Wilder Park, Elmhurst, Illinois
St. Matthew 19:4-6, Genesis 2, Psalm 127
June 15, 2013
“It is God’s deed”
Dear Tina and Kyle,
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early, and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil, for He gives to His beloved sleep. Psalm 127:1-3
You are not building your house today. You are not marrying yourselves today.
Today God is doing something. Today God is bestowing a gift.
God is uniting you, Tina and Kyle, in one flesh. They are no longer two but one flesh. So what God has put together, let not man separate.
When God gave the first man the first woman, it wasn’t the man’s idea. It was God who said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” God did not say, “Go out and find yourself a companion.” After Adam came to realize there was no suitable helper for him, God did the work of making and forming the woman, His wife. Even today in this fallen world men still have to admit that woman was a very good gift of God.
Most men and women spend a lot of time and energy trying to be united in one flesh to someone else, with or without marriage.
It would be a whole lot easier if He would just give us the right person.
And today that’s what God is doing. He is giving you to each other and making you one flesh.
He gives you to each other and makes you one flesh through His Word. For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. As God did with Adam and Eve, so He is doing with you.
After He did the first marriage, we are told that this would be an ongoing way of life. A man would leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two would be one flesh.
In a moment, when you acknowledge the estate of matrimony that God ordained and give your consent and vows to one another, God will, according to His Word, make you one flesh till death parts you.
Before now you loved each other and felt that you were meant for each other, but you had not yet been given to each other by God. But from this point it will not be your own choices and emotions that are the basis of your union. Your marriage will be created by God’s Word. A man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will be one flesh.
Which means from this day forward, for better or worse, richer or poorer, no matter how you feel, when you look at your spouse you will be looking at the man or woman with whom God made you one flesh.
Since it wasn’t your doing, it won’t be yours to undo either.
That means that although you have to live out your calling to one another, to love one another, it doesn’t depend on you. God has done it. He said you are one flesh in His Word.
He has made you one flesh for your blessing. That is true just as much in your faults and sins, in the unhappy times of marriage as in the joyful ones.
God knows better than us what kind of husband or wife we need. He knows how to make your wife or your husbands’ faults into a blessing for you.
You are put together as a gift, to comfort one another, to love and delight in one another, to know and be known in soul and body, to be vessels through which God creates life when it pleases Him.
But even when your spouse is making you uncomfortable, remember that God gave you this person and made you one flesh. And He did that because He loves you too, because He knows also what pain is necessary for you to keep your sinful nature on a leash.
Adam and Eve didn’t have that, but they gave it to their kids. And that nature is always out to destroy or throw away every good gift God gives us. He gives us the gift of a wife or a husband out of love toward us, with perfect wisdom, and so often when things become difficult we begin to wonder whether God gave us this person after all, to doubt whether or not he or she was a good gift, to doubt whether God really means to do good for us at all.
God who gives you to one another today and who makes you one flesh today desires nothing but the highest good for you today. And that is not because He is unaware of your sins and that you deserve punishment.
He has seen all of it and freely forgiven it, paying for its forgiveness with the death of His Son, who is the bridegroom of the church. Out of love He died to cleanse the sins of His bride and make her radiant and beautiful in His sight.
Just as He says you are one flesh today, the two of you, He also says that you who were born in sin are righteous and bear your sins no more. And it is so.
In your baptism He says you are His radiant bride, all sin covered by the white wedding garment of your heavenly bridegroom’s righteousness.
That was His doing, even though you were still a sinner and many times lived as if nothing had changed for you. Yet what He said was and is so.
So with your marriage today. You are one flesh. You might not always feel like it or look like it.
You are a gift to one another. It will not always look like it or feel like it.
But God has given you to one another. And since God is the God who loved you so as to give His Son to the death of the cross for you, you can be assured that He knows how to give good gifts when He gives a spouse.
He has promised this, and He will do it. But today we call on Him to do as He has promised and to bless your marriage. Since the Lord has promised to build your house, you have a good foundation and the promise that the master builder will complete what he has started.
Don’t depend on your own love or your own work. Do that you are called to do—love one another. But above all, remember God’s promise to make you one flesh and bless you through one another. Call on Him to fulfill it and believe that He will never fail to keep His Word.
The peace of God, which surpasses understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Little Sable Point Lighthouse, Mears, Michigan
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
June 12, 2013
A More Excellent Way for Marriage
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ on this your wedding day.
“And now I will show you a more excellent way.”
The reading starts there, with “a more excellent way.” There are a lot of other ways to live in marriage, but what we get is not “the slightly less excellent way,” or the “better than most other people’s way”, or
“the way that seems best to us”, or
D K’s way, or
A McL’s way.
It is “the more excellent way.” Really it is the most excellent way.
The ‘more excellent way’ is the way of love.
