Wedding Sermon

Posted on Saturday, April 8, 2006
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Wedding Sermon for Megan Greening and Chris Brown

April 8, 2006

"The Perfect Marriage”

Ephesians 5:21-33

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Dear family, friends, and guests of the bride and groom, members of Peace Lutheran Church, and especially Megan and Chris,

When I was growing up, whenever I would visit my grandparent's house in West Virginia, I was always drawn to the plaque my grandmother had hanging on her wall above her kitchen table.  It had a picture of folded hands on it, and underneath the folded hands was written, "The family that prays together stays together.”  Perhaps you've heard this saying before.  It's a simple saying and maybe it's a little on the "cutesie” side, but it's also deeply profound.  "The family that prays together stays together.”

The divorce rate in America currently stands at over 50%.  You've all heard the statistics time and time again.  Over one out of two marriages in our society fail.  There are many relationship experts and sociologists out there who offer a wide variety of explanations.  But, while there certainly are a number of legitimate factors that lead to failed marriages, the number one reason, by far, is spiritual disconnection.  The number one reason marriages don't make it is because the couple is on different pages spiritually.  In one way or another, they're not connected to each other through faith in Christ.  Or, to put it in the simplest terms possible, they don't stay together because they don't pray together. 

Now, there are probably some of you here today who're thinking, "Well, you're a pastor of a Christian Church, of course you have to say that.”  But, truth is truth, whether we choose to believe it or not.  And, the truth is that marriages involving a Christian husband and a Christian wife, both of whom belong to the same Church and attend regularly, result in a lifelong union between 85 and 90% of the time. 

Now, please understand me when I say this.  I'm not talking about marriages between husbands and wives who merely claim to be Christian.  8 out of 10 Americans claim to be Christian.  But, only 4 out of 10 say that their faith is important to them, and only 2 out of 10 attend Church on a regular basis.  That's why you'll see statistics that claim that the divorce rate among Christians is not much better, if at all, than among non-Christians.  Their stats are based on all couples who claim Christianity as their religious affiliation on their surveys or polls.  I'm not talking about all of them.  I'm talking about Christian couples who belong to the same church and attend regularly; couples who share a mutual faith in Jesus Christ and have Him at the center of their lives.  Between 85 and 90% of those couples will stay together for as long as they live.

But, to find such couples in our society today is a rare thing indeed.  They're few and far between.  That's why we're all so privileged and blessed to be here today.  We get to witness what has become a rare spectacle in America today - the joining together of two faithful and committed Christians in holy marriage.  We get to see the wedding of two people today who not only love each other, but also, and more importantly, share a deep love for their Savior, Jesus Christ, and realize the importance of coming to His House on a regular basis to be fed by Him through His Holy Word and Sacraments.  Consider yourselves blessed, dear friends, you don't get to see this very often.

I know I consider myself extremely blessed this afternoon.  It has been an absolute joy getting to know Megan and Chris these last several months.  I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them in our pre-marital counseling sessions, which were more fun than anything else.  The only drawback was that Chris always dominated the conversation.  Megan and I could hardly ever get a word in edgewise.  I also enjoyed our time together in Adult Confirmation Class, or, as it became known, "Jesus Class.” 

This is a very special day for me, not only because this is my first wedding as a pastor, but because my first wedding as a pastor involves Megan and Chris.  I mean it when I say that I could not have asked for a better couple with whom to go through this whole thing for the first time.  This was easy!  Megan and Chris have been together now for nearly ten years.  They're well aware of the fact that neither of them is marrying a perfect person.  They know each other's faults inside and out.  They're well schooled in the things that the other one does to get on their nerves.  They've been through the fights and arguments and they've learned that being in a committed relationship is not easy, but requires a whole lot of work, the ability to compromise, and the willingness to forgive.  And, because they've learned all of this already, they come to the altar of the Lord this afternoon without any misconceived, "romanticized” notions about marriage.  And, most importantly, they come to the altar of the Lord this afternoon not only to pledge an oath to one another, but also to pledge an oath to the Lord in whom they both believe.

Megan and Chris, that last part is the most important thing about today.  Your mutual faith in Jesus Christ is a solid foundation upon which you can build your marriage.  As long as Christ remains at the center of your lives, your marriage will be blessed.  That's what St. Paul teaches us in our text from Ephesians (5:21-33).         

            It is Christ, the Bridegroom, and His bride, the Church that provide the perfect model of marriage.  As St. Paul instructs husband and wife, notice that it is Christ who takes center stage.  Wives are to submit to their husbands as they submit to Christ; husbands are to love their wives, just as Christ loved the Church; husbands are to feed and care for their wives, just as Christ feeds and cares for the Church.  Christ takes center stage because Christ is the perfect Husband.  He is the Man who left His Father and mother to be united to His wife, the Church, and has now become one flesh with her.  Christ left His Father when, "for us men and for our salvation He came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man.”  Approximately thirty years later, He left His mother to begin His earthly ministry and to make the journey to the cross for the salvation of the world, and to be wed to His Bride, the Church. 

            The marriage ceremony between Christ and the Church took place on a dusty hill called Calvary.  There, Christ made His solemn vow to His Bride by means of His blood.  This was both the ugliest and the most beautiful wedding ceremony that has ever taken place on earth.  The wedding guests, those who gazed upon the bloodied Lamb of God on the cross had no idea they were even at a wedding.  How could they?  The Bridegroom was not adorned in the usual way.  Instead of the fancy clothing normally worn, this Bridegroom was clothed in the sins of the world - the ugliest, most wretched outfit a Bridegroom has ever worn to his wedding.  And, what of the Bride?  A part of her didn't even attend the ceremony, but was off in hiding somewhere.  Another part of her had no clue the wedding was taking place.  And, the part of the Bride that did attend wore black and wept bitterly.  This was a wedding unlike any other in history. 

            The result was a perfect marriage - a marriage in which the Bride, the Church, willingly and lovingly submits to the Bridegroom, Christ; a marriage in which Christ loves the Church with a perfect love - a love that shows itself forth in action as Christ constantly feeds and cares for His bride through His Holy Word and Sacraments.  Christ is the perfect Husband who provides for every need of His Bride. 

            Megan and Chris, St. Paul uses this perfect model of marriage between Christ and His Church as an example for husbands and wives to follow. If the two of you were able to follow this model of the perfect marriage to perfection, you would have the dream marriage. 

            The problem is - you can't!  It is impossible for either of you to live up to these awesome expectations, as you both already know full well from experience.  Megan, there will be times when submitting to Chris will be the last thing on your mind.  Chris, there will be times when you will have no desire to take care of Megan's every need.   

            However, yours will be a marriage within a marriage.  Because both of you are members of Christ's Church and are united to Him in the perfect marriage, your earthly marriage to one another will be blessed.  The relationship "experts” and sociologists of the world can offer you all their "pearls of wisdom” on how to have a successful marriage, but the fact of the matter is that it is the marital union that you already have with Christ that provides you with the true love necessary to commit to one another for life.  It is your mutual dependence upon and faith in Christ, the perfect Husband who forgives your sins, loves you with true love, and cares for your every need, that will get you through the tough times.  It will be your focus on the cross of Christ that will make it impossible for either of you to withhold forgiveness from one another.  Far more important than what we ever discussed in pre-marital counseling is what we learned together in "Jesus Class.”  As long as you share your mutual faith in Christ, He will keep you together in the bonds of holy marriage.  Or, to put it in the simplest terms possible, as long as you pray together, you will stay together.  In the Holy and Precious Name of the Perfect Husband, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Now the peace of God that passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting.  Amen.