Sunday, August 8, 2021

Holy Matrimony of Spencer Richard Warehime & Nicole Rae Geisemann


Matthew 19:4-6; Colossians 3:12-17; Genesis 2:7


In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Every marriage has a beginning: A first glance; a first smile; a first date; a first kiss; etc. For Spencer and Nicole, it all began at the Registrar’s Office at Wartburg when a rather forward young man passed an Add/Drop card to the smiling young lady behind the desk saying, “DROP: All other plans” and “ADD: A date with me at Duo’s.” He’d caught her eye before. She thought he was cute, and that mustache! Obviously, he’d noticed her as well. “Her hair was like a flock of goats,” he thought, recalling the words of the Song of Solomon. She scribbled something on a sticky-note, placed it on the card and handed it back to him. It was her phone number. “YES!” Well, that first date finally came, but it wasn’t at Duo’s, but at Hy-Vee over mediocre Chinese food. However, the location and the food didn’t really matter as they sat and talked for over an hour and the first buds of a relationship began to develop and grow, the fruit of which we are celebrating this very day. Every marriage has a beginning, often very humble, mundane, and ordinary. The LORD works in unexpected ways, but He brings together His children and He blesses them, and He makes them to be a blessing.

Faith was important to them from the beginning, and it wasn’t long before Spencer and Nicole were worshiping together on Sunday morning here at St. John, along with a good number of other Wartburg students and a surprisingly strong representation from the Cross-Country team. After Bible study they could usually be found at Dell’s Diner where they talked about what they had heard at church and other things. In this way, as their relationship began to grow, so did they grow together in their faith. Spencer and Nicole, I remember several conversations with the two of you in my office when you had questions about God’s Word, particularly as it pertained to your relationship. I want you to know how much I respect you and am grateful to God for you for seeking counsel in His Word. And I know that you have continued to seek that counsel as you have prepared for this day, learning from God’s Word about forgiveness and sacrifice, how you can serve each other and submit to each other and encourage each other, and about the importance of having a prayer life and a devotional life in marriage. This is a solid foundation on which you will build and grow even as you are built and grown by the Lord. Marriage isn’t always easy, but it is good, and with Christ at its center it will endure, and it will grow and bear much fruit.

Spencer, you told me that Ephesians chapter five was important to you as well as the Table of Duties from the Small Catechism. Indeed, in such passages the Lord describes and prescribes the godly vocations of husband and wife, father and mother, parents and children, and more. These vocations, indeed, all vocations, begin with humility and love, selflessness and sacrifice, and fear, love, and trust in God above all things. The Epistle lesson you together selected from Colossians chapter three is loaded with St. Paul’s exhortations to godly living that are both descriptive and prescriptive of Christian faith and life and of Christian marriage: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing with one another, forgiving one another, harmony, peace, thankfulness, and more. It’s not an exhaustive list. You have surely noticed that these qualities are all selfless, not selfish, in that they flow outward from the self towards others and not inwards towards the self. These qualities are by their very nature selfless and sacrificial. They are qualities that flow from love because they are the qualities of God, who is love, Himself, and of Jesus Christ who is the love of God incarnate.

These selfless, sacrificial, and loving qualities were endowed in the very first marriage in Paradise when God brought together the man and the woman He had created and joined them in the one-flesh union of Holy Marriage. God blessed them and He blessed their union that they should be fruitful with His selfless, sacrificial love. Truly, God blessed us all with marriage so that we could know more fully and truly the kind of love and the kind of relationship He wills to have with us. God doesn’t merely will for His creatures to worship Him as our Creator, but He wills to selflessly and sacrificially love us, and for us to selflessly and sacrificially love Him in return; He wills to marry us; and He wills to make us fruitful, together with Him, with the fruits of His love. Now, the first marriage was instituted before our first parents introduced sin into the world, which has made a royal mess of everything and which continues to produce endless suffering and misery. Nevertheless, marriage after the Fall is still a divine, holy, and sacred union and proving ground in which we can learn selflessness and sacrifice, where we can learn to love like God and as God, as we sacrifice ourselves, our selfish wills, and our self-serving desires for our beloved, and as we bear with and endure in patience those times our love is not reciprocated by forgiving and gratefulness for the loving forgiveness of God we ourselves have received but not deserved. Truly, it is in this way, and in this way alone, that the equation 1 + 1 = 1 is valid and true. Each of you, Spencer and Nicole, in selfless and sacrificial love for God and for each other, this day are no longer two, but you are one. Your marriage is to be a reflection, even if tarnished and dimmed by sin, of the perfect, true, and holy marriage of Christ and His Bride the Church.

It is God who has brought you together, just as He first brought Adam and Eve together. People talk about “soul mates” as if your soul mate is someone that you have to go out there in the world and find. I think that is inadequate at best, and plainly false at worst. You did not go out there and find each other any more than Adam had to go out and find Eve. You were brought together, by God, through the myriad, maze-like, life paths you followed, your vocations, informed by God’s word and by prayer, that have brought you to where you are. No, your soul mate is not the one you go out and find, but your soul mate is the one that God brings you to and, in Holy Marriage, you pledge yourself to guard and keep, not only their body and life, but their holy soul purchased and cleansed in the blood of Jesus, unto death parts you. Yes! You are not merely pledging your love and faithfulness to a person this day, but you are pledging your love and faithfulness to a person created by God in His image and redeemed in the blood of God’s Son Jesus Christ. You are pledging your love and faithfulness not merely to a body, but to an immortal soul as well. What I mean is this: Spencer, this day you pledge to be the guardian and protector of Nicole, of both her body and her soul. Likewise, Nicole, this day you pledge to be the guardian and protector of Spencer, of both his body and his soul. You have the authority and the sacred responsibility of guarding and protecting each other through life, unto death, into life that cannot die. As the Lord has given you each to the other as a helpmate and has blessed you to be bone of bone and flesh of flesh in a one flesh union, so will you in faithfulness serve each other in life and deliver each other back to the Lord when He calls. “What God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Spencer and Nicole, when I asked you what you were looking forward to in marriage, you answered, “to see each other more,” “to be together,” and “to set goals together.” On the one hand, marriage will certainly deliver each of these to you, whether you desire them or not. On the other hand, these are mature, healthy, and sensible desires and goals. Moreover, I have witnessed you practicing these things already as you charted the course through college, made job choices while considering Spencer attending seminary, deciding to take a year off to get things in order, right down to the plans you made for this very day. These things you did together, through give and take, patience and understanding, charity and grace, and with not a small amount of forgiveness I am certain. The Lord bless you and guide you by His word and Spirit as you go forward as husband and wife.

In closing, I leave you to reflect upon these words from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians which you have selected to be read today: “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. […] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Spencer and Nicole, always remember that your Holy Marriage, instituted and blessed by our Holy Triune God, is an icon, and image, of God’s own Divine Family – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As you sacrifice yourselves one for the other, two becoming one flesh, and as, if God should so bless you, you are fruitful and bear children – remember always the third partner in your marriage – your Lord Jesus Christ. It was God who brought Adam and Eve together because He desired for them to know the love and fulfillment of His own Divine Family. He is the love that binds you and makes you one flesh; and He has promised to be with you always. Call upon Him daily for your needs. Thank Him daily for your blessings. Make Him the Lord of your hearts and of your Holy Marriage – and He will bless you and your Holy Marriage. You will be fruitful. And your one flesh union will be “very good.”

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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