opinion & features
When love finds a way
Jayne and Laurie came to our church about a year ago. Both are deeply spiritual women who have shared an intimate relationship with God for most of their adult lives. They are gay. And, fortunately, they have always known within themselves that God loves them, heart and soul, just as they have been created.
One day, the phone rang in my office. I lifted my head from the mountain of paper that always seems to pile up on a minister’s desk and answered. It was Jayne, asking if I would come to dinner. Without a moment of hesitation, I accepted the invitation. After all, who would think to pass up on a home-cooked meal when most of my dinners come out of a box? The food, by the way, was excellent and provided a welcome preparation for the wonderful invitation that followed. With eyes brimming and voices choking, Jayne and Laurie told me that they wanted to be married. And, most wonderful of all, they wanted me to officiate at the wedding. It was one of those “God moments” that are absolutely indescribable in the life of a minister.
It was to be a small wedding, in their backyard, in a cathedral of flowers and fountains, with family and friends there to offer witness and support. In the days that followed, Jayne, Laurie and I spent countless hours preparing for their wedding ceremony. They shaped and moulded a service that was uniquely their own, filled with promises of love, commitment, faithfulness and hope for their shared future. The centrepiece of the whole affair was a special blown-glass vase in which we created a beautiful rainbow sand sculpture, with layers of multi-coloured sand poured into the vase by Laurie and Jayne and by selected family members and friends. Each layer was a profound statement of love. I poured the first layer, white sand, representing God, the foundation of their married life. And I poured the last layer, white sand, spilling out over the confines of the vase, again representing God and God’s unconditional love that cannot be contained as it spills out over the world.
At the close of the ceremony, I offered Jayne and Laurie a blessing from God and joyfully declared, “I now pronounce you … spouses to one another and partners in life!” There was a hushed moment of silence, as if God was holding us in that sacred moment, and then the whole backyard erupted in cheers, hand clapping, hugging and crying. In a world filled with much that is violent and turbulent, love had found a way to bring two women to this moment - a moment of profound grace and joy.
As I bask in the glow of this remarkable experience, I know that many are seeking to legislate against such love. And even though the United Church has declared its full support for same-gender marriages, there are individual congregations that are wrestling with this very issue, refusing to allow their ministers to officiate at such weddings. There are also a number of ministers in the United Church who refuse to officiate at such services. While I can appreciate such struggling, I cannot help but regret the number of gay and lesbian folk who have been deeply wounded by the church’s rejection of them and their love for one another. My deep prayer is that we, as a church that is committed to love and justice, will take to heart the words of the old Shaker song:
When true simplicity is gained,
to bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed
to turn, to turn will be our delight
‘til by turning, turning, we come round right!
– Rev. Linda C. Hunter is the minister of Wild Rose United Church in Calgary.