Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Homily for the Holy Marriage of Bruce Carl Balvanz & Ranae Lucia Clemen - November 30, 2018

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.
God instituted marriage in the beginning, when He created the heavens and the earth and all that fills them. He made man in His image. He formed Adam from the earth and enlivened him with His own spirit-breath. Then He formed the woman, Eve, from a rib taken from Adam’s side. When God presented the woman to the man Adam proclaimed, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,” for she literally was, “she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.”
After each of the six days of creation, God looked at what He had made and He declared it “good.” Thus, it is somewhat astonishing that following God’s creation of man in His image, God declared for the first time that something was not good – “It is not good that the man should be alone.” But, herein lies the answer to why there is something instead of nothing – because it is not good that the man should be alone, because it is not good that God should be alone. You see, God instituted marriage so that, through the one-flesh union of man and woman, husband and wife, we might know Him and the kind of love He has for us, and the kind of relationship He desires to have with us. Just as it was not good that God should be alone, so it is not good that man or woman should be alone. God’s solution to that problem was to make a woman for the man, out of his own flesh, that neither he nor she should be alone. This purpose of the LORD for marriage was stated a few moments earlier in the liturgy: “The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for the mutual companionship, help, and support that each person ought to receive from the other, both in prosperity and adversity.”
Now, that first marriage was perfect and holy, “instituted and blessed by God in Paradise, before humanity’s fall into sin.” However, we know the rest of that story, and we know that temptation and sin, and the fruits that they bear – guilt, resentment, anger, hurt, etc. – are a real part of our lives, and they are a real part of our marriages as well. We know all too well how what God has joined together in holy marriage is too often put asunder by man in divorce. And yet, chief among God’s purposes in marriage is that we might know the meaning of true love – love that is selfless and sacrificial, giving and forgiving – love like the love God has for us that moved Him to give us His life in the first place. Thus, it is possible that love that has been hurt and broken in the past can be redeemed, rekindled, renewed, and restored. And, it is possible that marriages that have been broken can be repaired, and that love can be even stronger and more pure and holy than before. For, God is gracious and merciful, and He delights in forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Jesus taught that there is rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents. Well, my brothers and sisters in Christ, there is rejoicing in heaven today over the re-union and re-marriage of Bruce and Ranae. They have asked that God would bless their marriage once again. He has, and He will, and He will make their marriage fruitful and a blessing to others as well to the glory of His Name.
Were mistakes made in the past? Surely there were. Now you are older and wiser. Moreover, you’ve come to see, to know, and to believe that God is merciful, gracious, and forgiving. The God who is love loves you, and He invites you to love each other with His love. God’s love is all those things that St. Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 13: “Love is patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” Such love is selfless and sacrificial. It always sees the best in the other and covers their sinful and hurtful failings. Such love readily forgives, drawing from the deep well of God’s forgiveness they themselves have received.
Bruce and Ranae, you have the makings of a wonderful and God-blessed marriage – not because of how good, how loving, how faithful, or how forgiving you are, but because of how good, loving, faithful, and forgiving your God is in Jesus Christ, and because you have honored Him by obeying His commandments and submitting to His will for your lives and for your marriage, and because you have made Him the center of your marriage and your life together. In this regard I exhort you to keep on doing what you’re doing. Keep on coming to the Divine Service together regularly to hear the Gospel and to receive the forgiveness of your sins in the Holy Absolution and in the Lord’s Supper. Pray together before meals and before bedtime and when you awake in the morning. Study the Lord’s Word together and console and encourage each other with it. Continue to remember the third partner in your marriage, your Lord, Savior, and Bridegroom Jesus Christ. He will continue to fill you with His love, His mercy, His grace, and His forgiveness. And, He will fill you to overflowing with these, His gifts that you will have an abundance to share with each other, and with others, to the glory of His Name. You have asked His blessing upon your marriage, and He will bless it, and He will make you a blessing to others to the glory of His Name. He who has begun this good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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