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The charge from Rev. Patricia Pearce to Chris and Beth
on the occasion of Chris and Beth's commitment ceremony

October 21, 2000

Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:1-16

Chris and Beth, Iím glad that the scripture reading you chose for your service today was the Beatitudes, because I think it is fitting to this occasion and Iíd like us to consider what that passage of scripture has to say about the covenant you are entering.

As you both know, through those words, Jesus was depicting an alternate reality from the one the people found themselves living in. It was an alternate reality in which the poor receive the reign of heaven, in which the mourning find comfort, the meek receive the whole world, the hungry are satisfied. It is not the reign of status quo; it is a very different reality that Jesus called the reign of God.

One doesnít have to think too hard to understand what that alternate reality, called the reign of God, has to do with the two of you as you join your lives together. By your vows today, you are creating a reality that is a challenge and an alternative to the dominant culture in which you find yourselves. You are committing yourselves to a relationship that will bring you the gifts of love and support and belonging even in the midst of a society that would deny you those things. You will be forging that alternate reality together, and it will have many challenges as well as many joys. So I charge you to remember two things that the Beatitudes teach us.

The first is that Godís alternate reality is grounded in blessing. It is not grounded in anger or hatred or revenge, but finds its full expression in blessing. Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the hungry. Blessed are those who mourn. The radical nature of Godís reality and Godís realm comes from that very fact, that those whom society refuses to bless are blessed. So let me say here and now, that you, Chris and Beth, are blessed.

You are blessed first of all by God, who is the Source of your life and your love and who will give you strength and courage and hope and joy. God will call you into a future you cannot yet see, but you need not be afraid because God will be with you as you journey on. The road will lead through times of sadness and struggle, just as it will also lead you through times of happiness and peace. Trust that God is present in that process ofjourneying and becoming. Trust that you are always blessed and cherished by God.

You are also blessed by each other and by the caring and love that you share and by the commitment you are making to one another to face together the challenges that life will present you. You will encourage one another to continue to grow into the unique and remarkable individuals God has created you to be. You will be by one anotherís side as you discern the future directions of your lives and your callings. You are blessed by each other.

Now, as you know, many people will not celebrate your relationship, and that is something you will have to confront time and again. But I would like you to look around for just a moment at these people who are gathered here with you today. Remember that we are blessing your relationship. When you encounter difficulties and prejudices, remember these faces. Remember these people who love you and support you and are with you on this journey. Remember the faces of these people who are by your side and blessing you and your relationship this day.

So that is the first thing I charge you to remember, that this alternate reality you are creating is rooted in blessing. Remember how you are blessed by the God who created you and is present in your relationship, blessed by each other, blessed by this community of family and friends.

The second thing I charge you to remember is that there is only one command in the Beatitudes, and that command is to rejoice and be glad. You see, people for the most part donít care much for alternate realities. They like what theyíre comfortable with, and because of your relationship you will challenge some peopleís comfort level and elicit their disapproval or even hostility. There is only one thing you are commanded to do when that happens. Go out dancing. Or partying. Or gather together in the company of friends to share a meal and laugh together. Celebrate your relationship. Rejoicing in the face of persecution is the ultimate subversive act, because it is the way you reclaim the truth that you are blessed and that you are not alone.

So remember these two things: count your blessings and never forget them. Hold them close to you like the treasure that they are. And celebrate. If you do these things, this alternate reality will take hold and flourish and become a blessing and a source of celebration for countless others you will meet as you journey together, and you will indeed be the light of the world. Thanks be to God!

Rev. Patricia Pearce
Tabernacle United Church
October 21, 2000

© 2000 Rev. Patricia Pearce

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