Saturday, August 4, 2018

Holy Marriage of Megan Sherburne & Shane Wallace

Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:1-2, 22-33; Genesis 2:7, 18-24

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Every Christian marriage is a reflection of the first marriage, instituted by God, in Eden, before our First Parents’ sinful rebellion. An important thing to take note of concerning that first marriage is that marriage was created, instituted, and blessed by God. Today we like to twist and bend language so that words mean different things or nothing at all, but twist and bend as we may, we cannot change what marriage truly is as God created and instituted it in the beginning. Indeed, God created the man and the woman whom He joined together in marriage. Adam didn’t have to go out and find his wife, his “soul mate,” but God presented her to him, and at once he recognized her as his own flesh and bone, in a near literal sense. “Therefore,” says the LORD, “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
Now, there is no human equation where 1 + 1 = 1. Thus, St. Paul says of marriage, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church.” Yes, in a mysterious way, the vows you, Shane and Megan, make this day before God and this congregation, and the marriage union you enter into one with the other, is a reflection, if dimmed and tarnished by sin, of Christ’s one-flesh union with His Bride, the Church. Thus, the love you have for each other is analogous to the love that Christ has for His Bride, the Church. And, this is what that love looks like and does: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church, His body, and is Himself its Savior.” “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for Her, that He might sanctify Her…. […] In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.”
You see, the kind of love God has called you to and promises to bless you with is a sacrificial love – a love that lays down it’s selfish wants and desires, even it’s self, for the sake of the beloved. That is how God has loved you and all the world – selflessly and sacrificially, even to the point of becoming flesh and blood and dying the death we all deserved in our place that we might live. This is not the love of warm feelings and romantic comedies, but a love that loves even when that love is not returned, even when that love, at times, seems unloving and causes pain and sorrow. Now, if you are thinking to yourself, “I can’t love like that!” that’s a good thing, because you truly cannot. And, that is precisely why your being married here, in Christ’s Church, before His altar, is so incredibly special and important. For, this ceremony isn’t primarily about tradition, or reverence, or just simply the way we do things, but this ceremony is first and foremost about Jesus’ forgiveness, grace, and blessing. God loved us before we could love Him in return, and He forgave us in Jesus Christ before we could ask His forgiveness. Truly, it is with God’s love for us that husbands love their wives, and wives their husbands. And, similarly, it is with God’s forgiveness that we are able to forgive each other. Today you are asking God’s blessing upon your one-flesh union. He will bless it, and He will make you a blessing to others. For, when we love and forgive each other we reflect the image of Christ who loved and forgave, and still loves and forgives, His Bride, the Church.
If you are hearing me correctly you will understand that love is not primarily a feeling, but sacrifice. And, because of our sinful flesh, marriage takes work, patience, and a whole lot of forgiveness and sacrifice. It is important, it is crucial, that you keep Jesus Christ at the center of your marriage, that you attend the Divine Service regularly and receive the forgiveness of your sins and the strengthening of your faith. For, you can only give of Jesus’ gifts. You can only love with Jesus’ love. And you can only forgive with Jesus’ forgiveness. You know this, Megan, for you made it clear to Shane from the beginning that you were willing to sacrifice your relationship, your marriage, rather than neglect or compromise your faith. And Shane, you were willing to sacrifice yourself for Megan and submit to catechesis, ultimately being baptized and confirmed in the same confession and faith as your bride. I have to say, you are off to a good start! That’s the kind of selfless, sacrificial love that will sustain your marriage through both good times and bad times, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part.
Another thing that you got right, Shane, is that you asked both Megan’s father and mother for permission to marry their daughter. You could have simply told them you were going to get married; that’s the way many do it today. But, no, you felt it important, respectful, and right to seek their blessing. This is good, right, and salutary because it is not just that you and Megan become a new family today, but the Wallace and Sherburne families become a new family today. By asking their permission, you honor your father and your mother, and you honor God, thinking of others before and above yourself in selfless, sacrificial love.
After joining our First Parents in holy marriage, God blessed them that they would be fruitful in love, bearing children whom they would teach in the ways of the LORD, and in showing selfless, sacrificial love to others to the glory of His Name. In the procreation of children, you will be blessed to participate with God in His ongoing work of creation. Truly, in the procreation of children, God’s blessing of fruitfulness is further manifest as now, husband and wife, father and mother, share together a mutual object upon whom to shower their selfless, sacrificial love, a love that is creative, always giving life to others.
Now, I’ve talked a lot about the sacrificial, selfless nature of love, thinking more of the needs and welfare of others above and before yourself. However, there is another aspect of this love that isn’t discussed much and is easily overlooked, and yet it is the most important and sacred of all. Shane and Megan, this day you pledge yourself to love, honor, and keep each other emotionally and physically, but also spiritually. What I mean is that, Shane, you are making a covenant promise this day to love, honor, and keep Megan, body and soul, until the day she or you dies in the Lord. Likewise, Megan, you are making a covenant promise this day to love, honor, and keep Shane, body and soul, until the day he or you dies in the Lord. I want you to understand deeply, profoundly, the promise and responsibility you pledge yourself to this day. This day you marry a Christian soul purchased in the blood of Jesus for eternal life with Him in heaven. Today you pledge to preserve that soul in Christ with everything that you have and with everything you are, with the Holy Spirit’s help, until death do you part. Your marriage, blessed by God, is a sacred trust and covenant promise. As Blake Shelton has put it, “God gave me you.”
Shane, God gave you Megan to love selflessly and sacrificially as your own body. Megan, God gave you Shane from whom to receive this holy love and to return it to him to the glory of God. No longer think of yourselves as two, but as one flesh, one body, one in Christ. And the LORD bless you and keep you and make you fruitful in selfless, sacrificial love towards one another and towards all to the glory of His Name. Today you have asked His blessing. Today He blesses you, and He makes you to be a blessing.
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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