Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sermon -- For the Wedding of Jerry Fix & Ruth Gonzalez (May 20, 2017)

GENESIS 2:18-25


In the name + of Jesus.

     Throughout the days of creation, the Lord surveyed all that he was making.  We read about Lord's assessment over and over again: “And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:4,10,12,18,21,25)  However, after he had created the man, the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18)  God's design is not for a man and a woman to go it alone.  Some can and do, but most men and women crave the companionship of marital union.  God was pleased to unite both of you in marriage before, and it was good.  But the course of life found each of you alone again.  And now God has been pleased to bring you together, each for the second time, as husband and wife.  And this, too, is good.
     So that we would know what God intends for a husband and wife, the Lord points to the perfect union of Jesus Christ who is the Groom and his Bride, the Church.  Holy Scripture tells us: “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  In the same way husbands should love their wives....” (Ephesians 5:25-28)  
     Everything Jesus did was for the good of his Bride, the Church, even though we are not good.  We all have flaws and blemishes.  We are marred by sin and scarred by guilt.  Our lives are not pretty.  We live with the shame of people who have forsaken our Lord and chased after what God forbids to find our thrills.  We may be able to hide our shame from each other, but Jesus sees us for what we are.
     We do not deserve the love and affection that Jesus shows us.  But then again, Jesus does not love us or care for us because we are worthy.  Jesus loves us because he is love.  Jesus cares for us because he is compassion.  He chose you not because he needs you, but because he loves you.  Therefore, Jesus did everything to remove every stain of sin from our record.  Jesus did not spare anything for her.  He suffered for the sins we had committed and died bearing the curse we deserve.  Though holy baptism, Jesus clothed you in his own righteousness so that you stand before him without spot, wrinkle, or blemish.  In Christ, you are beautiful and blameless.  And God sees that it is good.
     Jerry, this is how you get to love your bride.  You do all things to exalt and honor her.  Like Jesus does for his Church, you do not focus on faults of your bride, but you get to serve her with love and compassion.  You give yourself to her for her good.  And you share the joy that Adam had when he was first joined to his bride: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh....” (Genesis 2:23)
     Just as Scripture speaks to husbands, so it also speak to wives.  “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.” (Ephesians 5:22-23)  Now, Americans bristle at the word submit.  If God had told husbands, “Do whatever you want to your wife,” you might have good reason to bristle—although I don't think you would agree to marry a man you don't trust or respect.  But what God tells the man is to lay down his life for his wife, as Christ loved the Church.  To the wife, the Lord says, “Submit to that.”  If you submit to your husband, then you are willingly submitting to a man who will love you as Christ loves the Church.
     The Church submits to Christ in order to receive all good things from him.  Jesus has taken up all that is yours—your sin and the cursed death that accompanies it.  In turn, Jesus has given the Church all that is his.  His righteousness is yours.  His resurrection is yours.  His kingdom is yours.  His mercy, grace, and salvation are yours.  By submitting to Jesus, you receive all these things from him.  Likewise, Ruth, by submitting to your husband, all that is Jerry's is yours.  You get to receive all good things from him.  And God sees that it is good.
     When God first created a bride for Adam, he did not simply summon her into being as he did with all other parts of creation.  God had crafted Adam from the dust of the ground, but the woman he took from Adam's rib.  She was not to be someone for him to walk over, but someone who would be near and dear to his heart.  The bride received her life from the man's side.  In the same way, our Lord Jesus went to the cross to win his bride.  The dowry was his life.  When Jesus died, a Roman soldier ran his sword into Jesus' side, bringing forth a sudden flow of blood and water.  Jesus' Bride receives her life from what comes from his side.  The water of baptism has cleansed you and covered you with garments of salvation.  His blood is given in the Lord's Supper to keep you holy, to nurture you in godly living, and to keep you faithful to your heavenly Groom forever.  By these, he also works in you to sustain your love and faithfulness to each other.  And God sees that it is good.
     The love which the Lord has shown you, you now will strive to show one another.  Though you are not perfect and you will sin against one another, you also know what it is to be forgiven.  The love which Jesus bestows on you will work in you so that you will forgive each other, serve each other, find contentment in each other, and be faithful to each other.  This is the joy which the Lord intends for husbands and wives, which dimly reflects the joy between Christ, the Groom, and his Bride, the Church.
     The Lord, in his wisdom, saw that it was not good that you two remained alone.  The Savior who loves you has been pleased to bind you together today.  God sees it, and bless it; and it is very good.

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

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