Devotion and Trust

First published February 2016

The Reverend John Chandler looks at how marriage demonstrates the devotion and trust we should have for one another.

This year, St. Valentine's Day, 14th February, falls on a Sunday. It's too good an opportunity to miss - the service we will have at St. Michael's will be a Celebration of Marriage.

One part of the Marriage service has got me thinking - the bit where I ask the bride and groom: "Will you.… be faithful to him/her to the end of your life". We know what that means, but it does show that there's a big difference between being 'faithful' and 'full of faith'. Being faithful could just mean not being unfaithful; but what's the connection with our usual understanding of the word 'faith'?

Faith is often the word we use to describe that part of our society which declares a belief in God, and all that goes with it. One definition in the Bible is "Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1). But there's lots more to faith than a belief. For instance:

Faith is about trust - which we all display in many things every day. You have faith that the chair you're sitting on right now will bear your weight (admit it - you're suddenly aware of your surroundings!); that the phone you use will connect a call; and so on. That trust has been earned by the action of others and by our experience. Marriage and in fact any community relationship rely on our faith and trust in others.

Faith is about devotion - obviously, devotion to one another in marriage, and of a Christian to God and His teaching. And our devotion to others enables them to trust us.

So surely the model God gives, and marriage demonstrates, is the benefit of us all being a "community of the faithful" - devoted to the wellbeing and support of others, to the point that there is mutual trust. Ah, you might say - I don't even know everyone around here! Yes, but remember those days when you started getting to know someone really well? Perhaps building up relationships now can be as exciting as our courtship days, when acquaintanceship grew into actually wanting to be with someone, and feeling sad when apart? And then that great feeling of knowing someone actually loves you?

I've made many good friends; you may have made many more! So, as well as continuing to build on that trust and devotion, it will be good for us all to celebrate this month - marriage, if we can, but certainly the blessing of faithful friends in this lovely place.

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