This was the message that I gave when I spoke at my brother's wedding:
Friends and Family,
We are gathered here today to celebrate Bret and Lucie as they enter a new stage of life together in the bonds of marriage. They have chosen to marry each other because of their great love for each other, because of the commitment to each other, and because they wish to declare their love in the presence of those closest to them. Their relationship has been quite a journey, hasn’t it? Can you believe, Bret, that it has only been about 6 years since you decided to leave everything familiar in the United States and come here to Prague to begin a new stage in life? Did you ever expect that it would lead you here, to marry the woman who has not only become the love of your life, but whom also has become your best friend? Probably not, I assume. Or Lucie, did you ever think that you would fall in love with an American aspiring-artist-turned English teacher? Maybe, maybe not, some people aim very high!
Nevertheless these two found each other. And what has been amazing about their relationship is their commitment that they have demonstrated to each other even from the earliest stages. The quality about Lucie that Bret always pointed out from early on was how sweet and kind Lucie is, and how she desires to take care of people in need, doing so with a grateful heart. There’s a reason she enjoys her work with Unicef. She wouldn’t be so good at it if it she didn’t care so deeply about helping people around the world in need. Their first meeting late one night at a bar in Prague speaks to that caring quality of hers. My parents and I have never learned the full extent of Bret’s (*cough*) state of mind that night, and something tells me we never will! Bret was still new to Prague and had yet to fully learn his way around the city, particularly how to get back home. But Lucie clearly saw that Bret was in no condition to take care of himself that evening. So she did what came natural to her – stepped in and gave a caring hand by opening up her home for him to stay for the night. And after encountering each other enough times after that, their dating relationship began.
Bret also demonstrated a commitment to Lucie early on. When Lucie began having some health problems, Bret stood by her to make sure that she was being taken care of properly. I don’t think they had been seeing each for that long, or if their ability to speak in English to each other was very developed. Bret has often joked with us how Lucie’s English improved significantly in their time together, but his Czech was much farther behind. But Bret knew that Lucie needed someone to help her through her sudden changes. And in the long run, they have helped each other become better people, ultimately learning to love each other through the different seasons of life.
You see my dear friends, we are created to love each other. With all my heart, I believe that God has created each person on this planet with the desire and the capacity to love. It is why we need our families, why we need a community of friendships. God has created us to love, and calls us to show that love in real, tangible ways. We are God’s creation, and because of that, we seek love and desire to show love for each other because of the love that God has for us. Let me read to you a passage that describes what this love that God calls us to looks like.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
This is real love. Love is always shown in our actions with each other. But let’s be honest, we can often make a lot of mistakes along the way as we try our best to love each other. Bret and Lucie have been through many things together, and have worked through them. And they will continue to struggle together. But they are committed to each other, because today they are swearing their total love and devotion to each other, a commitment that requires us to give every bit of ourselves to. And I believe that in the times we are unable to love each other to the fullest degree possible – with patience, kindness, without boasting or anger like those lines I just read to you – it is in those times that God helps us and gives us the ability to love each other when we feel like we have nothing of ourselves left to give! That is how potent and how important love is, and why marriage is such a huge deal.
I like to think of the marriage commitment that Bret and Lucie are making today as a covenant relationship. A covenant relationship is a love relationship that is defined by the most intense commitment, the greatest passion, and the greatest desire to remain together through the thick and thin. It is the kind of love relationship that fails to be captured only with words, but is always being demonstrated in their actions, in their time together, and in guiding each other on this journey of life together. It is a vow that is not and should not be taken lightly. It is the kind of relationship that when you see two people like Bret and Lucie together demonstrating their love for each other and to those around them alongside each other, that people look and say, “Wow! That is real, that is special, and that is good!” I can’t think of a greater calling for two people in love than to make this kind of commitment to each other. And it’s because of this vow, this commitment, this covenant, that Bret and Lucie have so much to look forward to as they enter this new and exciting stage of life together.