God says love is the more excellent way to live in marriage and in every other station in life. He says love is, in fact, the only way that He accepts.
the most excellent way for marriage because it is God’s way. It is not only His way, but what He is. God is love (1 John). The Bible says, Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)
But who gets married without love, anyway? Most people who get married are “in love.”
But that is not the kind of love we’re talking about. The kind of love we are talking about, which is the “more excellent way” for marriage, is not found in very many marriages at all.
4 Love is patient and kind…
Love is patient and kind even when the other person totally and inexcusably fails us.
love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude.
Love does not leave socks laying around the house and think the sock fairy will pick them up. It does not envy, thinking: “My husband or wife should put me before the in-laws or work.”
It does not seek itself
it is not easily angered, it does not keep a record of wrongs.
Love doesn’t remember all the times our spouse failed us or disrespected us in the past.
] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, stands firm through all things.
Love does not give loved ones a pat on the back when they do what is wrong in God’s sight, even if it is okay in the eyes of other people.
Nor does it give up when instead of a series of sunny days, marriage appears to be one storm after another. It believes all things, hopes all things, stands fast through all things, seeing through the dark clouds (like those we see today) and always believing that in the end joy will win out over sorrow.
This kind of love is God’s love. This is God’s nature. God is love.
Anything we do without this love displeases God and is unacceptable to Him. Without this kind of love everything we do—whether in marriage or any other calling in life–is stained with selfishness. It’s really all about us.
That’s how most marriages operate, even though the fundamental selfishness is prettied up and hidden even from the people who do it. Sometimes it works for awhile too. But it is really empty.
Without this love our marriage may please us, but it displeases God.
And yet this kind of love, which is the more excellent way, goes against our nature. We love and give, but we always want a return on our love. And we can’t wait forever for the debt to be repaid.
But you do have this love, unless you push it away from yourself. Because this is how God has loved you.
He loved you selflessly. He put aside His anger, and didn’t keep a record of your wrongs. He was kind and patient. And He wants to show you unlimited patience and kindness throughout your lives.
God has loved you with this selfless love, and given this love to you so that it is your own. He gave it to you in His Son.
Greater love has no one than this, that a man lays down His life for His friends, Jesus said (John 15?). Unlike merely human husbands, Jesus not only talked, but did what He said. He gave up His life and was judged and condemned for us that we would live, even though our whole nature had been to seek ourselves. We didn’t love. We didn’t know God. We were enemies.
But now God has loved us and His love covers our past sins and our present sins and our future sins. He loved us in His Son. And in Jesus He gives to us this love which as long as we live covers up our faults and buries them.
And the love God gave you in flesh and blood—in Jesus—He caused it to touch you in your time and place when He baptized you. There you became radiant and beautiful, like your bride on her wedding day. Today she is more beautiful to you than any woman in the world because she is your wife, given to you by God. That is how your baptism makes you in the eyes of Jesus. It made you His own.
As we watch the sun set over Lake Michigan tonight through the rain and clouds we hoped would not come, we rejoice in God’s goodness and kindness. He has made it so that you are not alone. He joins you in marriage and makes you one flesh, as Adam and Eve were one flesh.
And even when His gifts do not shine in our eyes, like this rain, we can still rejoice. God our Father gives nothing to us that doesn’t end in our good. The rain falling is not the whether we want for your wedding, but without this rain there would be no life. Often God’s gifts are like this—not what we wished, not what shines in our eyes, but giving something better and more real than we wished for.
God gave you something greater by His Spirit, which all this water pictures. He washed away and covered and drowned all that we are by nature—our self-love, our sin inherited from Adam. He washed it in Baptism and covered us with Jesus—with His righteousness, with His blood shed to cleanse us of our sins. He united us with Him as a bride to her husband.
In Him, in your Baptism, the love of God is yours. It covers your sins, and it flows out of you. It may be just a little puddle, or seem that way. But baptized into Jesus, and believing that He loved you so as to take away your sins forever with His death, the little fountain of God’s love in you will grow until it empties into the ocean from which it came—which is God Himself. For God is love. And those who are born of God will find their rest in Him.
Let this most excellent way be the way of your marriage. Love one another, but first believe in His love for you.
Be renewed in Jesus’ love. Don’t try to get by on your own. Hear Him preach to you in church and in the Scriptures. Hear Him when He says: “This is my blood of the new testament, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” and receive the gift of His love, His body and blood.
As you are strengthened in His love, you will be strengthened to love one another—to be patient and kind, to put up with all things, believe all things, hope all things, stand firm in all things. Even in storms and darkness light will shine in the darkness for you.
You will begin to love one another as God loves, and God, who is love, will dwell in your marriage. This is the most excellent way, and it is the way on which Christ put you when He baptized you. Like this rain and this lake, there is life hidden in this water, regardless of how it appears. Only the life in your baptism “never comes to an end.” He who loved you will lead you in His most excellent way until the river empties into the see and you know the love of God not as in a mirror, darkly, but face to face.
The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.