Being and becoming married

February 1, 2013

Louisville

Q. What is the rising-to-life of the new self?
A.
Wholehearted joy in God through Christ and a love and delight to live according to the will of God by doing every kind of good work.
-from Q/A 90 of the proposed new translation of the Heidelberg Catechism

Every wedding anniversary marks a sacred time for my wife Grace and me to ask each other the separate but related questions, “How are you doing, how are we doing, and what is God doing?” These are diagnostic questions that prompt reflection and intentional action on our relationship as well as an opportunity to delight in the God who forged—and continues to sustain— the love which we share. Yet this annual ritual is enacted not just once a year but every night whenever Grace and I ask each other variations of those questions, no matter the time zone in which I find myself. This practice comes out of the recognition that being married is not a once-upon-a-time occurrence on one’s wedding day, but a daily and nightly decision to live into the promise.

We will soon enter the annual season of Lent, a sacred time to recalibrate faith and to renew our shared calling and identity from whence it came: Bethlehem’s manger, the Sea of Galilee, Nazareth’s hills, Jerusalem’s gates, Gethsemane’s garden, Pilate’s seat, Calvary’s cross, the empty tomb, and the upper room. It’s an annual journey to re-anchor faith, hope, and love in the triune God revealed in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, attested by Scripture, in Word and Sacrament, in the gathered community of the church, and in the sent community of the church.

Yet we know this annual journey is not confined to seven weeks of fasting and feasting; the journey is a daily and nightly occurrence. Or it should be if it isn’t already. Our call to delight in God, to serve Christ—or what the catechism describes as “wholehearted joy,” “a love and delight” to live for God, to serve in Christ’s name—is not a Sunday-only activity nor a Lent-only observance. Like marriage, it is a daily and nightly commitment to be gathered by God and to be sent by God on a continual basis. Lutheran theologian Miroslav Volf  describes this as adoration and action. This is the Sunday through Saturday life: being and becoming married all over again.

Following Lent, Vice Moderator Tom Trinidad and I will convene a Moderator’s Colloquium on Ecclesiology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary on April 23–25, to catalyze conversations around being Christ’s gathered-sent community. Join us live or virtually through the Web; more information will follow in the coming weeks.

Both that gathering—and this reflection—seek to ask, “So how are you doing, how are we doing, and what is God doing?”

  1. Thank you, Mr. Moderator, for this thoughtful reminder to approach faith (& marriage!) as a continual commitment and journey. I was confused a bit by the description of Volf as a "Lutheran theologian." While he has left the PC(USA) and has written on Luther, I believe he is currently a member of the Episcopal Church (USA), and his studies are so broad that perhaps "Protestant theologian" is more accurate, though unspecific.

    by David C Smith

    February 5, 2013

  2. Churches and members should be challenged to ask these three questions in a conversation during Lent. I'll certainly challemge my church. Thanks be to God.

    by Bob Wilson

    February 1, 2013

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