When Clinton was a very small boy, I would tell he and his brother Cole bedtime stories from the Bible and Lord of the Rings. Sometimes I would tell a mash upped story where King David kills a very large spider named Shelob with a sling shot and five smooth stones. (Forgive me, Lord.)
But after a time of story-telling, I would ask them to say their prayers so that I could hear them. One night Clinton, with his hands folded across his chest and eyes closed, began mumbling his prayers so that I couldn’t understand what he was saying. I said, “Clinton, speak up. I can’t hear you.”
He opened one eye and said, “I’m not talking to you.”
Out of the mouths of babes.
Clinton, this occasion of your wedding is one of the seminal moments in this father’s life. In fact, I can only think of one other event in your life that plucks similar chords in my heart and that was the day I baptized you when you were about six years old.
Behind the words of commitment you have made to Rachel today is a bedrock truth: You will mean every word you say down to the sinew of your soul. I know you will keep your promise to her because intuitively you know that she is the best thing that has ever happened to you. And, further, I know you will keep your promises because you are a man of your word. Your integrity is one of the things that I admire most about you, son.
And I realize that your integrity was not born in a vacuum. The values you live by have come from your family—represented here by your parents, grandparents, and brothers. These, along with aunts, uncles, and cousins, have influenced who you are as a man of integrity.
In addition to these, there are your friends—like Kramer and Rebecca, and Danny and Maddie and Ian—who have shaped and formed you. They have had a large impact on who you are. And when I see your devotion to your friends, my heart swells with admiration. You are a deeply blessed man to have these people of some quality, and many others, who will speak into your life.
Finally, there is Rachel. As your mother and I watch how you interact with her, we see a man who respects a woman. And, in a world where men do not always respect women—from presidents to preachers—the way you treat Rachel gives us hope that there is a new generation of men on the rise who will defend without patronizing, love without objectifying, and who will be committed without compromising.
I respect the way you treat Rachel, Clinton.
But I really believe that the greatest influence on the formation of your soul is Rachel Robin Reid. Her love for you will change you. Your deep love for her will change you, for the object of our deepest devotions always shape us.
So, son, continue to love Rachel well and we will all marvel at the glorious man you will become. Clinton, your mother, brothers, sisters-in-laws, grandparents—and so many others who could not be present today—respect you for your intelligence, sense of humor, core values, and who you have decide to spend the rest of your life with in covenant love.
We could not be more pleased with your choice for a wife and life-partner.
Now, I want to say a few things to Rachel.
Lynette and I have been praying for you for a very long time. When Clinton was a chubby-cheeked, red-headed little boy, we imagined this day for him. That is when we began to pray for you. Over the years as he had relationships with some fine women, we both would smile and say to each other, “Not yet.”
Then we met you, broke bread with you at a very good Thai restaurant in Portland and we drove away and said, “Yes!” Then you came to spend a Christmas weekend with us in Mukilteo. That’s when we knew Clinton would never, ever make a better decision in his life than to commit to loving you the rest of his days.
Do you remember going on that walk with me on Christmas day? I’m sure you were nervous to spend that much time alone with an intimidating man like me whom you barely knew. But I told you that I wanted to share three things with you back then, and I will remind you of them today:
One, my faith is the most important thing in my life. It’s not just my job as a minister but being an apprentice of Jesus of Nazareth is my life. I aspire to be like Jesus in everything that I do.
Second, I love Clinton as much as a father can love a son. His soul’s flourishing is my most fervent prayer and desire. I love Clinton James Chambers.
Third, if you love Clinton, I’ll love you in the same way that I love him.
You smiled and said that you respected my devotion to faith in Jesus. You also said that because I love Clinton so much, you would love me—because we both love the same man.
Rachel, that is when mutual respect was born. That three-mile-walk began our relationship as future father-in-law and daughter-in-law. It was one of the best walks—ever.
Lynette and I respect you, admire you, and love you as a beautiful soulmate for our son. We feel honored that God answered our twenty-nine-year-old prayer.
Thank you, God for hearing our prayers.
Thank you, Clinton for loving Rachel.
Thank you, Rachel for loving our son.
Now, I will share with you some very old words that serve as our life-long hope for you both.
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen