29 May 2011

Kettner/Kress wedding homily

Evermore and evermore.  When the Bride insists, absolutely insists, that at her wedding we have to sing all about Jesus, about our Lord’s birth forever blessed when the Virgin full of grace by the Holy Ghost conceiving bore the Savior of our race, and that babe, the world’s Redeemer first revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore, it’s as though she thinks the big thing happening today is Jesus and what He did and does and NOT herself, the beautiful bride, or her handsome and proud groom, now, not even the red- or silver-vested fathers who are dancing for joy today.  It’s as though you two think your wedding is all about Jesus.  How radical can you get?
But you’re thinking runs right with Paul in today’s reading from Ephesians, who seems to think that weddings and marriages are really all about Jesus too.  Notice how he brings it all to that point when he says:  “This mystery is profound, but I am saying it refers to Christ and the church.”  This being made one flesh.
That is, no one gets what God’s up to today in joining Karen and Bryan as one until one sees that they are stand-ins – both of them – for something far bigger. 
Bryan, you are in the place of Jesus today, and so your Lord crowns you as king of a new family.  It’s just that the crown he places on your head is like unto His own:  a servant’s crown of thorns.  Today Jesus names you chief servant of your wife and future family.  And He bids you take as your example how His own love for the Church.
His is a love that does not delight in pointing out His church’s failings and sin; rather, it is a miraculous love that gives Himself up for her so that He can present His Church to Himself, sanctified, cleansed, in splendor without any wrinkle or blemish, holy and pure.  He sees her that way because He sees her through His own self-giving sacrifice.  So Jesus summons you today, Bryan, to love Karen with that sort of love – to learn to see her as pure and holy in your sight as she is in His, and to treasure, honor, and keep her. 
And Karen, you get to stand in the place of the Church.  So when St. Paul lays on you the big submission word, you know he’s not being a male chauvinist pig.  He’s talking about you joyfully receiving the gifts that the Lord has commanded Bryan to serve you.  When taken up into the Lord we are miles away from Bryan lounging in his chair and commanding you:  “Yo, wife!  Go get my beer!”  No, that’s not the Lord’s way at all.  But just as Bryan is called to see you as pure and holy as the Lord declares you to be; so you must come to see him through the lens of the Lord.   To respect and honor Him as though He were Christ to you.
Now since neither of you will live up to that in its fullness due to the fact that both of you still have that nasty old Adam running around inside wanting his own way and sometimes getting it, the vital importance of forgiveness.  For it is forgiveness that will hold your marriage together when all else fails.  The world foolishly thinks that the glue of marriage is the feeling of being in love – and you can look all around you and see how well that nonsense works.  Rather, it is Christ’s forgiveness poured out on each of you in abundance, from your Baptism, to your hearing of absolution and your partaking of the Eucharist.  In all of them, Jesus gives you forgiveness for all your sin and even more – forgiveness which you will share with each other and that will keep you together through the most trying and difficult times.  He has forgiveness bigger than any screw-ups you will inflict upon each other – and in that forgiveness – seeing each other as God has declared the other to be, your marriage will not only survive – it will grow and flourish. 
So you were right that it was all about Jesus and so why not:  Of the father’s Love begotten?  It’s HIS story that shapes your wedding and that will shape your marriage, and as you live in this Jesus way toward each other – Bryan fulfilling something of the role of Christ; Karen fulfilling something of the role of the Church – as you live a marriage like this, people notice that you’re weird, different, not normal.  And when they want to know why and what gives, you have the answer right at hand:  It’s because everything – including our marriage – isn’t about US, it’s about Jesus!  Jesus, whose death has wiped our sin and whose resurrection has given us a life that no death will ever be able to take from us – evermore.  So….
Christ to thee with God the Father and oh Holy Ghost to Thee, hymn and chant and high thanksgiving and unending praises be, honor, glory and dominion and eternal victory.  Evermore and evermore.  Amen.


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