Sam and Bernadette Dreyer's 25th Wedding Anniversary Mass

                  HOMILY GIVEN BY FR. TONY NOBLE ON DECEMBER 27th, 2008


Isaiah 6:10 "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall exult in my God."


Today, so soon after Christmas, Sam and Bernadette come to celebrate that day when they pledged their love and lives to each other 25th years ago.


Today is a fitting day to do this.   Christmas celebrates God showing his love for us through the birth of Jesus.   Scripture tells us that Marriage does the same thing - the love of husband and wife is an image of God's love and especially Christ's love to the Church.


Sam and Bernadette, you have shown God's love through your marriage and through your faithful love.   Now you come to give thanks in this Church of All Saints'. Your Church, where you come to worship and pray with your wider family of All Saints' Parish.


This celebration of Mass today is a special celebration of that wonderful sacrament which you share in Sunday by Sunday, the Eucharist.  


The Altar is central to our celebration, and we can divide the celebration today into three parts, in relation to the Altar:

·    To the altar

·    At the altar

·    From the altar


Firstly, to the altar.   What a joyous moment it was when you entered the Church, accompanied by your children.   The path to the altar today began when you first met.   The relationship that developed set you on a path…no doubt you have been reflecting on it going back in your mind over 25 years to the excitement of youth and love…and all that has followed since.   I'm sure it hasn't always been easy, but here you are now - and wiser I'm sure J


So you came to the altar.  


Shortly at the altar you will renew your marriage vows and be blessed yet again.   The altar is the central and most important part of a Church.   Here Mass is celebrated and here we come to receive Holy Communion.


Marriage is also a Sacrament.   When you first made your promises, God poured out his grace upon you. You are perhaps aware of that - how his grace has been with you for the journey.   Sometimes when we least expect it, God startles us with a glimpse of his love or an awareness of his presence.   Let God give you more glimpses, more joys, more graces, more of his love.


But the altar is a beginning, not an end.   Having renewed your vows, you will receive Holy Communion and then walk from the altar in a joyful procession.   Afterwards you will greet family and friends, and we will all be sharing your joy. And then a feast to celebrate!


You go out full of grace from the altar.   It is grace given you to enable you to continue to live out your love as husband and wife - an image of Christ's love for his people, which was revealed on the first Christmas day!


Those three moments - to the altar, at the altar, from the altar - are not only the theme of this Mass, they are also the rhythm of life for all Christians - married or single.


For to the altar, at the altar, and from the altar, are also at the centre of life for the Christian.   It is to the altar - that we readily go. It is our spiritual centre, the place of worship, and our focus as God's children.


We come here to the altar, to give of ourselves to God - just as you did 25 years ago, and as you do again today.   Here at the altar we continually bring ourselves to make an offering of love, as you do, so that we may be filled with his love.


Here we come to the throne of grace, that we may receive grace from God for our lives.   Here we meet God. Here Jesus gives himself to us in Holy Communion and pours upon us the Holy Spirit.   We are then to leave the altar carrying that life we have received from the altar into our everyday lives.


As you have shared your love, Sam and Bernadette, so all of us are called to share God's love.   We thank you for reminding us of this.   We give thanks to God for you, and we do indeed share your joy - and we celebrate with you.