In Ecclesiastes 4, the Preacher (narrative voice of this Old Testament book of reflections on life) muses on how two people together is better than one person alone--supporting one another, one lifting the other up if the other falls. Then he states that "A threefold cord is not quickly broken".
Wait a minute, THREE-fold? Hasn't he been talking about two people, sustaining one another, committed to one another, almost a "you and me against the world" kind of thing? Two. Not three. Where does this three thing come in?
If we're honest, those of us who are in that kind of committed relationship with another person know that it's not just two people. We talk about it, maybe not in traditional ways of spirituality, but we talk about it in sort of traditional ways that are not in the language of spirituality. "It was bigger than both of us." "Something drew us together." "We could never have planned how it all worked out." "It was meant to be." These are phrases most of us have heard, and these aren't all of them in this realm. They acknowledge a belief in something other than just two people in a vacuum making some sort of rational, unemotional decision. They acknowledge that SOMETHING is at work to bring us together, and seems purposeful enough that coincidence or even serendipity doesn't fully explain it. In these phrases we find a potentially unexamined acknowledgment that "something" beyond ourselves is participating in bringing about the connection we feel with that one other person. Besides the two of us, there is a third--and this third helps "tie the knot"--and the more we acknowledge this beneficent third the more that cord of me, the other and the purposeful mysterious third is tied together. A Christian marriage ceremony (at least the kind that I do) recognizes and acknowledges this grace that brings us together and connect us.
I like to believe that this merger of the Millvale and McKnight congregations isn't merely a geographical convenience--that it's not just finances that connects us. (As a matter of fact, certain finances coming to McKnight from Millvale are already prioritized to continue to address human need in Millvale.) I like to believe that the Spirit of God was at work in the Millvale congregation as the challenges of ministry in a dwindling congregation got too much to do on their own, and that Spirit of God guided them in their decision-making--first to sell their building second to find a partner to merge with, so that their legacy of ministry could actively continue..
So as we join together in this "marriage", I pray that the third in that three-fold cord continues to bring us together, and keep us together as we seek to serve God and our neighbor in all we do.
GOSPEL John 2:1-11
1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ 4 And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ 5 His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ 6 Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
OLD TESTAMENT Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. . . . 12 And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
NEW TESTAMENT Ephesians 4:1-6
1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.