Congregational Church of La Jolla
August 4, 2019
The Wedding of Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser & Matthias Kaeser
Isaiah 43: 1-6, 18-19
Would you join me in prayer:
Gracious, Merciful God: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts together be found acceptable in your sight. Our Rock and Our Redeemer. Amen.
Well, here we are. All together. The day is, indeed, here. And believe me, I know that this week has been an adventure for some of you. Oceans were crossed, continents were traversed, air miles were accumulated, jet lag was fought, but all the logistical puzzles paid off because we are all here. Yes, it’s warm, yes, its humid, yes parking here is nightmare, we know — but it’s all good. Today is good. Bronwyn texted me on Wednesday to tell me that in the midst of her finalizing this service, in the midst of picking up people from the airport, just before picking up her dress in fact, her transmission gave out in the middle of the road and she was now blocking the lovely busses of our Metro Transit. As she waited for Matthias to rescue her ailing vehicle, I reminded her then, also, that is was all good. God, step into this mess, we say. Be with us. It’s all good. And it’s all good now too. God is surely among us.
You might have noticed that this service is formatted a bit differently than other weddings you might have been to and thats because what we are doing today follows the pattern of our Sunday morning liturgy. The one that Bronwyn and Matthias have been familiar with every Sunday since they both moved here 4 years ago now. We always start our worship with a hymn and I chose one of my most favorite hymns to begin our time together this afternoon because I think it tells the truth. It goes something like this: There's a sweet sweet spirit in this place. And I know that it's the spirit of the Lord. There are sweet expressions on each face. And I know that it's the presence of the Lord. Sweet, Holy Spirit Sweet heavenly dove Stay right here with us Filling us with your love And for these blessings we lift our hearts in praise, for with out a doubt we'll know that we’ve been revived when we shall leave this place. I think our being together in this room together, here to celebrate what we are celebrating is a testament that there is indeed a spirit in this place. And it is indeed sweet.
Three years ago I took a trip to Norway and while I was there I visited the Kon-Tiki Museum which in case you aren’t familiar with what that is, the Kon-Tiki was the name of a primitive wooden raft that the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl used in 1947 to set sail into the South Pacific so he could prove, using nothing but materials and navigation equipment available to ancient peoples, that it would have been possible to sail across the South Pacific from South America to Polynesia and that ancient peoples might have actually done so. A dangerous, and odd voyage it was, most definitely. Thor and his crew not only survived but they made it all the way across the Pacific in this little raft making him a world wide celebrity. In the museum which honors him in his home country of Norway I flipped through a little paperback copy of the book that he wrote reflecting about his voyage. The first line of the book is one I’ve never forgotten, he writes:
Once in awhile you find yourself in an odd situation. You get into it by degrees and in the most natural way but when you are right in the midst of it, you are suddenly astonished and ask yourself how in the world it all came about.
There is so much truth to this.
I imagine that when Bronwyn arrived here in 2015, having packed up almost her entire adult life in Charlotte and her little dog and moved here to Southern California to care for her father, Jerry, that had she been shown a snapshot of this moment in time, only 4 years later, she wouldn’t have believed how in the world it would have come about.
And I imagine that Matthias 4 years ago as he made his way here from 5,900 and some odd miles away (thats around 9,575.5 kilometers - because I know there’s a large contingent among us who use that measurement) he had no idea that in 4 yeas he would be sitting here, in this church, married, serving in his second year as moderator of the congregation, a tan skinned Californian, and a permanent resident of the United States.
Bronwyn and Matthias stepped into the unknown at almost the exact same in 2015. And by the grace of God, they both arrived here. To this place. Bronwyn came to the church that her father adored and had served selflessly for years and Matthias accepted the invitation of his neighbor, our dear Ann Wentink, to come to our annual Oktoberfest party. Both Bronwyn and Matthias came, and never left. We thank God that both of them had the courage to step into the unknown. We thank God for whoever Matthias’ realtor was who had the good sense to convince him to get a condo next to Ann Wentink. We thank God for Ann Wentink who had the love and passion to share her church with her neighbor. We thank God that your previous minister liked Germany enough to have an Oktoberfest party that Matthias could come to. We thank God that the members of this church were so kind that Matthias didn’t want to leave. We thank God that they both liked to sing and ended up in the choir. We thank God that Nina is our music director and provided a welcoming platform for them to get to know each other. We thank God that both Bronwyn and Matthias answered the call to pack up their lives and come here and are continuing to answer the call in saying YES to each other. We thank God that ours is a God who, as our reading from Isaiah pointed out, allows us to pass through the waters without being swept away and pass through the fire without being burned. A God who continually does a new things in our lives. Who coaxes us into the dark of the unknown with the promise of faithfulness and rewards us for doing so with joyous occasions such as today.
As you can see, this all didn’t just happen because of them. It happened because of all of you. Because all of you, each one of you, played some role in this. It happened because all of you, brought that sweet spirit to this place where it was unleashed in all its glory and made miracles happen. And I hope each one of you remember what Thor Heyerdahl’s said and you reflect on how it is you ended up here, in this church, in La Jolla, on this afternoon in August of 2019. As Thor Heyerdahl says we were led to this moment in the most natural and incremental of ways but when we stop to really think about it, we are astonished at how in the world it all came about. What did God do in your life that led you to this place. To this moment. To this story. How were you used in this unfolding story of Bronwyn and Matthias? The same God that brought Matthias and Bronwyn to this place, brought each one of us to this place as well. And aren’t we all so very fortunate.
Only 10 years ago Matthias was working in Germany, Bronwyn in North Carolina, and I was in high school in Montana. Never did I ever image then that on this day we’d all be brought to this moment where I would marry my moderator to my office manager and we’d all be living in America’s Finest City. But we, all of us, are here because God moved us through the flames of our lives and were not burnt, God carried us though the waters of the unknown without them sweeping over us and gathered us together and called us beloved. Our God has a sweet, sweet spirit, indeed.