WEDDING SERMON - APRIL 21, 2012
PIERA CHRISTIANSEN AND AARON SIEGMANN
1 JOHN 4:7-12
LOVE IS FROM GOD
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Love is from God – In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Dear Aaron and Piera. What in heaven’s name does the word “propitiation” have to do with your wedding day?  I’m glad you asked – well sort of - by way of choosing this text to be read today!  The word “propitiation” is also translated as “atoning sacrifice.”  It implies “complete satisfaction.”  The Greek and Hebrew words behind it mean “mercy seat” – the cover of the Ark of the Covenant where once a year the High Priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice in atonement for the sins of the people. This very same word is used earlier in 1 John where Jesus Christ the righteous is described as our advocate with the Father. Then is written, He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).

 

WEDDING SERMON - APRIL 21, 2012
PIERA CHRISTIANSEN AND AARON SIEGMANN
1 JOHN 4:7-12
LOVE IS FROM GOD
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Love is from God – In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Dear Aaron and Piera. What in heaven’s name does the word “propitiation” have to do with your wedding day?  I’m glad you asked – well sort of - by way of choosing this text to be read today!  The word “propitiation” is also translated as “atoning sacrifice.”  It implies “complete satisfaction.”  The Greek and Hebrew words behind it mean “mercy seat” – the cover of the Ark of the Covenant where once a year the High Priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice in atonement for the sins of the people. This very same word is used earlier in 1 John where Jesus Christ the righteous is described as our advocate with the Father. Then is written, He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).

What in heaven’s name does the word “propitiation” have to do with your wedding day?  Well everything really - as you receive God’s gift of marriage in the name of Jesus Christ. No one would argue that the word “love” is closely connected with this day and with the joining of your two lives as one. The truth be told – there are thousands of definitions for love in this confused world.   

God, however, doesn’t offer a thousand definitions of love. What He does - is tie His definition of love to this word “propitiation.”  In another verse of 1 John we read “By this we know love, that he (Christ) laid down his life for us…(1 John 3:16). Jesus’ bloody sacrifice is the burning center of God’s love for us sinners. That means that the word “propitiation” is also at the burning center of true love. AndLove is from God. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us…

That’s why Scripture connects other beautiful words with God’s love - such as - steadfast – as in the Psalm you chose – How precious is your steadfast love, O God -  such as – everlasting - I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) - such as – great – God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4).

You see, Aaron and Piera – “propitiation” love – God’s forgiving love for you in Christ is central to the true and abiding love you are to give one another. Indeed – Aaron as you heard again from Ephesians chapter five it is the beating heart of your commitment to this one person until the day you die. You are to love Piera as Christ loved the Church and laid His life down for her. Where will that strength come from?  Not from your good intentions or will power or innate strength. But don’t despair – for Love is from God – and the risen, living Christ comes among His gathered people each week to love them – to give them the fruits of His “propitiation.”

What does the word “propitiation” have to do with your wedding day?  It is what has made each of you alive in Christ Jesus – for by grace you have been saved. You are not marrying a person who is dead in their trespasses but one is baptized into the death of Christ and is born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. You are not marrying a person who believes they are the answer to your problems and in charge of their life but one who hungers and thirsts for the righteousness of Christ - for His forgiveness food – for the very body and the very blood He offered in His atoning sacrifice. You are marrying one who lives from participation in the body and the blood of Him who is our propitiation.

Because Jesus is the propitiation for your sins – you have the answer to the agitation and the irritation and the aggravation and the frustration and the desire for retaliation that will come in your life together. Today, Piera, you marry the genuine article – a real sinner. Today, Aaron, you marry the genuine article – a real sinner. Thank God you both confess and seek healing from another genuine article – the real Savior. Indeed, there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

Because Jesus is the propitiation for your sins – you have the ongoing answer you will need for the temptation to alienation and even adulteration in your marriage. We sinners are so sensitive. Our default setting is self-justification. We can excuse ourselves and find fault with another as easily as taking a breath. We can seek comfort in alienation rather than reconciliation. That is not what God gives you in one another on this day. What is yours - emotionally and physically - belongs to this one person and no one else until death parts you. Today for you two – by God’s initiation and configuration - one plus one equals one!

Because Jesus is the propitiation for your sins – Aaron - you have the needed resource for humiliation in this oneness. How much humbling are you as a husband to do?  Well – you are to love Piera as Christ loved the church in laying down His life for her. Recall that Jesus made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant. He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:7, 8). Surely your humiliation should include growing comprehension and confession of your sin - and in receiving God’s absolution – growing consideration that puts Piera and her needs first.  

Because Jesus is the propitiation for your sins – Piera – you have the needed resource for subordination in your marriage. The Greek word is hupatasso and in means to line up properly for battle. It is translated – “submit” in the declaration of intent you will soon make. The world misunderstands and mocks this beautiful word. It is not a word of inferiority. Indeed it is a word used of Jesus Himself as He lined up with the Father to do battle for us (1 Corinthians 15:7-8). You are to line up with the head God gives you today. Surely your subordination should include growing comprehension and confession of your sin - and in receiving God’s absolution – growing consideration that puts Aaron first.

So one last time - what in heaven’s name does the word “propitiation” have to do with your wedding day?  Wow!  Because Jesus is the propitiation for your sins – you have beautiful, solid reason for celebration today – and for consummation of this beautiful one flesh relationship which God gives as a picture of Christ’s love and union with us His Bride – the church. The gift He gives you today is a great gift - one to receive with joy and thanksgiving – that you have invited us to share with you today. But it is not God’s greatest gift to you.

The greatest gift of the “propitiation” that Jesus is - carries the anticipation of a far greater celebration and consummation than the joining of two lives and their families and their friends. The greatest gift is a wedding feast that has no end. Indeed, Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9).

Happily ever after – your bulletin cover says. That’s fairy tale language - even for marriages here on this earth – even for your marriage – for you will both say – until death parts us according to the will of God. But what Jesus has won for you – for us is no fairy tale. While you will not be husband and wife in the new heavens and the new earth – we will be the Bride of Christ. Whether married or single on this earth – the love that we will receive from Him eternally is more than we can know here. It is great love, steadfast love, perfect love, everlasting love!  

Happily ever after – forever and ever – world without end
– that is the reality of your loved ones who have died in Christ - with Christ in paradise – awaiting the bodily resurrection on the Last Day! Happily ever after – seeing Christ who shines like the sun – face to face – hearing the company of heaven sing the new song – Worthy is the Lamb who was slain…by your blood you have ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…(Revelation 5). Happily ever after – where everyone in Christ is first family – the family of God! Why? Because Love is from God. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

His open tomb throws beautiful light on the burning core of His love for us (pointing to the crucifix). Alleluia!  Christ is risen!  He has risen indeed! Alleluia!

God bless you in His Name. Amen.

 

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