Sermon: Denis and Valerie Trigg On Their Golden Wedding
Preached on 28th December 2010
by The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove
When Jesus went to the wedding at Cana in Galilee, he didn’t preach a sermon or give the couple good advice. What mattered to him was that the wine didn’t run out so that the party could go on. He would have done the same at a golden wedding. So the homily today should be short, for the central word of marriage and of life is short. ‘Love’.
Yet it’s the biggest word there is. Where do we find love? In the tiniest hazelnut, says Mother Julian: it exists because God loves it. In the entire sweep of the universe, says Dante, because it is ‘love that moves the sun and the other stars’. But today love has a human face in Denis and Val. And to their memories of 50 years we bring our own to offer today: memories of those who have loved us into life, whose lives are interwoven with ours and made us what we are. At the eucharist, we know that love is God’s meaning.
Today, on the Fourth Day of Christmas, we keep the Feast of the Holy Innocents. It’s a dark festival for a joyful season. For these were the children of Bethlehem massacred by Herod because he was afraid of the birth of the Infant King. It’s important to remember, especially at Christmas time, the cruelty perpetrated on children from that day to this. It is hard to comprehend how children can ever be harmed by those they trust the most. Today reminds us that the holly bears a berry as red as any blood.
But at the centre of it all is a human family. Mary and Joseph take their child to Egypt to protect him from Herod. In a land that does not get a good press in the Bible, Egyptian Christians and Muslims love this story because of how Egypt welcomed the child Jesus and kept him safe. When I was there I bought a beautiful Coptic icon of the Flight into Egypt. I find its naïve tenderness touching and moving, because in this intimate little scene, somehow the life of every family is captured. And so is the truth the story reminds us, which every parent and child knows: that the best protection an infant can have is the love and care of a family.
So today we celebrate how Denis and Valerie’s love has held and embraced not only the two of them but their children and grandchildren too. In the Talmud, it says that the shekinah, God’s presence and glory dwells between a husband and a wife. For where love is, there is God, for God himself is love. There’s a saying I sometimes quote at weddings: ‘that it isn’t when I breathe, but when I love I live’. All of us who know and have come to love the two of you know that this God-given quality of being truly, deeply alive, is in you. It is a precious gift to your family and to all of us. In the love of God from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes it name you had your beginning 50 years ago today. Like the Holy Family, you have tasted its length and breadth and height and depth, have glimpsed in each other how the love of Christ passes knowledge. In his love may you also have your end, and many more days inbetween. And as Tobias prayed, may you both find mercy and grow old together.