The Rev. Paul J Cain
Genesis 1:27; 2:7; 15, 18-24; Ecclesiastes 4:7-12
Saturday of Easter II, 07 May 2011
Wedding Sermon for Jay Joseph Nordhausen and Abbie Mae Oswald
At Zion Lutheran Church, Imperial, Nebraska
(while Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming)
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
I’m sure you can imagine Adam out there in the garden looking over the livestock. All Adam had to do in the early days of the Eden Ranch was to name all the livestock, the birds, and every beast of the field. And Adam didn’t have to give oral reasons. J Before the Fall, judging livestock must have been easy. Everything was “very good.” J “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” And the Lord wanted Adam to care for all His creatures. But there was something missing.
Later we read, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’” This is something the Lord wanted Adam to learn by experience.
“So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.”
The Lord had it planned all along. Creation was not yet completed. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” And this becomes a picture of Christ and the Church.
And here’s how the Lord created Eve: “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’” Eve was the helper fit for Adam.
Jay, Abbie is the helper the Lord made for you. And then we hear the Genesis text that ties together Ephesians 5 And Matthew 19: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Abbie, Jay is leaving his parents’ household, vowing to cleave to you as one flesh, one new family. That is quite a commitment! Abbie, you are making a similar commitment to Jay, to set up a new household and family together.
Commitment Love is not the most romantic thing on a daily basis, but for the long term, it really is. Abbie, one day you might ask Jay, “Why do you love me?” You’ll probably want him to come up with a long, romantic list. God bless you, Jay, when you can! But Abbie, don’t be offended if Jay simply answers, “Because I promised God I would love you.”
Commitment love is what will keep you together when romantic love fades. Commitment love is what will make each of you more willing to serve and to forgive the other. After all, forgiving each other will make your life together a lot more bearable, a lot more enjoyable. That is why some of the best advice I can share with you is to be kind to one another. God created marriage before the fall into sin. Marriages today need all the help they can get, especially the hard work of forgiving one another in Jesus’ Name. Commitment love is what gets couples through the tough times.
The book of Ecclesiastes gives further explanation to the Lord’s earlier assessment of Adam: “It is not good that the man should be alone…”
Solomon writes, “Again, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, ‘For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?’ This also is vanity and an unhappy business.”
Solomon doesn’t necessarily have married couples in mind here in chapter 4, yet his words are wise: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Cord, another word for (Condensed from Wikipedia) common twisted rope, generally consists of three strands. It might have an S twist or a Z twist, but it still is made up of three strands. Fibers are spun into yarns and yarns are formed into strands. The twist of the yarn is opposite that of the strand and that in turn is opposite to that of the rope. It is this counter-twist, introduced with each successive operation, which helps to hold the final rope.
The strand of Jay Joseph Nordhausen and the strand of Abbie Mae Oswald are today “spun together,” and declared “one flesh” by the Lord Himself.
If you knew a rope was so weak that it would break, would you use it? You’ve been raised to know better! If the defect were pointed out in advance, one would be foolish to use it. Yet, many couples entering into marriage use a faulty rope. A rope made of only two strands will easily break. It is guaranteed to fall apart.
It isn’t just the “twisting” that makes a rope. It isn’t just a wedding that makes a marriage. Today we celebrate Holy Matrimony because the Lord is making a threefold cord that is not easily broken. He, Jesus Christ, is the third cord that will hold your marriage together as you live together in the holy estate of matrimony as God ordained it so long as you both shall live.
You have chosen to be married in a Christian Church. This is a significant decision. A church wedding means far more than a beautiful backdrop. It means that you are asking the Lord’s blessing upon your union. Marriages can be performed by the Justice of the Peace or the Captain of a ship. A judge doesn’t expound upon the Word of God in a sermon like this.
You have chosen to begin your life together by focusing on God’s institution of marriage and what He says about it in His Word. That is the whole point of extensive premarital counseling, in person and on SKYPE. You have not just been preparing for one special day, but for a life together in Christ. Not only are you celebrating with friends and family, but in a church wedding, the Body of Christ is gathered around you to support you in your life from this day forward.
A Church wedding is first and foremost a worship service, where the Lord gives His gifts and His people offer thanksgiving and praise. You have chosen music with texts that glorify God and extol His gifts rather than selections that only mention romantic love and things for this life. We thank God for the love you have for one another and pray that He will bless your commitment in a truly holy matrimony.
You have chosen a Christian wedding, not just a Church wedding, and that means something. You not only call upon the Lord to be with you today, but to sustain your whole life as husband and wife, as you build your household, your family, your home.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “God is guiding your marriage. Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power. In your love you see only the heaven of your bliss. Through marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility toward the world and to mankind. As God is infinitely higher than man, so the sanctity, the privilege and the promise of marriage are higher than the sanctity, the privilege and the promise of love. It is not your love which sustains the marriage, but from now on the marriage that sustains your love. God intends you to found your marriage on Christ.”
A cord of three strands is not easily broken. And a married relationship intertwined with Christ Jesus is not easily broken either. Again: “It is not your love which sustains the marriage, but from now on the marriage that sustains your love.” Keep your eyes on Jesus for He keeps His eyes on you. Jesus shed His blood to give you forgiveness, life, and salvation, and has joined you this day as husband and wife. Amen.
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.