What a powerful prayer with which to begin your married life. To pray to the Holy Spirit: “O mighty rock, O source of life, Let Your dear Word in doubt and strife, Be in us strongly burning, That we be faithful unto death, And live in love and holy faith, From You true wisdom learning. Your grace and peace On us shower, by Your power Christ confessing, Let us see our Savior’s blessing.”
For marriage is a journey and the wedding is merely the grand send off. It’s a journey toward unity, as we heard Paul say in the epistle: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” That two become one is the goal of marriage. And many are the obstacles along the path of that journey. Many a marriage is brought to a premature end because the two are no longer walking the path toward unity.
You begin the journey today by asking Jesus to come to your wedding. That’s always a wise thing to do. He comes along, bringing gifts abounding and unexpected. As He did at Cana where the wine overflowed and not the cheap stuff either like in my house - the good wine that astounded the Master of the feast. Asking Jesus to be present and bless your wedding - that’s such a good beginning. But many have done so and then failed in the journey toward unity. You see, they invited Jesus to the wedding, but not to their marriage, not into their home.
Only by Jesus and His presence and power can the miracle of the ordinary becoming extraordinary take place. And if that miracle doesn’t take place, the journey to unity will falter. Here’s the ordinary: a sinful, selfish human being, bent in on one’s self, thinking life’s all about himself, herself, all about what I want, when I want it, and good for you if you happen to fit into my plans at the moment. Lord, have mercy. That’s the ordinary. That’s the way each one of us comes into this world. And it’s the way we leave this world unless the Lord Jesus does His miracle work in our lives.
When He is invited to bless a wedding and to bless a marriage, something profound begins to happen. He transforms those bent in on themselves people. He begins to unbend them. He begins to teach them a whole new way of living with each other. Welcome to the martrydom! Marriage is His arena for putting to death the self. Yes, it becomes His gift for you to die every day in little ways toward that impulse to do it my way or the highway, and instead you begin to live for the other, toward the other, to be a blessing to them. Did you catch how St. Paul described it?
Both of you, called to imitate God as beloved children, to walk in love the same way that your Lord loved you and, here’s the key, gave Himself up for you, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. God awaits the sacrifice of yourself that you will get to offer morning and night in your marriage.
David, let me be concrete. That means that instead of first considering what’s up in World of Warcarft and whether or not it’s a raid day, you get unbent and turned toward Meaghan to ask: how can I be a blessing to my lovely wife today? What can I do to encourage her and bring her joy? How can I communicate to her that she is a precious gift from God that I will not take for granted? Think about it, okay? She doesn’t need to be a WOW widow before she’s even been married a month. Got it? Yes, today Jesus crowns you the King of a new family. And the crown He places upon your head is made of thorns. A servant’s crown of thorns for you to wear that you might mirror Christ to your wife, and as God wills, to your children.
Meaghan, I’ll be concrete with you too. God through His apostle asks a sacrifice of you that’s very difficult and that the world today thinks is foolish. He asks you to submit to yourself to David and to do so trusting that denying yourself that way isn’t the path toward misery, but the path that leads to unity and to joy. To trust that the path of submission when offered to the Lord in the Lord is a path of blessing. It is to recognize that even though your husband’s crown is made of thorns, it’s still a crown.
How on earth will you two pull it off? You can’t do it on your own. You don’t have the strength or even the will. But where Jesus is present, the water can change to wine, the person bent in on themselves become one who is free and upright and able to think about the other and to serve their spouse and bless them. He can pull off what you can’t even begin to imagine. Without Him, it’s hopeless. But with Him, where He is present, where His forgiveness is poured into you for your failures to walk the path toward unity so that they cannot hinder or hamper you. Where His Spirit comes to abide with you and fill you with His peace, His joy, His love. Where He molds you and shapes you to set you free - THERE the path to unity is finally possible. “With God all things all things are possible.”
So don’t be DUMB. Don’t invite Jesus to your wedding and then leave here when you drive off today. Invite Him into your MARRIAGE. Into your HOME. Into your LIFE TOGETHER. Read the Word in your home. Pray to Him every day. Go confess your sins regularly and receive His forgiveness. Don’t you go missing the Divine Service where He waits to dish out to you more forgiveness than you have sin, more Life than you have death, more Joy than you will ever have sorrow. He waits to bless you, forgive you, and bring you ever closer to Him, and so ever more one with each other, till the journey’s over and you are fully One in Him forevermore.
It’s a journey, and you’re just starting. But “let us ever walk with Jesus, follow His example pure,” and as you walk with Jesus on that journey, you will find that its joys will only grow day by day - and that is our prayer for you both today and so we give all glory to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages! Amen.