#6: Binding and loosing

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. (Matthew 18:18-20)

I had bought a pair of large wire cutters. I should have got a pair of small bolt cutters. It was harder than I thought.

My marriage had effectively ended. We had been separated from some time. The initial pain had eased. The arrangements for the kids and their care had been made. The house had been sold, the mortgage paid and the funds fairly distributed. With the help of friends and others, I had largely come to terms with this new reality of my life. But nearly twenty years before I had made a vow before God, “…as long as you both shall live.” I had heard the words, “What God has joined together let no one separate.” And of course several years later when I was ordained I had promised to “strive to shape your own life and that of your household according to the way of Christ.”

In these vows and promises I had failed.

Yes, I knew that in this as well as all the other ‘failures and frailties of our human life’ I could be forgiven, and I was, as always, one of God’s beloved children.

But I had made solemn vows. My spiritual guide, a mature priest, suggested we could mark the end of this marriage liturgically. That as Jesus had given the power ‘to bind and to loose’ to his disciples I could be released from these vows. And so we gathered, him and I, and a couple of my closest friends, in church. I had brought my wedding ring. I decided that after the prayers I would cut the ring.

It was harder than I thought.

I squeezed hard without much effect. I needed to wrap both hands around the end of the handles of the cutters to get more leverage.

It is not easy to cut a gold ring. It is not easy to break a marriage.

But I was unbound and free again to continue to “strive to shape your own life and that of your household according to the way of Christ” in the new reality of my life. Ω

Reflect: What promises or vows have you failed to fulfil? Ask God to show you which is most important today. Do you feel ‘loosed’ from this vow or promise? If so, how did this happen? If not, ask God to show you the next step: Is it to fulfil the vow or promise? Or is it to be freed from it? You may want to talk with a pastor or a trusted friend about this.

#Lent2020 © Sanctuary, 2020.


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