Bishop PeterWe need the ‘twos and threes’

Taking a wedding recently I stood before the couple to be married and was deeply touched by the level of emotion that they both demonstrated as we sang the first hymn.  They were clearly in love, and their journey to the altar had not been without its difficulties and trials. The declarations, vows and blessing were all undertaken ‘reverently, responsibly and after serious thought’.  Their marriage was duly ‘solemnised’.  In my address I remarked that in Jewish Scripture it is said that ‘It is forbidden to taste the pleasures of this world without a blessing.’  ‘You may kiss the bride’ I declared after the blessing – let the celebration begin.

It would not have been difficult that day to guess what was in the heart of this bride and groom.  They were in love, a love that was reflecting itself in loyalty,   a pledge to take responsibility for each other, as well as a commitment to share their lives and destinies.  They were no longer alone; love had redeemed their solitude. A couple of times recently I have sat with friends and colleagues and we have shared what’s in our heart.  They have been open times, reflecting joy, sorrow, strength as well as vulnerability, and times of blessing.  I’ve been reminded of Jesus’ definition of church – ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in the midst’.  It really felt like that. Most who read this will ‘belong to the church’ in some form or another.  But the institution, for all the good it does, does not always help us to share what is in our heart.  We need the ‘twos and threes’ because they bless us.  They help us to emerge as Christians, they lead us into the mystery of ourselves and enable us  to be open to the God who loves us, because God is love and therefore helps us to love the self that we were meant to be. Writer, Richard Rohr reflects, ‘We are created with an inner drive and necessity that sends us looking for our true self, whether we know it or not’.  Often in the redeemed solitude that marriage brings to people, the search for the true self is enhanced in the company of ‘the other’.  But it is not only in such intimacy of relationship that blessing happens.  It is in the ‘twos and threes’ who take time to contemplate, reflect and share their journey within the love of God, that brings us back to the person and purpose God created us to be. +Peter Bath and Wells