By now faithful readers know that my spiritual quest does not often lead to church.
However, when I do spend time below the cross, I do it at the place Mr. SevPrez and I were married, two years ago to the day. Elberon Memorial Church, in Long Branch, NJ, is a non-denominational summer church founded more than one hundred years ago for the use of vacationers at the Jersey Shore. It's a big old gorgeous church, located about a block from ocean. Several preachers from the area take turns giving services on summer Sundays starting in July, and great music is played by renowned area musicians.
Since our wedding was being held in a church (albeit one with, thankfully, limited "churchiness"), and performed by a minister, we were encouraged to include a passage from the Bible in our ceremony. I didn't fight this too much, because even though it's personally not my favorite book, it is a pretty powerful one, so I was pretty sure we'd be able to find something meaningful to both of us besides Corinthians 1:13 ("love is patient, love is kind..."). That's one of those passages that gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it, but because of my job, and because we went to six weddings last year, has begun to ring hollow from overuse.
So after a bit of research, we chose Paul's letter to the Philippians. Our minister, who'd been in the business of performing weddings for several decades, professed he'd never used this passage in a wedding before, but he liked it a lot. So much, in fact, that three months later, when he got married, he used it for his ceremony. (You have to know how much it pleased me. They don't call me the quote master for nothing!) It reads:
"...Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of love will be with you."
(Philipians 4, New American Standard Bible)
It's another way of expressing one of my most closely held tenants: you gotta keep on the bright side of things. But don't get carried away. Never forget to pack sunscreen.
*Philipi was a town in what is now mainland Greece, though at the time it was Macedonia, under Roman rule. Paul wrote this letter from jail to the Christian community he had converted there, basically telling them to keep the faith in hard times.