“You set Our Hearts Rejoicing!” A Marriage Sermon at Bethlehem, June 19, 2010
The Marriage of Angela Joy McClain and Mister Phillips
Bethlehem Lutheran Church West 12th Street, Oakland, CA
Saturday, June 19th 2010 at 12 noon
The Marriage at Cana, Genesis 2:7-8,18-24 1Cor. 13
You Set our Hearts Rejoicing
How wonderful, Angela and Mister, that we can celebrate your wedding here at Bethlehem! It sets our hearts rejoicing and we can sing out God’s praises, saying, “Come to Bethlehem and see!”
That you place God first and with Joshua of old you say, “As for Angela and me [or Angela would say], as for Mister and me, our house will serve the Lord! That sets our hearts rejoicing. That you honor your parents and grandparents with gratitude, and say, “none of our days, including this one, would be possible without them!” that fills our hearts with rejoicing.
That you have brought Pastor Robert Young, Pr. Richard and me together for you celebration, sets our hearts rejoicing.
And it is the marriages of your parents and grandparents that gave you the shelter of the Love of God you could count on, that they too pledged their life-long faithfulness – that sets our hearts rejoicing.
Now the way St. Paul’s love poem in First Corinthians begins, that is, really with the last verse of chapter 12, “Now I will show you a more excellent way:” we can say, “Now I will show you a more excellent marriage, a marriage made in heaven.”
That marriage is the fruit of inviting Jesus Christ to your marriage and celebration, just like when we prayed: “As you gladdened the wedding at Cana in Galilee, by the presence of your Son, so by his presence now bring joy to this wedding.” Fill this marriage with joy! The real and holy presence of Jesus Christ will gladden your marriage and in his holy presence, you will be rejoicing in all the gifts given you by the Holy Spirit, “until at length, we all celebrate with Christ the marriage feast which has no end.”
Now what gives you a more excellent marriage is the excellent source of your love for one another. The love and compassion shown us by God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, keeps replenishing and renewing the love you have for each other, because we know “How great God’s faithfulness is; it is new every morning,” when we step out into the sunshine of a new day, see the sparkle of the world God made, and realize the wonder of a man and a woman finding each other and loving each other and getting to know each other, for which a life-time, you know, is not even long enough to do and fulfill.
Men and women are so marvelously made and oh so different, but as the French say, “Viva la difference!” before getting transported back to the Garden of Eden, let me just say that the source of fresh and new love is Jesus Christ and him crucified. So this love endures all things, bears all things, believes all things. This love never fails. A thousand couples may divorce at your side and ten thousand at you right side, but your marriage will not fail. This love endures the cross. This love forgives. Right from the cross Jesus said, “Father forgive them they know not what they do.”
In a marriage you get close and we are all sinners fallen short of the glory of God, so sometimes we can’t help hurting each other. Ah, but the excellent love of Christ is filled with forgiveness. Never let the sun go down on your anger. Make up, and enjoy your sweet reconciliation as married couples know how to do.
It is sacrificial love to be sure, that Christ gives us, not some shallow love. You know the story about the little farm boy who was sick? The chicken and the pig want to help and console him. “I know” said the chicken, “We can give him a breakfast – ham and eggs.” The little pig jumped up and down. “What a good idea!” The he came to his senses and said, “Hey, you only have to lay an egg, but the ham will have to come out of my side!” Dying to yourself, self denial, and love always go together. The more excellent marriage has that excellent love derived from laying down our lives for each other, like Christ and him crucified. That’s why at the marriage of Cana, Jesus says, “My hour has not yet come.” This unconditional love renews your marriage love. It gives you a marriage built on a rock. So when your love runs out, like the old wine, Jesus changes the water of your relationship into the new wine, saving the best for last.
That is the source of the love that St. Paul celebrates in first Corinthians 13 and the love that will sustain your marriage so that you grow and mature in the stature of Christ, till you no longer walk in the shadows, as seeing through a mirror dimly, but face to face in a marriage alive and growing in the living three-dimensional adventure of the Gospel.
Don’t forget that when God brought Eve to Adam in the Garden of Eden, his heart skipped a beat at her loveliness and beauty, and he said, “Truly this is bone of mine bone and flesh of my flesh – and God joined them together in a life-long companionship, in which they were one. Mister, if you should argue with Angela, remember that she was taken from your side and her side is really your side, how are you going to argue with that? And you belong with each other and not to each other, that’s why God took her out of Adam’s side, so that you stand by each other as life-long companions, side by side.
And you shall become one, one heart and soul together. Here we need some arithmetic. For marriage you need multiplication, not addition. 1 + 1 = 2 and you have to be one. ½ + ½ = 1, but a man and woman are not half persons, each of you need to be whole persons, side by side. The old rigid sex roles don’t work anymore. You have to be flexible nowadays to make it. Sure we know that God took Eve out of Adam, but every woman knows that ever since, everyone was a baby taken out of the woman. Eve means the mother of all the living in Hebrew and Adam means man. God said, “Be fruitful and multiply.” So one times one equals one, and then in addition all kinds of little ones. How do you like that for marriage math?
We had several marital counseling sessions together. We talked about Jungian triangles and triangulation. Like a triangle does not have to be another person. For me it was the church. For a while my church work was more important to me that my wife. I know a pastor who did church visits while his wife was having a baby. That’s a triangle. She asked me how my day was, but I did not ask her about her day. Your love has to be reciprocal, mutual. We got into trouble and went to counseling for help. Don’t be proud. If you need help in your relationship, get counseling. Forgive each other the way Jesus taught us to do. Remember that to love is the most important command that Jesus left us and the good news is that by God’s grace, his love is poured into your hearts, so you can’t help loving each other.
Ah, Angela and Mister, all of us at Bethlehem Lutheran and Providence Missionary Baptist Church are scrambling for the words to express how much we rejoice in the love and happiness that you have found in each other, and that you know the source of that love, that you understand how important the forgiveness of sins is for a lasting relationship, that you know Christ and him crucified, that you receive the miraculous new wine in the body and blood of Christ, and you know Christ, and him raised from the dead, and you understand that the Gospel gives you a marriage made in heaven – Angela and Mister, you truly set our hearts rejoicing. Amen.
Pastor Peter Krey