The Rev. Paul J Cain
1 John 4:13-21
Because He First Loved Us
Saturday after Pentecost, 29 May 2010
Wedding Sermon for Jess Holmgren and Stacy Roush
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
A little boy playing in the mud. A little girl playing with dolls. You can picture the scenes in your mind. There's nothing unusual in either, but… Who knew that a young boy's increasingly bigger and deeper holes around the neighborhood or in the field would to lead to Wyoming and a career as a geologist! And who could have imagined that the little doll hospital in a young girl's room would lead to North Dakota and a doctorate in physical therapy!
We rock back-and-forth before we crawl and crawl before we wobble and wobble before we walk and walk before we run. And we learn what to say as human beings by listening to our parents. We learn what to believe and say as Christians by listening to our heavenly Father. We love because He first loved us.
Norman Nagel: "Our Lord speaks and we listen. His Word bestows what it says. Faith that is born from what is heard acknowledges the gifts received with eager thankfulness and praise. Music is drawn into this thankfulness and praise, enlarging and elevating the adoration of our gracious giver God.
"Saying back to Him what he has said to us, we repeat what is most true and sure. Most true and sure is His name, which he put upon us with the water of our Baptism. We are His. This we acknowledge at the beginning of the Divine Service [and today's service]. Where His name is, there is He. Before Him we acknowledge that we are sinners, and we plead for forgiveness. His forgiveness is given us, and we, freed and forgiven, acclaim Him as our great and gracious God as we apply to ourselves the words He has used to make Himself known to us.
"The rhythm of our [Christian] worship is from Him to us, and then from us back to Him. He gives His gifts, and together we receive and extol them… (Lutheran Worship, p. 6)
Simply said: "We love because he first loved us." This is the basic truth St. John communicates in 1 John 4: By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Something else happened in Laramie, Wyoming. You have the love friends have for one another that grew into romantic love. You two have a deeper commitment love in addition to that romantic love. You can express that love to one another even "When You Say Nothing at All." You reflect God's love in Christ to you when you love one another as friends, as you continue dating you whole life long, and as your words "I will" express your loving commitment to one another.
(Paraphrasing Vince Gill) "The smile on God's fact lets you know that He loves you. There's a truth in His Word saying He'll never leave you. The promise of Christ says He'll catch you if ever you fall. God says it best…when He gave His Son for you."
As you settle down in Casper, remember these words by Jaroslav Vajda of the Lord's blessing: "In this union I have joined you Husband and wife, Now, My children, live together As heirs of life: Each the other's gladness sharing, Each the other's burdens bearing, Now, My children, live together As heirs of life." Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.