Honoring the Nestorian Christians

Sunday, June 21, 2015


The Rev. Dr. Winfred B. Vergara, Holy Child Episcopal Church OF Milpitas & San Jose, California. June 19, 2015

Arturo & Angeles Dela Cruz with children and grandchildren

It is a great honor to be invited by Art and Angie to preach on their wedding anniversary. For many years now, my wife and I have been part of their lives and they of ours. Angeles was Senior Warden of Holy Child Church for many years. We have worked together, traveled the world together and very much became part of each other’s families. 

The Bible says in Psalm 23 says that when the Lord is your Shepherd, there will be three ladies following you: “Shirley (Surely), Goodness and Mercy.” In my ministry, both as founding priest of Holy Child Church and missioner in the Episcopal Church, there are three “angels” close to me: Angela, my wife; Angeline, my support staff; and Angeles, my Senior Warden. Friends at EAM would often refer to them Angie1, Angie2 and Angie3!

So what can I say to Art and Angie (the warden), for their wedding anniversary? What does a wedding anniversary mean?

First of all, an anniversary is a milestone. 
Today, we seldom see milestones. What we see are giant billboards that give us the distance from point A to point B. These billboards also tell us only what the next exit is and whether there are gasoline station, hotels and food courts in that exit.

But in the olden days, they were milestones by the highways. They tell us how far we have gone and how far we still have to go. So a marriage anniversary is a milestone. Now, we know how far Art & Angie have gone with their marriage: 50 years! Only God know how far they still have to go. But for now, let us thank God for these 50 years! 

50 years of  sunshines and sunsets, of laughter and tears, of trials and triumphs. 50 years of faith, hope and love. 50 years of fruitfulness: 3 children and 2 grandchildren. 50 years of walking with God and so many blessings to count. So let us wish to Art and Angie, Happy Golden Anniversary!

Secondly, an anniversary is a time of renewal
It is a time to refresh yourself with the vows you made 50 years ago. One day, my wife and I were watching the TV show, Family Feud and the TV host said, “We asked a hundred married couples how many times a day you say I love you to each other” and the number one answer was, “once a day.” And my wife, remarked, “I don’t believe it!”

Yes, for so many Asian couples, we seldom express ”I love you” in words but we say “I love you” in deeds, not just once, not just twice but many times a day. We mean love when we do the laundry even though it does not seem macho; we mean love in silence even when our mouths wants to yell; we mean love in deeds of kindness, patience, endurance and self-control. So Art, if you have not said “I love you” to Angie for the past 50 years, now is the time to say it---in words!

The poet T. S. Elliot said, “We shall never cease from exploring; and the end of all exploring is to return to the place where you started and know the place for the first time.”

Anniversary is a time to reflect on how you have grown together, what you have learned, how much more you are in love today than you were even on your wedding day. The presence of your children and grandchildren, of relatives and friends who are now aging, and the ever-widening circles of friendship add a special touch to your life.

You may not have the same youthful energy you had before but the presence of the unity candle reminds you of the special enduring bond of your marriage – the enduring light of your love that time and trials cannot diminish because of what you mean to one another and to each other as a family. By God’s grace, you have survived illnesses, overcame surgeries and triumphed against many dangers and perils in life---not just physical and emotional but spiritual. Your marriage not only survived but continue to prevail in a world where many marriages do not.

So let us revel on 50 years. 50 years means half century. People used to say, “life begins at 40.” Today, we say, “life begins at 50.” So, Angie and Art, today is the first day of the rest of your marriage. After this ceremony, please enjoy your 50th honeymoon and know it as if for the first time.

 Thirdly and finally, your anniversary is an opportunity for witness.
The gospel today says, “you are the light of the world…let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
There is no such thing as a perfect marriage. All of us who are married know that. But there is such thing as a perfect love,  the perfect love imparted by the greatest Lover (God); who gave the greatest Gift (His Son); and who made the greatest Promise (eternal Iife)!

This perfect love of God, unconditional and everlasting, has brought you together and given you grace to enjoy and endure, joy and sorrow, good hair days and bad hair days. Through all those times, from youthful years to middle age, to retirement days, God’s perfect love has been the glue that keeps you together, holding you both in the palm of His hands, and looking at you as apples of gold in a setting of silver.  We are all precious in God’s eyes and He has called us out of the darkness into his marvelous light, so that by this light, we may help overcome the darkness of this world.

So after having achieved so many things and have retired from your professions, let your marriage be your new vocation. Theologian Frederick Buechner wrote, “Vocation is where your greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.” I would add, vocation is when what you are good at, will also give joy to the world. 

Art and Angie, you are good in so many things but most of all you are very good in marriage. May your vocation of marriage enable you to bear witness to God’s perfect love that people may see your good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven. Amen.

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