Last weekend I had the immeasurable joy of performing the wedding of my son, Mike, and his beautiful bride, Kendra. To make sure it was memorable, it was conducted at the World War II Museum in New Orleans – little knowing that the selected weekend would also be marked by the arrival of Hurricane Nate on the Louisiana and Mississippi coast. Ah, memories!

The museum venue was awesome. I fashioned my remarks to be consistent with the whole theme (#worldwarwedding) and wore my Navy uniform to officiate. Here is the transcript of the ceremony (although missing a few add-on comments I cannot remember); perhaps you will find something interesting or valuable in it.

If it were 75 years ago, I would be standing in my civilian clothes, with perhaps hundreds of other men we see honored in this museum, my life about to change forever in one minute – the time it takes to recite the following oath:

“I, James Ernest Groves, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

One minute a civilian teenager, the next a man committed to give whatever it takes to defend his country. Mike and Kendra, in a few minutes you, too, will make an oath, a promise to each other.

You are about to enter into a “covenant” – that’s a God word. Covenant creates a relationship more loving and intimate than a merely legal relationship; but it is also more binding and enduring than a merely emotional relationship. In fact, covenant creates a relationship that is far more loving and intimate because it is legal.

Covenant is much different than a “consumer relationship” in which you relate to the vendor as long as the vendor produces a good product at a good price. However, you are always looking for an upgrade. You let the vendor know that “we have a relationship but you better keep adjusting to me because if you don’t meet my needs, I’m outa here because my needs are more important than the relationship. If I can get my needs met somewhere else, that’s where I’ll go.”

Covenant relationship is the exact opposite. Consumer relationship says, “adjust to me or I’m gone.” Covenant relationship says, “I adjust to you because I made a promise and the relationship is more important than my needs.”

Mike and Kendra, today you are saying you are done with a consumer relationship. You’re entering into a covenant relationship – you’re getting married!

There are actually three benefits of covenant:

  1. You are creating a zone of safety and security. You can finally be yourself. You can stop marketing yourself, always selling yourself, always performing.
  2. When you are committed in spite of your feelings, deeper feelings grow. Tom and Kay [Kendra’s parents], Debbie and I know what was like to raise you two. We gave and gave, always adjusting to you, our children. But we were so invested in you that no matter what you did – and you did a few things – we have and will always love you.
  3. And there is a wonderful freedom from relying on feelings. Your relationship is based on a promise, not your feelings and needs.

With all that in mind, are you ready to make your promise, to take the oath? [they said yes – whew!]

Then raise your right hand and repeat after me: “I, Michael J Groves [Kendra Lynn Stout], do solemnly swear that I will support and defend our covenant of marriage against all enemies, within and without; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will hold the commitment I am making today above my own wants and desires, for as long as we both shall live. So help me God.”

On the basis of those promises, I pronounce you man and wife. You may seal this covenant with a kiss. [and the crowd went crazy – and dad just smiled]

Pastor Jim

(some thoughts about covenant drawn from a sermon by Tim Keller)