I have done my last wedding for the season. It was a beautiful fall day on the beach in Corolla, and I was blessed to marry a “sister of the cloth” to a very nice man. She is a retired United Methodist pastor from the Michigan conference, and their small family came to stand with them as they exchanged vows.
It is uncommon anymore for people to want to write their own vows. Nowadays, folks seem to be content with the traditional ones, or perhaps don’t want the stress and worry of writing something and having to remember it on a day that is already fraught with anxiety. Indeed, it is easier on the nerves to rely on the pastor for the ”repeat after me” vows. But this couple wrote their own vows and they were stunningly beautiful.
As we progressed to the exchange of the wedding rings, we got to a “repeat after me” moment. I have a tender fondness for the ring vows in the United Methodist wedding service. Truth be told, there is one phrase that makes me tear up every time:
I give you this ring
as a sign of my vow,
and with all that I am,
and all that I have,
I honor you;
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
There is something very poignant in the words “With all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you”. To make that commitment is a bold and audacious thing. It tells the other person that you promise that nothing will ever be withheld from them. It affirms that there is no part of your personhood that will be shared with anyone else. It says that you are “all in,” and they can count on you for the rest of their life. It is a precious commitment.
In our passage from Mark today, notice how a poor widow demonstrated to Jesus that she was “all in”:
Mark 12 (The Message)
38-40 He continued teaching. “Watch out for the religion scholars. They love to walk around in academic gowns, preening in the radiance of public flattery, basking in prominent positions, sitting at the head table at every church function. And all the time they are exploiting the weak and helpless. The longer their prayers, the worse they get. But they’ll pay for it in the end.”
41-44 Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”
Are you all in for Jesus? Are you willing to say to him that with all that you are, and all that you have, you will honor him? Have you committed your time, your talent, your resources, your giving, and your future to the furthering of his kingdom?
Jesus calls us to a covenant relationship that will outlast even our earthly ones. Are you all in? He is.