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And be thankful.


I’ve been meaning to type up the homily Sam gave at our wedding for a long time. Here it is.

We picked the following readings

Song of Solomon 2:10-13; 8:6-7
Colossians 3:12-17
Matthew 5:13-16

Sam spun the homily off Colossians 3:12-17. Its a super piece of writing. Thank you Sam.

“And be thankful.”

A little three-word sentence. “And be thankful.” Tucked into the midst of a letter to a fractious community, it’s almost in danger of being lost. Yet this brief little three-word sentence is probably the most valuable text to take away from this day.

“And be thankful.” It may seem redundant even to raise the issue of thanks in the midst of such a celebrative occasion. But here, no less than in a first-century epistle to the Colossae, this little matter of thanks is almost a throwaway, in danger of loss if only through our easy presumptions. Why of course we’re thankful. Thankful for Hannah. Thankful for Craig. Thankful for the love between them. Thankful to have been included in this small circle where that love is affirmed and blessed.

Mindful too that at the center of this event is the exchange of vows, promises that Hannah and Craig have at one level already made to one another and begun to live into, but here repeat in our midst before God. In this public act, they offer themselves to one another and their love to the world. And like every sacramental act before God, this offering is an expression of thanksgiving. Thanks of each of them for the other. Thanks each and both offer to each and all of us for the many ways we have contributed to and participated in everything leading up to this moment.

But still, we need reminding. “And be thankful.” We all need reminding that what we’re about here is an act of profound thankfulness. And that what proceeds from this occasion is, too.

Hannah, Craig as you male your vows in a few moments, do let yourself feel the depth of emotion appropriate to this occasion. Look deeply into the eyes of the other, feel the overwhelming gift of love being promised to you. And be thankful. Be thankful for the gift of this person God has brought into this world and into your life. Thankful for the families and friends whose nurture has helped, and continues to labor to assist this person to fulfill the amazing potential of Creation in his life, in her life.

Hannah, when you hold Craig’s hand in yours; Craig, cradling Hannah’s hand In yours, feel the full weight of responsibility that comes of accepting this gift. And be thankful. Thankful for the confidence of the giver: confidence brave to own the gift of self, the greater courage to give it away. Thankful for the capacity within you to bear such love in trust. Thankful for God, for your family and friends who share this burden joyfully with you.

Thankful that God offers you this person to love, offering you the particularity of one love bearing the fullness of divine intimacy in the fullness of human life and living.

Let yourselves experience fully the joys ahead. And be thankful. Be thankful and know that in that gratitude you acknowledge that no joy comes to any of us without cost. Be thankful for all who have paid the price that you may know and enjoy the gift. Thankful that you share that joy with one another, with many others, in this world and beyond, multiplying that gift so many times over only an infinite eternity can embrace its abundance.

Let yourselves experience fully the pains and disappointments ahead. And be thankful. Be thankful and know in that gratitude you acknowledge that no sorrow comes to any of us without blessing. Thankful that whatever challenge or burden you bear holds the potential for growth and grace. Thankful that you share every burden with one another, with many others, thus apportioning what might otherwise be unbearable sufficient to carry on.

On your best days, be thankful for all you have been given in each other. Be thankful for every pleasure reflected and multiplied in the mutual enjoyment of your partner. In your worst times, be thankful for one person who loves you enough not to let you always have your way; thankful for one who loves you more than to let you present your face in public with a booger descending from your nose, metaphorical egg on your face, or worse; thankful for one whose love for you calls our natural propensity to selfish sin to account and in so doing literally saves us.

And still be thankful. Gazing upon the wonder of the other, let your heart be filled with gratitude for his presence, her presence in your life. Even in those moments when anger overtakes you and the mere sight of the other aggravates, takes pause and be thankful, thankful that in all likelihood what you have in this person on their worst day is probably better than you truly deserve.

You may wonder, and others will undoubtedly be quick to tell you, all that you might do, should do to ensure a rich life together. Yet all you need – all any of us truly needs – is this sage counsel to be thankful. For if one is truly, deeply, profoundly grateful, only good can proceed. If in all things and at all times you embrace this posture of genuine gratitude, you cannot be any nearer to the heart, and the realm, of God. There you will find every blessing we wish for you, and be thankful.


Sam Portaro
May 31, 2008
The Cathedral of St John the Divine
New York City


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I’m getting married

Woo Hoo. This wonderful person wants to marry me.(on the right)

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