The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
1 Corinthians 13
Love in Christ
Wedding Sermon for Jacob Clouthier and Sarah Fack
Saturday of Pentecost VII, St. James the Elder, Apostle, 25 July 2009
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming
Kendrick Mansion Rose Garden
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
There are few things more misunderstood in this world than love. And, it only complicates things that one word in the English language covers so much emotional territory. We should first consider how love is defined by its context in Holy Scripture.
Christians know the truth of 1 John 4:19.We love because He [Jesus] first loved us. In addition, you know John 3:16. For God so loved the world, including both of you, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
Jake and Sarah, you have the love of Christ. Therefore, you are given to love one another. Those of us gathered here have anticipated this day for a long time. We celebrate with you today, and pray the Lord’s blessings for you. A Christian wedding is not primarily about the wedding day. A Christian wedding is about spending the rest of your lives together, in the love of Christ. God’s love for you in Jesus never ends.
The love of God in Christ puts a Gospel understanding upon the sermon text you chose for this day, 1 Corinthians 13. By itself, we hear law, condemnation, where we have failed to love perfectly in the past. Even hearing the word “love” is a command to every listener. We fail daily by thought, word, deed, and by what we leave undone. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
So, then, is this beautiful, traditional wedding text only law? No. God is love. Nothing in all creation is able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Now listen again in the light of Christ’s love for you: Jesus is patient and kind; Jesus does not envy or boast; He is not arrogant or rude. He does not insist on its own way, because He followed His Father’s way; Jesus is not irritable or resentful; Jesus does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. He is truth. Jesus bears all things, including your sin and that of the whole world, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, even the cross and grave. Jesus never ends. He is the eternal Son of God begotten of His Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, who died and was raised for you and for your salvation. All because of God’s love. God’s love for you in Jesus never ends.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
Your engagement has come to an end. That is the partial. Today you become man and wife. That is a perfect, holy union of heart, body, and mind. You were friends first, and then “noticed” each other. That is a special beginning. Your wedding at Trail End (Kendrick Mansion) has been planned as the beginning of a life together. Therefore, your dating days, though, should never be over. Continue to date, dress up for one another, work to impress each other. Nurture the loving feelings you have through loving actions. Love as you have already been loved in Christ.
I pray that you found premarital preparation classes to be a blessing. Your deep, long-term love for one another has allowed you to let go of less important things so that you may hold on to one another. This is how mature commitment-love shows itself. Commitment love endures when romantic love fades, and leads to the renewal of romantic love.
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” These words echo part of the traditional epistle reading for Christian weddings, Ephesians 5: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor …."Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Marriage is a mystery. It is the honorable estate instituted and blessed by God in a beautiful garden before humanity’s fall into sin. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “It is not your love which sustains the marriage, but from now on the marriage that sustains your love.” Again:“It is not your love which sustains the marriage, but from now on the marriage that sustains your love.” Holy Matrimony is also the picture of Christ and His bride, the Church. Today’s feasting after this ceremony merely anticipates the Marriage Feast of the Lamb in His kingdom which will have no end.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Why is love the greatest? That is a great question. Faith and hope are always “in” something, or rather Someone, capital S, named Jesus. Faith and hope both trust in what is not seen. They look toward the future, as we do today. Love is greatest, because of faith and hope are in Christ Jesus. We love because He first loved us. We have faith and hope in Him because He first loved us. His love and His Word endure forever and are among the few things we have in this life that we will be able to take with us to heaven. Because of His love and His Word, His people dwell with Him forever.
Jesus told Mary and Martha that one thing is necessary in this life—hearing Him and His Word, sitting at His feet. My prayer for you both is that you will continue to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of your life, together. When we abide in Him, He abides in us. If we cut ourselves off from Him, our faith would eventually die. Daily hear or read His Word together. Pray together and for one another. Receive His Gifts together regularly at Divine Service where the Lord delivers His gifts. Nothing in all of creation is more valuable because the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation you receive by faith through Word and Sacrament will go with you to the life to come and nourish your faith live and married life. Forgive one another as you have been forgiven and dwell in the house of the Lord forever, for God’s love for you in Jesus never ends. Amen.
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.