Families are about… Weddings, Anniversaries and Birthdays.
Note: I am writing these thoughts as I am in the hills of southern California having officiated at the wedding of two wonderful young men. First, let me share a bit of history leading up to this celebration…
Jay and Danny have been in a committed relationship for 20 years... (their “anniversary” was also celebrated this week). Like other couples who could not bear children they longed to establish a family. It would be impossible to sum up in a paragraph the hopes and heartaches, conversations and prayers that led to the birth of their twin son’s Kai and Jayden (whose second birthdays we celebrated last night).
Medical science combined with gracious generosity (and no small sacrifice) provided twin eggs that were soon living extensions of both men. A surrogate carried the babies to full term and the two families celebrated surrounded by communities of support in California and West Michigan. Their journey inspired the creation of a service helping others, https://www.samelovesurrogacy.com
As people of faith they strongly desired that the babies be baptized in the church where Jay grew up learning of a God that loved and accepted everyone. They both desired that their sons would come to understand, in a world which too often points out our differences, how we are all God’s children. Sadly, that denomination would not give them the sacrament of baptism.
The Session (the local governing body) of the Spring Lake Presbyterian Church in West Michigan welcomed their request to bring the children forward on a Sunday almost two years ago. The church was filled with family and friends and... I am smiling as I recall stating from the pulpit, “One of the greatest gifts in the church is bringing our children for baptism. Would the parents please bring their children forward at this time.” I am certain that there where a few people in the pews who looked under their spectacles and thought, “I see the uncles. Where is Mom and Dad?” Then… spontaneously the church broke into a gracious, welcoming applause. It was a beautiful moment. I have a framed photograph in my office of me grinning, holding a baby in each arm.
The Presbyterian church has ruled that its clergy could officiate at same gender weddings when the law allowed. Following the Supreme Court ruling in June of last year I officiated at my first “Gay” (and joyful) wedding in a beautiful garden service surrounded by families and friends. Jay and Danny are the Son and Son-in-law of that amazing couple.
In Luke's gospel Jesus leaves us with the admonition that his followers are to reflect his love throughout the whole world. Jesus himself was judged and criticized by some of the leaders of his faith community (many of whom called out for his death). But he was accepted and worshipped by those whose hearts were open to a deeper understanding of God’s love for us all. In these divisive times I pray that the church might be an instrument of unity. It begins with each of us, every day.