SERMON FOR THE AFFIRMATION AND BLESSING OF MARRIAGE FOR HAMISH AND ALLISON DICKSON, 5-18-2019
LUTHER MEMORIAL CHAPEL, SHOREWOOD, WI
Rev. Michael Larson
Well, this is it! This is the day you’ve all been waiting for. You’ve planned everything and thousand careful arrangements have all been made.
Many people will tell you that this is absolutely the most important day of your life! But guess what? It’s NOT.
Pastor, how dare you! How dare you say that? People have come from the other side of the world to be here! And just look at that beautiful dress! And the groomsmen and bridesmaids. And then the party later tonight. How can it not be the most important day of our lives?
Well, let’s just look at God’s Word. The climax – the high point of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth was the creation of man. God said, “Let US make man in our image – after our likeness – so in the image of God he created them – male and female he created them.” Two genders by the way. Even though you can pick from 58 genders on Facebook. As far as God’s concerned here there are only two – there are men and women – boys and girls – husbands and wives.
But let’s return here. Notice that God says, “Let US make man in our image.” Do notice the plural pronouns there – in the Bible. Let us – US - make man in our image. Us and Our. Just so you know, God is not having a personality disorder here. God is one but also three – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He, the triune God, is a community of loving persons. A communion of love who IS love and does all things out of love.
So man was made in this image – to love as God loves and to do as God does. To be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth and to exercise dominion over the earth. So all six days of the creation of the heavens and earth, God stepped back and each day, He said and declared, “It is good!” That rhythm (it is good!) is finally broken up when for the very first time, God said, “It is not good!” He saw the man, all alone, and observed that it was “not good.” It is not good for the man to be alone.
And why was it not good for the man to be alone? Well, this is why: In order for man to fully reflect the very image of God – he must have someone to love. And to love as God loves. To do as God does. With a love that is sacrificial, and self-giving, that he might also, like God, be fruitful and multiply – and fill the earth.
So Eve was created from Adam’s side, from his rib, to be closest to his heart. And God did it all while Adam slept. God brought Eve to the man, a beautiful and breathtaking bride, and Adam sang! He rejoiced: “At last bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” And he loved her. The two became one flesh. And they were both naked and not ashamed.
But you and I know that that wedding was not the end of the story. For we are sons and daughters of Adam too. And sons and daughters of Eve. And we know we’re not in paradise so much anymore. We all, every one of us, since that fall into sin, come from broken homes riddled with sin and rebellion.
For after the consummation of that first marriage, all hell broke loose when the devil showed up on the scene. Adam and Eve rose up in rebellion against the very God of love who made them. They gave in to temptation and sinned against one another, sinned against God, and so through sin death entered the world. Sin, and the devil, and shame, and corruption, it’s changed everything! So much so that they hid from God in a desperate attempt to cover their shame.
Not much has changed since in that sense. We’re still playing hide and seek with God. Sinning and rebelling and pretending we can hide from the very God of love who made us. But He won’t have it.
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All have turned away, that’s you and I, and everyone. So He promised to send a son, a second Adam, born of a virgin mother, to crush the serpent’s head, to offer up His life as a sacrifice for sin, to forgive us all, and reconcile us to God our Father and also to one another.
This second Adam, this new man, Christ Jesus, would make right what all went wrong after that first marriage. The saying is true. If you want a job done right, then just do it yourself! And that’s exactly what God Himself has done. He sent His Son Jesus, God in human flesh, into this fallen world of ours, corrupted by sin. And He Himself, The Lord, He took our sin, He took our shame, He took all our corruption into Himself. He suffered and died for us and was laid in a tomb. And by His glorious resurrection death and hell cracked under His feet, when His Father raised Him up from the dead. He now lives and reigns at the Father’s right hand for all eternity, bringing life and immortality to life for all who will believe.
Now, I know you’re all thinking, “Well, what sort of preacher is this! This is a strange wedding sermon. Where is the wedding sermon? Where is the advice? Where are the tips and advice and hacks for a healthy marriage? All he’s done is talk about sin and grace, and Jesus, and forgiveness.”
And guess what? That’s the whole point! For Hamish and Allision, and for each and every one of you. Because the most important day of your life, the day that truly matters is when God saved you. The most important day of your life – the most important day in the whole world, is when Jesus was on the cross taking away all your sins.
And this has everything to do with marriage! Because when you get married, it’s not so much the man or woman of your dreams. If you feel that way, good and fine, and you just go ahead and enjoy that, well, as long as you can. It’s fine for Hollywood and the movies. But the truth is, you’re marrying another sinner, just like yourself. Imperfect, deeply flawed, troubled and deeply sinful. Guess what? Just like yourself! And when you put two sinful people belly to belly, things get interesting! Quick!
And no amount of advice or tips or hacks are going to sustain that marriage in the long run. Because only Christ can do that. He is ultimately the true and heavenly bridegroom, to which the Christian husband looks, who lays down His life for His bride, the church. He serves her. He delights in her. He looks past her faults. He doesn’t even see them, but looks at her as radiant and holy, absolutely beautiful – a gift from God! Above all, He forgives her. He speaks gently to her and kindly to her. In fact, He gives His life for her.
In short, he’s a man! With his eyes fixed on the sacrificial and self-giving love of Jesus, in which a husband learns the sum and substance of love. Sacrifice.
Allison, and the Christian wife, receive the love of the husband, and bask in that love. In martial love, they withhold nothing from one another. The martial act reflects that in openness to all that God might do through them as they contemplate the profound mystery of marital love and fidelity – to be fruitful in the begetting of children and raising them in the Lord’s service.
The Christian husband and wife come to church on the Lord’s Day. They remember their baptisms. They repent and receive forgiveness. They receive the body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, and so learn and ponder God’s forgiveness which is and remains the very source and foundation of their wedded love. They say things like, “I’m sorry.” And they say, “Please forgive me.” And they say, “I forgive you and I love you.” And then they do it again, and again, and again, until our Lord’s glorious return.
So what’s the most important day for your life? Well, it’s the day when Jesus took away all your sins on the cross. When Jesus died and rose for you - that you might learn the meaning of love – and the very nature of God Himself. Joyful sacrifice. Self-giving and sacrificial love that goes to hell and back that He might call you His own.
This Jesus, oh, He’s made a beautiful vow and promise to you, to have and to hold you, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, and He pledges to you His faithfulness. To this vow. The Lord gives a resounding “I do.”
So this is what marriage is all about. The sacrificial love of Jesus. Nothing more and nothing less.
And the most important day of your life? Well, that’s got to be the day that Jesus pledged His love to you by taking away all your sins, and saying, “I do.”
So Hamish and Allision, husbands, and wives, and children. Christians and non-Christians. Return to the Lord who made you and loved you! Learn again the secret of joy in this life: that Christ Jesus is our bridegroom, who lays down His life for His bride, the church!
That all might stand up in royal dress on the day of the resurrection of all flesh, and stand gladly before Jesus, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And say, on that great wedding day: “This is our God. This is the day we’ve all been waiting for.” In the name of Jesus. Amen.