Saturday, June 7, 2014

Sermon -- The Wedding of Robert McFarlane and Lindsey Vermillion (June 7, 2014)

ISAIAH 61:10

In the name + of Jesus.

     It used to be that people spoke of coming to church in their Sunday best.  They had one suit or one dress, their best one, reserved for coming to God’s house and entering God’s presence.  You have come here today into God’s house and into God’s presence.  And you have done better than your Sunday best.  Lindsey, I suspect that you logged a few hours looking for the right dress for today.  Bob, you probably took more time getting fitted for your tux than it takes you to get dressed all week.  You have even invested a chunk of money to have photographs of yourselves in your wedding garments.  It is your wedding day.  It is probably the best you will ever be dressed. 
     This is not unique to American culture.  As it is for you, so it was for the Israelite bride and groom.  Their wedding day was as lavishly as they would ever be dressed.  The bride would even borrow jewels to adorn herself.  They would cover up their blemishes.  They would douse themselves in perfumes.  It was as good as they would ever look.
     Now, I suppose we could be flippant and suggest that it is all down hill from here.  Today, a white dress and a tux.  Tomorrow, a ratty T-shirt and pajama pants.  Well, maybe.  But you have certainly seen each other at your less-than-pretty moments.  You know what the blemishes look like.  You have probably even been responsible for some of each other’s scars and wounds.  That’s no surprise; for, you are sinners.  You have each sinned against the other, and you will again.  Now, you love each other, so you choose to overlook some of petty ugliness.  But some cannot be hidden. 
     It surely does not look good to God.  Every sin is rebellion against God and repulsive to him.  You can try to pretty it up all you want.  But it is like putting lipstick on a pig.  The lipstick does not make it pretty, and it is still a pig.  Sin is ugly, and you can’t make it look better.  The prophet Isaiah spoke of our appearance before God when he said, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6, NIV ‘84)  Even our best is filth before God.
     Since you cannot fix your sin or make it look pretty, God acted on your behalf.  Jesus suffered a brutal and gruesome death for you.  He was bloodied by lashes and fists.  He was stripped of his garments and nailed to the cross.  He suffered and died in shame for your shame.  Jesus wrapped himself in your sin and guilt, and he bore the curse of sin for you.  Jesus’ death was not pretty because it shows us what God thinks of sin.
     But Jesus’ crucifixion also shows you what God thinks of you.  He does not let you die with your sins clinging to you like filthy rags.  The Lord has atoned for all your guilt.  And now, he covers your guilt and your shame with his own righteousness.  Jesus clothes you in glorious wedding garments.
     Therefore, Isaiah says, I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10) 
     Jesus clothes you in glorious wedding garments.  The Lord, therefore, does not look upon you and see filthy rags or the ugliness of sin.  That has been covered by the blood of Jesus.  Since you are baptized, you are now clothed with Christ.  God sees you in better than your Sunday best.  He sees you in robes of righteousness and garments of salvation.  Jesus Christ, the Groom, has dressed up his Church as a beautiful Bride, without blemish or spot or wrinkle.  Jesus clothes you in glorious wedding garments.
     The love that Jesus Christ has for his Church is the love that you are to have for your bride, Bob.  You do not pledge your love to Lindsey based on any conditions.  Your love is a commitment to her, casting aside your own self-interests for the good of your bride and of your family.  That is what Christ-like love is.  Love does not insist on its own way.  Love does not keep score.  Love only seeks the good of the other.  The husband, therefore, loves his wife as Christ loves the Church.
     Lindsey, you get to submit to your husband as the Church submits to Christ.  You get to support him in his efforts to bless you and care for you.  The Church suffers no shame in submitting to Christ.  In fact, the Church is glorified by submitting to her Groom, Jesus.  Likewise, by submitting to your husband, Lindsey, you get to receive good things from him, and you honor him as he gives them to you. 
     Now, you will still have your ugly moments with each other.  You will still see the blemishes.  Your marriage may develop a wrinkle or two.  Satan will try to drive a wedge between what God joins together.  Again, you will get to demonstrate the love of Christ to each other by confessing your sins to each other and forgiving one another.  You don’t do it because it is deserved, but because it is needed.  You remain committed to the vows you take today—to love each other, to seek the best for each other, and to see each other as children of God.
     For, the Lord Jesus Christ has clothed you in glorious wedding garments.  He does not tie conditions to that, as if you have to be good enough before he calls you his own.  He has purchased you for his own, and the dowry was his precious blood.  He has made you beautiful by clothing you with garments of salvation.  He has covered every blemish.  He has taken out every wrinkle.  He has made you radiant and rejoices that you are his.
     Bob and Lindsey, you will not want the joy of this day to come to an end.  Wedding banquets are a blast.  So also, the Lord has prepared an eternal wedding banquet for Christ, the Groom, and for his Bride, the Church.  And Jesus has clothed you in glorious wedding garments so you are prepared for your place there.  There, you will get to receive good things from your Lord forever, and the joy will never come to an end. 

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

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