Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sermon -- Wedding of Thomas & Mikaela Mattison (July 5, 2014)


In the name + of Jesus.

     It is probably no secret to anyone here that you actually pledged your marriage vows to each other about a year ago.  This was good and right to do, as it is God’s will that children come into the world through husband and wife.  Children are to be a blessing that God grants in marriage.  For, those who are outside of marriage usually respond to the news of pregnancy with anguish or regret.  This was not God’s intention for you, and so you did well to get married a year ago.  And God granted you a daughter who gets to rely on both mom and dad for love, care, and protection.
     And yet, one year later, you are here again before God’s altar.  This time, the ceremony is not so modest.  There are fine garments.  There is festive music.  And there is a wedding banquet to follow with music, dancing, and laughter.  It is no surprise that you want to mark your marriage with such a celebration. 
     St. John was given a vision of a great wedding banquet.  All of heaven rejoiced at this great banquet, as St. John heard angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven cry out: “Hallelujah!  For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.  Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come…” (Revelation 19:6-7)  This marriage feast of the Lamb is the eternal, heavenly union of Jesus Christ and his Bride, the Church.  Just as people dress up for the wedding banquet today, so it is even in the glory of heaven.  “The marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (Revelation 19:7-8) 
     The Lord Jesus himself prepared his Bride for the wedding.  For the Church is not naturally radiant and beautiful.  You can look at any group of Christians and they will prove that they are sinners.  Their words can get ugly.  Their deeds can be unattractive.  And their thoughts are often best kept behind hidden. 
     Tom and Mikaela, you are aware of these things, too.  Though you love each other and are going to pledge yourself to each other again, after a year of marriage you have gotten to know each other very well.  That is good, but it has a dark side to it as well.  When you were dating, you made efforts to hide your faults and blemishes from each other.  But being married, there is no hiding them.  You have seen each other’s sins.  You have witnessed ugly words, unattractive deeds, and even thoughts that you wished you had kept hidden.  You have sinned against each other, as well as against the God who has given you to each other.
     The Lord Jesus Christ knows of your sins, too.  He does not choose to overlook your faults or to ignore your sins.  Rather, Jesus took your sins and ugliness from you.  When a man and a woman get married, the Groom may have to assume the credit card debt of his bride.  Out of love, he will.  As a loving groom, Jesus assumed every debt and flaw and failing of his Bride.  He suffered the consequences for your sins.  He laid down his life on your behalf to deliver you from the wrath that you deserved for your ugliness and unfaithfulness.  Jesus purified you in your baptism and covered you in his righteousness.  These are the clean, bright garments that cover every blemish and every spot.  These are the wedding garments that you wear now.  These are what you shall wear in the everlasting, heavenly wedding banquet.  “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:9)
     Tom & Mikaela, when you sin against each other, do not pretend that it doesn’t matter.  Your sins against each other will leave marks and scars.  If they are allowed to fester, the fabric of your marriage will pull apart at the seams, fray, and rip apart.  Therefore, confess your sins to each other, and then forgive one another.  Forgiveness is not like ignoring a grape juice stain in the middle of your spouse’s shirt.  “Forgiving” and “ignoring” are not synonyms.  Forgiveness is saying, “I do not hold this against you.  I will not hold this over you.  I relinquish my rights to rub this in your face.  Instead, I choose to see you as beautiful and blameless.  I remain firm in my commitment to love you, honor you, and to cherish you.”  In this way, neither sin nor Satan will be able to reduce your marriage to tatters.  In this way, Jesus Christ will reign in your house with love and mercy.  In this way, your marriage will still echo the “Hallelujah!” you sing today in celebration of the marriage feast.
     Tom & Mikaela, those who have come to your wedding rejoice with you.  Everyone loves a wedding feast.  The hall is filled with friends and loved ones.  There is a sumptuous feast awaiting.  There is good music and good conversation.  It is one of the few times that people don’t care about the time, because everyone loves the feast. 
     “Hallelujah!  For…the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready…  Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:6-7,9)  Your heavenly Groom, Jesus, has invited you to the marriage feast in heaven.  It will be a great hall filled with good music and good food.  Jesus’ Bride, the Church, will be beautiful, glorious, and pure, for he has given her wedding garments, garments of salvation, to wear.  And the celebration will be timeless, endless, and perfect.  The Church will rejoice in the presence of her Savior, and the Savior will rejoice that you are with him.  For that is the way it is with a Bride and a Groom—they delight over each other. 
     “Hallelujah!  Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:6,9)  Blessed are you, who already feast on the marriage supper from this altar.  Blessed are you who are holy and blameless before God, every sin cleansed and every blemish covered.  And blessed are you who have made the Lord Jesus the foundation of your marriage and your home.  For, he who has saved you will also sustain you—both as husband and wife, and as children of his Bride, the Church.

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

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