In nomine Jesu!

I’ve been preparing this day for Nicholas and Jared ever since a blustery March Tuesday morning, eight years, three months and 22 days. I was in the sacristy that morning. I had just finished serving at our Breakfast program and in was my habit in those days was to retire to the sacristy immediately to clean up from the previous Sunday, make preparations for the next Sunday; get my act together; and honestly, to hide for at least 30 minutes for anyone who wanted anything. On that morning, however, at about 8:15, my cell phone rang. It was Jared. Did I have time right then to come to his apartment to talk? It all sounded very ominous. So I put on my coat, scarf and gloves and trudged over to Jared’s apartment on East 52nd Street, directly above an animal hospital, right next to the Norwegian Seafarer’s Church and a block from where Carole and I still live. He buzzed me in. I climbed the stairs and, just as I prepared to knock, Jared yanked open the door and ecstatically exclaimed: “I’ve found the love of my life!” You all know how stoic and unemotional I tend to be, and at that moment I did exactly what you’d expect: I burst into tears of joy. And even though he is equally
unemotional, Jared did too. After many tears and some time we finally calmed down; and then he he remembered to invite me in, take off my coat and sit down. Then over coffee and some kind of pastry — Swedish I think — Jared proceeded to tell me all about Nick and why he was in love with him in the first place. The date was March 11, 2008, about three weeks after you had begun dating.

I’ve thought of that conversation often, not just to prepare for this homily, but as a kind of imaginary doorway into the relationship between God and God’s people; an imaginary doorway I learned over the years from my reading of the Book of the prophets Isaiah. As evidenced by the first reading today, these prophets see the relationship between God and God’s people in decidedly marital, familial terms. The prophets’ imagination coupled and Jared’s conversation with me on that cold March morning, has managed to fuel my imagination about similar ongoing conversations among the three persons of the Holy Trinity. I invite you to imagine those divine conversations with me.

Imagine, for example, the conversation among the persons of the Holy Trinity on the morning
after they found Abram and Sarai and all their servants in Ur of the Chaldees. Can you picture it? The Word yet-to-be-made flesh tearfully embracing the Father and the Spirit all the while exclaiming, “I’ve found the love of my life!” and then going on-and-on about why God loved them in the first place.

Or consider this: Their marvelous midday desert meal hosted by Abram with Sarai laughing at the funniest of joke: her pregnancy at 90+ years and the subsequent birth of “laughing boy,” her son Isaac. “I’ve found the love of my life!” I imagine them all munching away, Holy Spirit chortling and the other persons of the Trinity weeping with delight. “I’ve found the love of my life!” they repeated and spent the afternoon telling each other why they fell in love in the first place.

How about another divine conversation, when they first heard Miriam singing and saw the
newly freed children of Israel dance on the freedom side of the sea? “I’ve found the love of my life!” they must have shouted over the sound of the waters, joining the dance and singing that song in three-part harmony.

Or, when God first noticed widowed Ruth in
Moab, clinging to her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, refusing to let her go; or later, Ruth’s great-grandson David delighting in his love for Jonathan, King Saul’s son? In my imagination I can hear the Word not-yet-made-flesh exulting, “I’ve found the love of my life!” as the others joining in joyous Te Deums sung among, and obvious to, themselves.

But my favorite of the holy, imagined conversations is that relaxed and holy cocktail hour late in the evening on the Pentecost day, as Always Three-Ever One clinked their glasses to toast the Church, their own creation, singing “Tov,Tov, Tov” about us, the love of their life. At every baptism; at every Eucharist; this godly giddiness is described so incredibly infectious angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven are compelled to shout together in unitate spiritui sancti, “I’ve found the love of my life!”

You see, “I’ve found the love of my life” is not just Jared’s words to me in a remembered conversation on a blustery winter morning. “I’ve found the love of my life!” is God’s Word and God’s ongoing conversation about us and every child of earth. It is the Gospel! A conversation
that ever has been and ever more shall be until the great and promised day when the new Jerusalem, creatively shaped by God, comes down from heaven adorned for the great and glorious marriage feast that will never end. Isaiah puts it simple: “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her.”

“I’ve found the love of my life,” is God’s Word and God’s ongoing, continual conversation about us and the whole creation; and every time God says these words, God seals them with a covenant — God’s Promise to never let us be out of love alone — which is why the Church affirms every couple’s marriage as a tangible, visible sign of the love God has; the Promise God makes; and the Promise God keeps with us forever. “I’ve found the love of my life!”

Remember, Nicholas and Jared, that when God says these words, continually and always, God is always talking about you. Don’t ever just eavesdrop on that conversation in Church, join it, with them and each other, by finding times and means to remind each other why you fell in love in the first place. “I’ve found the love of my life!”
A word is in order, to Jared and Nicholas, to our Bishop and to all who have wrestled with the demons that possessed us and the Church and the state; all who have labored to tear down barriers so that the state can recognize and the Church can celebrate the fullness of their committed love. Make no mistake! In this endeavor, we have been engaged in Christ’s mission! So many have been sacrificed! So much has been given! So much has been accomplished! And there remains so much ye to do. But remember what Jesus says about those who have sacrificed and also about me and you: “Rejoice, not that the demons obey you, but that your name is written in heaven!

Rejoice with Nicholas and Jared! Celebrate their life together! Join them in that ongoing, holy, conversation that the Always Three, Ever-One is having about you, about me, about us, and about the Church, the city, and the world God loves. Listen to — and believe — what God keeps on saying about Jared and Nicholas, about all the saints, and you: “I’ve found the love of my life” per omnia saecula saeculorum, forever and ever. Amen. This is the Gospel of the Lord!
Amandus J. Derr
Saint Peter’s Church
in the City of New York

Isaiah 66: 10-14; Psalm 66:1-9;
Saint Luke 10: 1-11, 16-20