Reflections on a Long Marriage

  I was 28 years old when I delivered my first sermon at Northmount Baptist Church in Calgary, Alberta. (1981)

 It was called How Turkeys can Learn to Fly like Eagles.

 It held out the hope that if you were tired of living like a turkey that you could learn to fly like an eagle. 

 Thankfully nobody then asked me if I thought he or she was a turkey. 

 The Turkey to Eagles sermon set a positive tone. It was full of hope, optimism and enthusiasm.

 Months later, someone said that the word enthusiasm captured the spirit of Northmount Baptist Church.

 Indeed there was a wave of enthusiasm

 Wayne and Sylvia Horricks were already at the church, and they fully rode  that wave of enthusiasm. 

 I had the privilege then of baptizing Wayne and Sylvia.

 There were a number of us at that time who shared in a certain kind of feeling that I want to talk about today.

 It’s hard to describe. C.S. Lewis called it incommunicable.

 Yet however hard to describe, when that feeling is there, it is unmistakable  and makes all the difference in the world!

 Now the thing is, what happens when you have that shared feeling with someone and it’s tested?

 And that’s where a particular memory of Wayne comes up.

 Because though we shared that feeling, I began to preach through the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament, and Wayne, ever bold and blunt, told me he didn’t like it.

 It was, he said, "too negative!"

 For some reason!, he didn’t want to hear every week about wrath, judgment and punishment.

 And I think I recall that he didn’t want to come to church anymore. 

 Well we worked that through, and remained friends for 35 years.

 Sylvia shared with me that in her long marriage to Mr. Bold and Blunt that, there were times of tension, but that it always got worked through, and that, thinking back, she is flooded with only wonderfully positive memories of life with Wayne. 

 Any tensions experienced were simply part and parcel of moving towards deepening their love for each other.

 So I’d like to say a little about that feeling that brings people together and keeps them together.

 As I said, it’s hard to describe. (C.S. Lewis called it incommunicable.)

 But when it’s there, you know it! 

 It is unmistakable in its power and force.

 There was a Seinfeld episode where Kramer asked George Costanza if he had ever yearned.

 'George, have you ever yearned, like, really yearned?'

 And George sat stratching his head, 'yearning, no yearning.'

 'No, don’t think I’ve ever yearned.'

 'I’ve craved. I’ve craved. I’ve really craved.'

 That’s the difference between two levels of feeling.

 To crave has to do with something like craving for pizza, or for Tim Horton’s donuts.

 Or perhaps the craving for attention.

 But there’s a feeling far greater and deeper than craving.

 It is to yearn with all your heart for the Highest, for the Ultimate, for God.

 C.S. Lewis made the point that "lifelong friendship is born when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling of that something that you were born desiring - 

                             that you have been looking for,

                               watching for

                                 listening for,

                                  ALL YOUR LIFE!

 This shared feeling is a holy longing. A holy yearning

 And if you find that with someone, you’ve got something really special.

 Fr Henri LeSaux said that this feeling "cannot be located in anything that can be seen, heard touched or known in this world.”

 So, in other words, it is a longing for another realm, or dimension.

  It is a longing for Transcendence

   A longing for the Divine. 

    A taste for the Infinite.

     It’s a sense of eternity in the heart.

      It's a fire burning in the heart

  "I felt my heart strangely warmed," said John Wesley, and his life was never the same again.

 When two people truly love each other, they nurture this feeling in each other.

 Think of a couple at the base of a triangle.

 As they listen to and love each other, they stoke each other’s inner fires.

 And as they do, both are elevated towards the triangle’s peak. 

 They raise each other towards God, to heaven. 

 They raise each other towards beauty, truth and goodness.

 That’s what Wayne and Sylvia did for each other.

 That’s what made their relationship last, and what made it special.

 C.S. Lewis said: "While we are, this is.”

 “While we are, this is.” That is, nothing matters more than this. “While we are, this is.'

 And if "we lose this, we lose all.”

 The word is to at all costs,  keep your own inner fire burning - with all of your heart, soul and might.

 There's no better thing that you can do.