Saturday, August 01, 2009

Ephesians 5:22-33; Wedding Sermon for Eric and Beth; August 1, 2009;

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33, ESV)

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Eric and Beth this is a profound mystery! How is it that two people come together and promise to love one another for a lifetime? Well, unfortunately these days, although people make the promise they don’t seem to follow it through with the decision to stay married. But, what about you two and the mystery that we see right here between the two of you? Well, today it feels great… all those swirling feelings of joy, and happiness; the tears that always happen as you prepare for this very moment as you stand here together. I’ve heard it said the “Love is a feeling.” We talked about that during your pre-marital counseling. Really we should say that love contains feelings. Love itself is not a feeling. Love is a decision. Today that decision is easy, surrounded by friends and family with all the trappings for royalty. But there will be times when it will be difficult to love each other… even times when you don’t even like each other. But today you are promising that you’ll love each other anyway. And hey, your not promising me, you can fool me… your not promising your families, you can even fool them. You’re promising God, and no matter what you do you can’t fool him.

So just what are you promising anyway… Beth will you submit to him, love honor and keep in sickness and health, as long as you live… That’s a pretty tall order. I wonder how you’re going to actually be able to do that? Eric, love your wife as Christ loved the church… have and hold, sickness, health, till death… again how in the world are you (Eric) and you (Beth) going to be able to do that? The truth of the matter is that you can’t. And it’s not just you it’s all of us. None of us can keep promises like that. And you know why? It’s because of that couple we read about in the first reading. Adam and Eve. You see God had a perfect plan of love for them. A plan was that a man and a woman would be husband and wife. He set it up in the very beginning. He created Adam and Eve to be in a perfect relationship with Him. Everything they did reflected that relationship. They saw God in each other. That’s what it means when the bible says they were in the “image of God.” Not that they looked like him, but that their relationship with God spilled over into their relationship for each other. They had a perfect love for one another.

And we know that perfect love didn’t last. We know all about the tree, the fruit, the serpent, and the sin. Adam and Eve severed their relationship with God and lost the perfect love they had for each other. Now they didn’t see God in each other anymore. They became selfish, instead of loving.

It’d be nice to be able to put all the blame we have for our imperfect relationships on Adam and Eve. But we could just as easily put our names in their place. Our relationships are not the perfect love that God intended for man and wife. That’s difficult for a couple to see or even believe on their wedding day. But it’s true, and you’ll see it soon enough. But, God wasn’t satisfied with that. He did something about our broken relationships.

Eric and Beth, turn around just a moment, and look at your friends and family gathered here. Did you know that these two are a picture of God has done about sin. These two are a picture of Jesus Christ and all of us, who believe in Him? At least that’s what this passage from St. Paul is really all about. He says that husbands should love their wives like Christ loved the church. Here’s Eric, standing in for Jesus, loving Beth giving himself for her. That means that it’s his job to take care of her. Everything he does is to be for her benefit, for her protection and care. That is after all just what Jesus did. He gave himself, completely for us. He lived His life completely for our benefit. He even died for us, to free us from sin death and hell, to restore our broken relationship to God. And just look at Beth standing here in this beautiful white dress. St. Paul says the Jesus presents us to God cleansed and holy, pure and white. It’s the blood of Jesus that makes us clean. His blood shed on the cross cleans us for the sin that permeates all our relationships. His death on the cross brings forgiveness to us by removing the punishment that should be ours. So God no longer considers us guilty. He sees us just as we see Beth today. That’s what makes it possible for us to forgive one another. If Jesus Christ has died to make us pure and holy in God’s sight what right to we have to say that we are not. (you can turn around again).

Eric and Beth you’ve come here today to make your promises to each other in the sight of God and all these witnesses. You asked me to do this wedding because you know that if you make them on your own they really don’t mean very much. You both know that you will fail each other. And every failure will make your marriage more difficult. All of your best intentions won’t solve the problems that you will face as a couple. But again, you know about that and that’s why you are here. You are here to found your marriage on the forgiveness won for you in Jesus Christ. In a way you are really letting Him stand right here between you. So He can take your hands and join them together when you don’t want to. He’s here so you can look for solutions to the problems that come up instead of re-hashing who’s fault it is the bills didn’t get paid. What Jesus Christ gives you is forgiveness. And that forgiveness will spill out into your relationship with each other. Another way to think about it is this: In your marriage, because Jesus Christ is right here, because He has declared that your are forgiven, the most important words you can say to each other won’t really be “I love you” but “I forgive you!”

Eric, God loves you. Beth, God loves you. He wants you to live every day in the forgiveness that He won for you through Jesus Christ on the cross. So every day, remember this image, of Jesus the groom, and us His bride. Remember that your marriage is built on Jesus Christ. Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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