• brookmcbride

A Third More Excellent Way

Updated: Sep 25

(This Weekend, I am officiating the marriage of Sam McBride (my son) and Lui Ying (Iris). This is the reflection I am sharing. The scripture is 1 Corinthians 13)



Well, if you know anything about me you may know that I’m a storyteller. And that especially like to tell stories about my family. Maybe that’s why they always sit and fidget when I’m preaching a sermon…worried that I’m going to tell one on them. Well, today…guess what? I want to tell you a story. Only today, you might expect that I’m going to tell you a story about Sam…after all, he’s the one getting married right? But I’m not. Today, I want to tell you a story about his older siter…Cassie.


Cassie is the only daughter in our family. So, she has had to lay down strong and firm boundaries. And believe me when I say this: she is very good at it! When Cyndy was pregnant with Sam, our third. Someone asked Ben, our oldest, if he wanted a boy or a girl, a brother, or a sister, and without hesitation Ben said, Brother! Cassie’s enough sister for all of us!” As Cyndy put it, “As Cassie goes…so we all go!’


That is…until Sam showed up! Sam, you were literally the hardest headed kid we ever had! You know that Christian hymn, “We shall not be moved?” Well, Sam took that idea to new and amazing heights! No one could move same. Just ask our family about a certain vacation/camping trip to oakwood lakes near Watertown, SD!!! Ben, Cassie, and Wes actually went on strike because Cyndy and I were always giving in to Sam! But what they didn’t understand about Sam was that Sam never ever ever ever ever gave in! He was relentless in his pursuit of what he wanted. And to be honest with you it has served him remarkably well. His doggedness and determination, a great gift, has bade him a very successful person in this world. And we are super proud of who he has become.


But Ying …I tell you this story because in the last 2 years something strange, impossible even, has been happening to our son, Sam. We’ve been noticing it ever since you two came to our house on the 4th of July in 2020 and we met you for the first time. Something is happening to Sam…and you know what it is iris? He has fallen in love with you, Ying…love has entered the arena.


And suddenly it’s not all Sam, Sam, Sam….and to be honest it isn’t all Ying, Ying, Ying! It’s something that is happening in-between you two…LOVE! Martin Buber…my favorite theologian…Jewish by the way…says this: “If God is truly love…which is what we believe…then God is what’s in-betweens two people who love each other. God isn’t ‘a person’ but is instead that ‘incredible mystery’ that is in-between 2 people who love each other.” God is not something that is mine or yours…but only something we share. And love is leaving enough space between you for that 3rd, “more excellent” way. That shared something is where the Sacred resides.


Another way to say this is to say that Sam and Ying have learned a 3rd way to live and love. Let me explain. Most of us live in a dualistic world. Us vs. them. Democrat vs. Republican. Liberal vs Conservative. We grew up being on the debate team. And in debate what do you do? You compete. You lock horns. It’s your idea and facts and figures vs. their idea and facts and figures. In debate there are two teams, and each team is there to do one thing: to destroy the opponent! To win!


And man does it ever get old?!? In this old way of thinking…the best we can do is compromise. In order to get along each of us must give in and give something up. You give a little---I give a little, and somewhere in the middle we can get along…manage to survive.

But if we learn to love a 3rd way, what do we get?


Sam and Ying…I think we get you! We get what the apostle Paul calls “a more excellent way.” We get a love that will never, ever separate us. We get a love that’s not about owning and possessing, but about sharing and making room for something bigger than the two or you. And let me say this to both of you. No matter how handsome you are, and intelligent you. No matter how proud of you we are, Sam…and Cyndy and I are super proud…And no matter how beautiful you are Ying…and let me tell you…you are stunning…inside and out…and we want to thank your mom and dad for sharing that beauty and intelligence with us…neither of you compare to the beauty we see you two sharing when you live and love with enough space for a more excellent way…a third way.


Ying and Sam, may this love (what we have chosen to call God) always remain between you. May you never possess each other…but share in this open and affirming gift we can love.

You two are beautiful. You two are sacred. You two are a gift…reflecting and emanating this love to all of us. May all the world affirm it. May all the people gathered here, and in China, and in New York, and in our families all across this world say with me in one voice.


Sam and Ying…what you hold together…may no one put asunder.


Sam and Ying…what you hold together… is beautiful and sacred!


And may this beautiful gift grow and touch every living soul…may it be with the McBride family as we reach across and share our joy and love with the Liu family. May Ying’s friends and Sam’s friends come together in this same spirit. And all the people said, “Amen”

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