The Sermon for the Wedding of Rachel Batchelor and Brian Brogan
Colossians 3:12-14; Psalm 127:1-5; Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:22-33; Revelation 19:1, 5-19
Zion Lutheran Church, East Moline, IL
Brian … Rachel … when I learned about the Bible passages that you chose for this day, I thought, "Wow, the two of you have chosen some really good passages concerning marriage."
In the passage that you chose from Colossians, the Apostle Paul encourages us to have compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience - to put on love above all things. The love that Paul talks about here is that agapé style love - the love that loves when things are not lovely - even when we don't feel like loving.
The psalmist teaches us that the Lord is the one who truly builds your house. He is the source of all the blessings that come your way.
Matthew recalls the words of Jesus Himself as He reminds us that God created marriage for a man and a woman to spend a lifetime together. There are people who say that love for a lifetime is no longer practical now that people live so much longer than they did back then. Such people forget that Jesus was quoting from the time of creation before man fell into sin and Adam and Eve had a life expectancy of forever.
The passage that you chose from Ephesians tells us that wives are to submit to their husbands and that husbands are to sacrifice their entire being for the good of their wives. These words are not politically correct in this age of narcissism. Never the less, they are the words of the Apostle Paul as inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Finally, there is that glorious passage from the Last Day - a passage from the vision Jesus gave to John the Apostle. This passage tells of the wedding feast of the Lamb. It is one of many passages in Holy Scripture that tell how marriage is a picture of the communion between Christ and His Bride, the Church.
The passages are pretty impressive. They set a pretty high standard. In fact, there are husbands and wives who have a little bit of experience among your guests and right now some of them are thinking something like this, "Those passages don't just set a high standard. They set an impossible standard. There is no way that anyone on this earth could live up to those passages." You know what? They're right. We in our human frailties can't live up to those standards. In fact, we can't live up to any of the standards that God sets before us - let alone these high standards of marriage.
That is the reason that what you are doing today is so important. You are not just getting married, but you are getting married in the house of God. You are getting married in the place where Jesus reveals Himself to His people and gives His gifts to them. That means that today, you are getting married as the guests of Jesus Himself. Although we cannot see Him, we know He is with us. For He has promised: [Matthew 18:20] "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."
You are not only guests of Jesus here at your wedding, but He wants to be in your marriage as well. He is here today to give you His special blessings and He desires to continue blessing you throughout your married life. He has gifts for you that just keep on giving.
The fact of the matter is that every life has its ups and downs. Right now, on this day, the two of are aglow with the emotions of the moment. Both of you are also realistic enough to know that there will be times when neither of you will live up to God's standard. Rachel, my dear darling daughter, there will be times when you will not be the ideal wife of the passages you have chosen for this day. Brian, my future son, there will be times when you fail to live up to your vocation as the caring, honoring, cherishing husband. It is at those times that Jesus gives you the most precious gift of all. He gives you the gift you need the most.
What you need, on that day and every day really, is the Savior from sin. He is eager to give you forgiveness on a daily basis. He earned that forgiveness long ago as He sacrificed Himself for you on the cross. He certified that forgiveness as He rose from the dead. With that sacrifice, He took away all your sins. He has made you holy in His sight.
Rachel … Brian … on those days when you do not live up to the passages you have chosen on this day, Jesus forgives you. He makes you holy. Jesus says, "I love you," in a very special way. He says to you, "My child, I forgive you. I have taken your sin away. Even though you have sinned, you are righteous in my sight." That is how He says, "I love you."
The wonderful thing about this forgiveness is that it is not limited. Jesus describes His generosity with these words: He said, [Luke 6:38] "Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap." When Jesus gives forgiveness, not only is there enough for us, but there is also more than enough for us to share with others. He not only gives us the gift of forgiveness, but He also gives forgiveness to us so that we can forgive others.
Paul tells us as much in the passage you chose from Colossians. In that passage, Paul says, "[Bear] with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, [forgive] each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." Just as Jesus forgives you, He also gives you the ability to forgive each other. This is an incredible gift. When you say, "I forgive you," you are saying, "I love you. You are still my beloved wife, my beloved husband." The forgiveness that Christ gives to you and the forgiveness that Christ gives through you will give you the strength to face whatever comes your way. This is the gift that Jesus gives to you as you begin your marriage in His presence as His guest.
Just as Jesus loves you and forgives you and is pleased to host your wedding on this day, He also wants to be with you every day. It is His joy to give you the forgiveness that He earned for you with His death on the cross. It is His desire to work through you to give the gift of forgiveness to each other. His forgiveness, the gift of His love, is His gift to you, Brian and Rachel- to you and to all who believe on the name of the savior who is here today and will be with you all the days of your life. This is the gift from Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior. Amen
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