A homily offered at the wedding of David Shumate and Andy Ragland.
Andy and David, I thank you for the honor of being present with you at this wonderful and important moment. You shared some of your journey with me that led you here, and I thank God for your witness, your commitment to each other, and your commitment to moving our church and society to a place of marriage equality for all, for an altar available to all.
In addition, you taught me about one of my favorite Bible passages that Sue Laurie just read: "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." Your story, as you shared, touched my heart with the ways you have borne many challenges, believed in yourselves in each other, hoped for this moment, and endured for many years.
First, your shared with me how God gave you direction! It takes courage to say that God has directed you to each other and to stay together- as you have for 26 years! Andy, I so appreciated how you even heard a more particular message from the divine- one that had two parts: God said you would find love; and, second, that it will be rough at times. And indeed it was, and you two have endured.
Second, many years ago you went to the county and even applied for a marriage license- knowing at the same time what the answer would be. When refused, you took it to court and persisted until the judges voted 3-2 against you! I give thanks to God for your persistence and tenacity.
Lastly, you knew that you needed and wanted a community of support. So you have worked for many years to help your congregation- Asbury UMC- to become a Reconciling Church and, even more important, help that church live out what it meant to be reconciling! Yes, love does hope for all things and binds us together in the Body of Christ.
Through this opportunity, you have helped enrich my life and ministry. And you have enriched the lives of all of us gathered here.
Thank you for your faithfulnees, for helping me and all of us to come to know more truly the love of God.
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