Thursday, June 25, 2015

When Jesus Comes to Your Wedding - Wedding Sermon for Jeremy and Teresa Warner

When Jesus Comes to Your Wedding.
Genesis 2:4-8, 18-24  Colossians 3:12-17 John 2:1-11

     Jesus was also invited to the wedding, …     and He brought strength, compassion, and great joy to the newlyweds, and to everyone gathered there. 

     Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God and before His Church to witness the union of this man and this woman in holy matrimony.  That is good.  Even more, Jesus has also been invited to this wedding.  That is especially good. 
     This gathering, this wedding, is a good thing, a very good thing, not just for Jeremy and Tig, but for all of us.  The institution of marriage seems to be struggling today.  Some even claim that marriage is soon to be a thing of the past.  But today I have good news, for you, and for all people.  Marriage is a good thing, and a Christian marriage is very near to the very best thing.  And so today, we rightly gather with great joy. 

     Now, certainly, all marriages struggle, and many fail, with heartbreaking results.  This is nothing new.  Read your history.  Read your Bible.  Talk to someone who has been married for a while.  Marriage has always been difficult.  And there have been better times and worse times for marriage throughout history.  But how we fare in the task of marriage is not what makes marriage a bad or a good thing. 

     As strange as it may sound, the value of marriage doesn’t depend on us.  Because it is God who has made marriage a good thing, in the beginning, in the Garden.  God fulfills His desire to have a people of His own by working through the mystery of the one-flesh relationship between husband and wife.   

    It is God who made marriage and family holy, as well as the foundation of society, and the engine of education and economic prosperity.  We can hurt ourselves, and each other, by neglecting or rejecting marriage and family.  But we cannot destroy marriage, because marriage comes from God, belongs to Him, and is precious to Him.  So it is good to be gathered here for the wedding of Teresa and Jeremy.   

     And today is an even better day, because Teresa and Jeremy have invited Jesus to their wedding.        

     Do you know what happens when Jesus comes to your wedding?    

     When Jesus come to your wedding, compassion and forgiveness are at the center of everything.  At Cana, Jesus was still three years away from the Cross, His plan of salvation not yet fully revealed.  But today, as Jesus joins us at this wedding, He comes bearing scars that remind us of the rest of the story. 

     Jesus was happy to attend the wedding at Cana, and willing to show compassion for the fairly minor problem facing the newlyweds.  But His greater desire was to win forgiveness for all people.  Jesus’ glory was not to be acclaimed as a miracle worker, turning water into wine, but rather His glory was to be lifted up, on the Cross, for all of us. 

     To prove His priorities, after He rose from the dead, Jesus kept His scars.  As we see in the painting above the altar, Jesus kept the marks of the nails and the spear in His glorified body, as an eternal testimony to the compassion, to the forgiveness and grace, that He has for all people. 

     It would be great to have Jesus provide miraculous wine at the reception this evening.  I wish that I had this power.  But in truth, it is not so important whether the reception has good wine or bad, craft beer or domestic.  It is good to have a nice reception after the wedding.  But nothing is better for a marriage than when husband and wife know and trust the forgiving love of God, revealed in the compassionate scars of Jesus.

     It is very good to have Jesus come to your wedding, because problems will come to this marriage.  Problems will come because you are both sinners, and on top of that, Satan hates a Christian marriage.  But do not worry.  Instead, remember Jesus, God’s eternal Son, who become a man, and then started coming to weddings, in order to bless them. 

     Jesus doesn’t come to your wedding to prevent you from ever having problems.  Rather, He comes with compassion for today, and with His eternal compassion, for marital problems, and all the problems of life.  Ultimately, you can deal with the problems of life, because you already have His eternal solution, the compassion of His blood bought forgiveness. 

     So remember, you face the problems that come to your marriage as baptized believers in Christ.  You have developed the most excellent habit of gathering around God’s Word and Sacrament to be forgiven and restored again, and again.  Jesus rejoices to come to you with His compassion, poured out for you on the Cross, delivering it to you day by day through His Word and Supper.  Sunday after Sunday, and even in between, you draw on God’s well of forgiveness, through which God gives you strength and forgiveness to resolve the problems that will come.    

     As husband and wife bound together with Christ, you can share His compassion with each other.  You can, as Paul says, put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you.  This will bind you closer and closer to each other, and to God, throughout the years to come. 

     Jesus by the power of His Word, has come to your wedding, which is good for you, and which also makes you a blessing of strength to the rest of us.  A good marriage is strong, sometimes obviously, sometimes quietly.  A good marriage brings all kinds of material blessings, greater health and wealth, happy, productive children, good neighbors, couples committed to improving their communities.   

     Even more, a Christian marriage helps people learn about God’s grace and love.  For, as good as it is to find fulfillment in the partner God has made for you, as wonderful as having children can be, as valuable as strengthening our society is, God has an even higher purpose for marriage. 

     It was our human sin that brought problems to the first marriage, and to every marriage after.  But God, in His loving determination, still chose marriage to serve as a picture of the Gospel.  In the Old Testament, the Lord describes Himself as a loving Husband to His people Israel.  In the New Testament, Jesus is presented as the Bridegroom, the Head of His Bride, the Church.  Jesus, the one perfect husband, gave everything, to serve and protect His Bride. 

     Now, today, as husbands and wives love and serve each other, and as each of you puts the good of the other before your own good, the world sees an image of Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church.  Your example need not be prefect, nor will it ever be perfect.  But by teaching you to overcome imperfections with the forgiving love of Jesus, God works through you, powerfully.  For all the opposition and scorn that our society likes to heap on marriage, there still is no better witness to the Gospel than a Christian couple living out their faith together.

     Your friends and neighbors will see you sacrifice and serve and forgive and love each other, and the Spirit will prompt many to ask why, and how, and whether they might learn what you know of God and His love.  If God grants you children, you will have the Spirit of Christ with you, reminding you to do as your parents did for you, to bring them to Holy Baptism and Sunday service and catechism class, and to join you at the Altar.  The Spirit will use you to speak His Word to your children, in order to pass on the faith to them. 

     In many and various ways, God uses earthly grooms and brides to teach the world about Christ and His Church, bringing everlasting joy to all who trust in His forgiving love. 

     When Jesus came to the wedding at Cana, He blessed the newlyweds with great joy, the very best wine.  Everyone expected the fun was about to end, but Jesus saves the best for last, giving joy to the couple and their family and friends, and creating faith in His disciples.  This is also His desire for you, the joy that comes from faith in His promises.  With Jesus, your “now” is good, even when there are problems, and your eternal future is glorious, and guaranteed. 

     Today we rejoice, because Jesus, the risen Savior, has come to this wedding.  We rightly rejoice, because He is our promise of joy at the end, and strength for each day.  We rejoice, and face the difficulties that are sure to come, sharing the same forgiveness that Christ has won for all people. 

     Jeremy and Teresa, rest and rejoice in this peace, throughout your life together, Amen.