Dear Anna and Brady, the day is finally here. So many things have happened since we first met that it seems as though this day has just rushed upon us. But here we are in God's house. Here we are, ready to make the promises that will join the two of you together for a lifetime.
By holding your service here you ask God to bless your life together. You placed the Lord Jesus Christ first on your list of guests. You asked him to witness the promises the two of you will make to each other. In a way, you have borrowed the words from the common table prayer, "Come Lord Jesus, be our guest."
In another way of thinking though, it is the two of you who are the guests; for it is God Himself who hosts your wedding here on this day. He hosts your wedding to day just as He hosted the first wedding so long ago - the wedding that we heard about in the reading from Genesis.
The reading from Genesis tells how God was not a mere guest at the first wedding, but He created and sanctified the first marriage. As the book of Genesis begins, things were good. The light was good. The earth and seas were good. The plants and trees were good. The Sun and moon were good. The animals that swim and fly were good. The animals of the earth were good. Then, at the end of the chapter, God saw everything that he had made and behold, it was very good. Six times, God declares that things were good and the seventh time, he declares that things were very good. It is not until we arrive at today's reading from Genesis that we learn that anything might not be good. This reading says, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." Then we read that the LORD brought all the animals to Adam and although Adam exercised authority over them by naming them, none of them was suitable to be his helper. Then God anesthetized Adam and used one of his ribs to make a woman. Then he brought her to Adam. Adam immediately recognized that this woman was suitable in what might be the first poem,
"This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."
This is Adam's way of saying, "Wow!"
Moses then closed this episode with these words from God, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Here God establishes marriage, a union between one man and one woman, a union that is so intimate that they become one flesh, a union that was intended to last forever. So we see that from the beginning of time men and women have been joining in marriage and telling each other, "You are God's gift to me."
So today, you, Anna, have come before God and these people to tell Brady that he is God's gift to you and you, Brady, have also come before God and these people to tell Anna that she is God's gift to you. In a few minutes, you will exchange your vows and I will pronounce you to be husband and wife. This day will be full of joy, celebration, and happiness. By the end of this day, you will probably be very tired and your nerves might be shot, but you will be very happy. If every day of your marriage would be as full of happiness as this day is, I could end my sermon now, but we all know that no story in this world ends with the words: "and they lived happily ever after."
As you walk down this road of life together, there will be challenges. While there will be times of health and wealth there will also be times of sickness and scarcity. There will be times when the future looks bright and times when it looks as black as night. You see, even though God gave that first couple the wedding gift of the entire world, they wanted more. Satan told the first couple that he too wanted to give them a wedding present, a present that would make them like God, but when they opened it, they found only sin, darkness, and death. Their greed broke the joyful union between God and Man. Their greed made it impossible for any couple to live happily ever after on this planet. So while you can expect to have times of great happiness and joy, there will also be times of sorrow and grief. Sin will try to separate you from God, from each other, and from the other people that you love. Sin will try to separate you forever.
That's the reason that today's Gospel is so important. It tells us that several thousand years after the first wedding, God was a guest at another wedding. The God who created man and woman took on their human nature and lived with them. The God who sanctified the first wedding chose to reveal himself to his bride, the church, at this wedding in Cana. When he chose to replenish the wine supply, he not only redeemed that wedding from an embarrassing situation, but he also continued his mission to redeem all of mankind. This mission would ultimately lead him to the cross where he would shed his blood and die to pay for the sins of all mankind. His death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead provide the forgiveness we need to heal our relationship with God. The God who revealed himself at the wedding in Cana, sacrificed himself to cement the relationship between God and us.
Now, here we are two thousand years after God revealed himself at that wedding in Cana and the two of you are here as His guests. It is here that we look to the wisdom that lies in that passage from Ecclesiastes that I recently read. Specifically, we look at the last phrase: - a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
In this passage, God speaks through Solomon and asks us to imagine that each of us is a thread. If we try to handle stress by ourselves, we can easily snap. When two of us come together and support each other, there is more strength. With three people there is even more. When the first strand is Jesus Christ, the relationship is unbreakable.
When Jesus Christ is the first strand of a marriage, it becomes more like a muscle. Life may challenge it and bend it and stretch it and try to tear it apart, but in the end, when the pain of the challenge is gone and the relationship recovers, it will be stronger than ever. With Jesus Christ as your first strand, challenges will not tear you apart, but they will build you up. With Jesus Christ as your first strand, all the love and forgiveness of God is available to your relationship. When you think about the loving sacrifice Jesus made to redeem you, it will become easier for you to forgive each other. With Jesus Christ as your first strand, the commitment you two make today will grow and mature into something beyond your understanding.
These guests that you have invited to your wedding will celebrate with you today, but eventually they will go to their own homes. When Jesus Christ is your first strand, he never leaves you. He will support you and strengthen you. He will protect you in all your ways and, when the end approaches, when death finally comes to part you, the parting will be short lived, for Christ is stronger than death and he will lead you to life everlasting.
How wonderful it is that God gives us these marvelous words to consider on this special day in your lives. He guides and comforts us with words that tell how he created and sanctified marriage, with words that tell how he provides for all our needs especially where we fall short, and with words that tell us how deeply He desires to be an intimate part of our lives. May these words bless and strengthen your union throughout the days and years to come. In Jesus Name. Amen
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