The Rev. Paul J Cain
Ephesians 5:1-2, 22-33; 6:1-4
Cleansed by the Washing of Water with the Word
Saturday of Easter VII, 11 June 2011
Blessing of a Civil Marriage
Wedding Sermon for Daniel Austin Nyberg and Jessica Ann Burnett
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming)
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Daniel and Jessica, Ephesians 5 is an inspiring text for your special day: Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Today we walk in love as God ordained it in Christ.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Ephesians 5 shows how a Christian wife shows her love. Now if a husband commands her to do something contrary to God’s clear will in the Scriptures, she must obey God rather than men. Another benefit of honoring the husband as the head of the household is showing a united front of love and care and concern for the children.
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, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "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.
Husbands don’t have it easy in this day and age—not that they ever did. What you have been given to do in Ephesians 5, Daniel, is to love your wife sacrificially, as Christ loved the church. Your love is a verb, continually in action in care and service and protection for your wife and entire family. You are not the King of your new household. You are a servant with authority. You show your love not only by your actions, but also by your words. Tell Jessica you love her. Tell her you respect her. Tell her you need her. Tell her you appreciate her.
Daniel, you are unique. I’ve performed many weddings. I’ve administered many baptisms. You are the first groom I’ve baptized as part of his preparation for holy matrimony. Daniel means “God is my Judge” or “Justice from God.” Like your bride Jessica, you have been cleansed by the washing of water with the very Word of God. Jessica, I finally found your name in Genesis 11:29. Iscah was daughter of Haran, and sister or half-sister of Lot and Milcah. Your name means means "foresight", or being able to see the potential in the future. You saw great potential in Daniel. And you have both received forgiveness, life, and salvation, gifts of true justice from God in Christ.
In a Christian marriage, both of you are to be reflections of and examples of Christ-like love, especially to the rest of the family. The love that Christ has for His Church and for individual believers like you is not fleeting. He is committed, in love, to you. He died for you. He Rose from the dead for you. He gave you the benefits of His crucifixion and Resurrection when He placed His name on you in Holy Baptism and continues to give these benefits to you in Absolution and His Supper. His love is commitment love.
Commitment love is what gets couples through the tough times. After all, forgiving each other will make your life together a lot more bearable, and a lot more enjoyable. Lutherans don’t consider matrimony a sacrament because it does not promise or deliver the forgiveness of sins like Holy Baptism or Holy Communion, but Holy Matrimony could never survive if forgiveness of sins isn’t actively practiced between husband and wife, parents and children, among siblings, and between each of you and God. Commitment love can’t sustain itself. We love, as Christians, because Christ first loved us. You need to be regularly reminded of Christ’s love for you and shown His love. That is why being united in attending the Sunday Divine Service, actively engaging in Bible study together, and being committed to family devotions are all so important.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land." Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Parents are to love, clothe, house, and feed their children, as well as give them some space once they’re on their own, yet Ephesians presents the most important parental responsibility. Having Christ at the center of the home means supernatural support, an abundance of forgiveness, and the truest way that husband and wife are one flesh, cleansed by the washing of water with the Word. Amen.
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.