By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
April showers bring May flowers. Spring is a time when many romances begin, including my romance with my wife Janice. I am so grateful to have been married to Janice for almost thirty-six years. She is the love of my life and the joy of my heart.
When I was a teenager, I held the unoriginal view that marriage was just a piece of paper, a merely human sociological invention. Since coming to faith in 1972, I have been fascinated by the meaning of marriage. Reading Matthew 19: 6 (What God has joined together…), I was shocked to discover that God invented marriage. I remember sharing with my future wife on our first date in 1975 about my fascination with the theology of marriage. She found me somewhat overwhelming, and told me that she wasn’t ready to commit as she had just broken up with her fiancée.
While completing my Masters, I wrote an essay on the meaning of marriage, with a strong emphasis on the ‘one flesh’ covenant. I concluded the essay by writing our own marriage ceremony and inviting my professor Bill Adams to our wedding. Fortunately he liked the wedding and gave me a good mark. Thirty-six years later, Janice and I are co-leading Strengthening Marriage workshops and Strengthening Relationship groups. I graduated on May 26th 2013 with a Doctor of Ministry, focusing on ‘Strengthening Marriages.’
Part of my North Shore ministry involves visiting extended care facilities where often one spouse has Alzheimer‘s disease and the other doesn’t. I have been so impressed by the love of one North Shore wife for her Alzheimer-afflicted husband who was a former university professor. Her covenantal love and honour for her husband is deeply rooted in his unshakable humanity, being made in God’s image.
A wedding is a celebration of a couple coming to the point where they are truly willing to become one flesh in body, mind and spirit. Marriage is far more than just a contract or a prenuptial agreement. Marriage is a covenant of faith and trust between a man and woman, a covenant grounded for Christians in their shared commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord. At the heart of the concept of covenant is unconditional commitment. The hyper-individualism of our consumer culture is the acid rain of covenant love. The busyness and stress of our culture tends to swallow our best intentions even in marriage.
James Olthius, author of I Pledge You My Troth, teaches that marriage is troth, as in ‘I pledge you my troth’. This term, troth, as in betrothal, is an Old English term for truth, faithfulness, loyalty and honesty. At the heart of marriage troth is our pledge ‘to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer , for poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part…”
At the heart of spring romance for me is that assurance that my wife will stand with me through thick and thin, through good times and bad. Janice has my back and I have hers. My prayer for marriages is that God may give us back our first love for each other. May our covenant commitment be like precious gold.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada
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