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Wedding Sermon: “Your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely”

Wedding of Kayla and Gregory

St. Peter Lutheran Church

Song of Solomon 2:10-17, 8:5-7

August 11, 2012


Greg and Kayla:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ on this your wedding day.



May the Lord grant us His Spirit that we celebrate His gifts to You with holy and thankful hearts.


After the wedding you will go home with all sorts of gifts with which to set up your home—money, gift cards.  But God Your Father’s gift to you this day is far more wonderful—and far more difficult.  He gives you, Greg, a wife, and you, Kayla, a husband. 


And not just a husband or wife as an idea, or a fantasy, or a dream.  He gives you a real person.  Greg, Kayla will soon be your own, flesh of flesh, bone of bone.  Kayla, you will have Greg as your God-given head, until death parts you.


All of Greg, that is.  The things you love, and little things that kind of annoy you.  All of Kayla.  The things you admire, the parts of her character you love so passionately that you cannot stand the thought of living without her.  But also the qualities you don’t really like but overlook.  All of her will be one flesh with you so long as you live, and so long as you live Jesus’ will for you, His command to you is “love her, and give yourself up for her, as I gave myself up for you and my whole Church—in order to cover her offenses with my blood, and make her spotless and with no fault.” 


As long as you live, God commands you Kayla, “I have given you this man to be your husband; submit to him as the church submits to Christ.  Trust him and trust Me.”


We know this will not always be easy.  But today is not the day to focus on the hard things that married love will surely bring into your life.  Today is the day for us to take to heart that the Creator of Heaven and Earth has given the two of you to one another.  He has done it and He wills to bless You in this state that is well-pleasing to Him—Holy Marriage.


My beloved spoke and said unto me, rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.

For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.


The flowers appear on the earth;

The time of singing has come,

And the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.


Not so long ago I can remember sitting outside a college dorm at night with some youth group members from St. Peter.  Me and Kayla were talking about the future.  Even though it was summer, it was winter; even though it was hot out, it was like it was raining.   In this life there are seasons of sorrow and joy.  They don’t remain forever.  There are seasons of loneliness.


One of the most painful things in life is to be alone, to feel like no one knows you, or really wants to know you.  No one wants to find you.  But in the Song of Solomon the groom seeks his bride.  He doesn’t want things from her—he wants her.  Come away, he says.  Today is the day for that, the day of singing, the day when your life is blooming.  Your husband calls you away, to come make a life with him.


There are parts of ourselves that we hide away from almost everyone—the deepest part of ourselves.  We don’t expose our souls to the world.  It’s not safe to do so.  But in marriage God gives you a protected space where husband and wife, lover and beloved, can safely reveal their whole selves to one another and receive—not condemnation, or mocking, or abuse, like we so often get.  But love.  That is what Solomon is saying to his new bride: O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.


It’s almost embarrassing.  But, the truth is, probably most people here would admit today, “How great a blessing it would be if my hidden self that I hide away, like a dove hiding in the rock of a cliff—how great a blessing if there was one who loved me and said that that which I hide is beautiful.  That the voice of my soul is sweet to them.”


That’s your job as a husband, Greg—to seek your wife, to speak tenderly to her.  Not to lie to her like a flatterer.  Not to knock down the rock so that she has nowhere to hide.  But to make it safe for her to share herself with you.


The reason why this is your job is because that is what Jesus does for His bride the church.


Here is the problem: marriage seldom looks this pretty.  God gives us to each other, but very quickly people start acting as if God didn’t give.  So we have to take and force. 


In fact, for those who do not believe in Jesus Christ, that’s all they can do.  God gives everyone everything—their lives, their parents, their daily bread, their spouses.  But most people receive the gifts and use them in a bodily way, but their souls do not receive them as gifts from God.  Most people eat their food but don’t really believe that God provided it.  So people are always trying to make sure that they get what they want or need, even though that usually means stealing something from someone else.


This causes destruction in marriages.  When the dove doesn’t show her face after several days of being nice, our sinful flesh starts trying to force the dove to come out.  Or we say, “Forget it.  Life is too short.” 


And the beloved says, “I can’t risk coming away with my beloved, because the last 400 times he didn’t pay attention to me at all and we spent the whole time doing and talking only about what he wanted to do.”  “I can’t let him crush me again.” 


Your sinful nature will do this even though you are Christians.  In fact, the devil will work harder to ruin your marriage so that you become bitter and say, “What good is the church and God anyway?  My marriage is just as painful as marriages that don’t even worry about God.”


Now listen, please, on your day of joy:  Kayla, your beloved is yours and you are his not because he always is attentive and shows you that he’s thinking about you and is willing to give himself up for you every day.  You have this union with one another because Jesus today gives you to one another; He knits you together and makes you one flesh.


You are saved, you are righteous before the throne of God, you are justified.  That is not because you act like a saint should act each day.  It is because God’s word says it is so; Jesus paid for your sins on the cross.  You believe it.  God has given You His Son as your ransom. 


We believe that Christ’s holy church, his communion of saints, is present in this congregation, not because people act like saints, but because God declares us to be saints and seals it to us in Baptism.  Because He says it, even though there may be those who don’t believe, that is because they reject His Word that says it is true.


So Greg, Kayla is your wife.  You are to give yourself up for her like Jesus did for the church; that is not because it will always feel like it is worth it.  She won’t always recognize when you try to love her; it may very well seem like she hardly ever does.  But Christ says it: she is bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh.


Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?  I awakened you under the apple tree…there she who bore you brought you forth.  Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm.  For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as cruel as the grave.  Its flames are flames of fire.  The very flame of the Lord.


Kayla, it is okay to lean on your beloved.  That’s why God has given him to you.  Greg, Kayla will comfort and help you, but it isn’t your job to lean on her.  She is to lean on you. 


But Jesus does not intend either of you to stand on your own.  He is the great and perfect bridegroom.  We were meant to lean on Him as He bears the weight of our sin and death.  He invites you to lean on Him for salvation but also for daily strength. 


He wants you to lean on Him as you serve Him, all the days of your life, as husband and wife.  That is what He calls you to do today. 


He prepared you for one another from the time you were brought out of the womb, that you would love one another—and that you would learn His love together.


But even more, He prepared both of You for Himself.  Because it is not human love or strength that is as strong as death; it is not mere human love that is the very flame of the Lord, the one God whose nature is love.


Real love is God’s love.  It is stronger than death.  Nothing can destroy it.  Instead God’s love consumes death, and our sin.  It blazes too hot for any floods to drown it.  That love is found only in our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered the just punishment for our sins on the cross, bearing God’s righteous wrath against all the lovelessness we have ever shown all those we were called to love. 


There God set His burning love on you. 


Jesus has borne all the ingratitude of us all in a way that no husband or wife ever bears with his or her spouse.  He has set us as a seal on His heart and His arm—all of His tender love and passion, all of His almighty strength He has put into delivering us from our sins.  And He has placed His name on You in your baptism, sealing you as his own, promising that no one will break His bond with you.  Once we were bound and married to sin and death, but Jesus broke that seal when He broke open the sealed tomb.

Now you are married to Jesus Christ, and He is the one who gives you to each other, that You may learn to know the beloved bridegroom of your souls together.


Stay near to your Lord Jesus and His Word that forgives your sins.  That is the same word that binds you together today for your joy and comfort, all the days of your life.


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


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