or count the ways. You can’t. It’s not possible.
Your yes, just like God’s, is not a bargain but an unconditional giving. It is not an investment in each other but a commitment to each other for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.
There is no because behind your yes, the declarations you have made, or the vows you are taking. They are not contingent on anything. They just are.
Your vows – to be husband and wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, to love and to cherish – and your declarations – to live together in marriage, to love, comfort, honor and keep, to forsake all others and be faithful – are your yes. Yes to each other, yes to life, yes to God.
Let that yes be always on the tip of your tongue. Nano, let your first word to Sarah always be yes. And Sarah, let your first word to Nano always be yes. Yes, yes. And always a double yes.
That yes, yes is not just a yes to the one standing next to you now and your life as it is in this moment. It is also a yes to whomever the one standing next to you may become. It is also a yes to come-what-may. It is a yes to your future, as individuals and as a couple.
The only condition for your yes is yes without condition. There is no merit in living or loving moderately. Risk it all. Hold nothing back.