I officiated the wedding of my brother (Alex) and my now brother-in-law (Alexander) earlier this month. These are the words I preached about what their union could be like.
Much to my chagrin, today (like each day before it) is not about me. Today is about a God who has blessed two giant families with two wonderful men named Alex. And as our main man Ecclesiastes has just proclaimed, two Alexes are better than one Alex.
And Hafiz, who, in the 14th century, wrote the poem that Aunt Jackie read, knew that your union could be like this.
Alex and Alexander, you chose this poem, I believe, because of its extraordinariness and ordinariness. In the poem, Hafiz explains, “You felt cold, so I…” and “A hunger comes into your body, so I…” and “You ask for a few words of comfort and guidance, so I…” Hafiz responds to the needs of his partner, as you are promising to do. Here, you have recognized that this wonderful celebration (while the end of a year of planning and anticipating) is in fact the beginning of a lifetime of regular old togetherness. You will go through the ordinary and extraordinary experiences of life, now, together. You will make ordinary experiences into extraordinary ones, by your togetherness.
The Ecclesiastes reading dealt in twos—two Alexes are better than one Alex. If one falls, the other catches. If one is cold, the other warms. If one feels weak, the other strengthens. But then the last line suddenly mentions that a threefold cord is not quickly broken. It’s like, thanks for the advice, Eagle Scout, but what does that have to do with anything? It turns out that the relevant information in this passage is not just that two Alexes are better than one Alex, but that there’s even a third ply at play. Congratulations, y’all—it’s you.
Earlier in this very ceremony, you, the third ply, agreed to “support and care for them, sustain and pray for them, give thanks with them, honor the bonds of their promise, and affirm the love of God reflected in their life together.” You promised that. Thank you.
We’re gathered here today as people of a variety of faiths, cultures, and political persuasions. And we’re gathered here today because Alex and Alexander are our beloved brothers, sons, cousins, nephews, friends, colleagues, classmates, comrades. We’re gathered here because we believe—or are coming to believe—that this marriage is about love and commitment and joy, and that this union does nothing to threaten anyone. The only thing this marriage threatens to do is celebrate in the midst of those who would tear it down.
Because while we—all of us present today and all those who will be present later this month in Sterling Heights—are that threefold cord, we find the strength to be so because God, too, is with us.
For me as a Christian, the most important words I ever preach are, of course, the greatest commandment Jesus ever preached—love one another. That’s what we’re here to do today. We’re not here to do anything if not to celebrate love and multiply love. This is radical and this is exponential.
Like you promised, when you support and care for Alex and Alexander in the coming years—as you have always done—that will radiate. When you pray for them—as you have always done—that will radiate. When you give thanks with them—as you have always done—that will radiate. When you honor the bonds of their promise, and uphold yours, that will radiate. When you affirm that love of God reflected in their life together—the love of God will radiate.
When I look at your faces, Alex and Alex, my dear ones, the love of God radiates.
Thanks be to God! Amen!