The Rev. Paul J Cain
Swimming in the Same Direction
Saturday of Pentecost VI, 30 July 2011
Wedding Sermon for Hillary Ann Jones and Nicholas James Walrath
At Hettinger Campground
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming)
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Not every couple meets at the Game and Fish Department. It only makes sense that your wedding ceremony is in the Wyoming outdoors, the Cloud Peak wilderness.
Not every couple goes through premarital counseling, either. You even endured one of the sessions via SKYPE rather than in person. I think every couple should intentionally prepare for marriage. The sermon text you have chosen for your wedding day is the reason why.
[Jesus] (He) answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
It doesn’t take a degree in biology to realize that it can be nearly impossible to keep two fish together. Think of the countless fish in the Story Fish Hatchery or how challenging fly fishing would be considering how high and fast the runoff is this year. I’m not talking about keeping two trout together. I don’t have in mind even the Kokanee Salmon of the Flaming Gorge south of Green River. How is it possible to keep the strong and intelligent Hillaryfish in the same pond of holy matrimony with the kind and adventurous Nicholasfish so long as they both shall live? Commitment love created by Jesus Christ is what will keep the two of you swimming in the same direction.
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.
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 Christian wedding, the Body of Christ is gathered around you to support you in your life from this day forward. Christ will help two baptized Christians keep swimming together, and swimming together in the same direction on Sunday mornings is an important part of that.
A Christian wedding is first and foremost a worship service, where the Lord gives His gifts and His people offer thanksgiving and praise. We thank God for the love you have for one another and pray that He will bless your commitment in a truly holy matrimony.
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.”
Again: “It is not your love which sustains the marriage, but from now on the marriage that sustains your love.” Marriage takes work, but it is worth it. Hillary and Nick, knowing the two of you, you’re in for quite an exciting adventure together. As you hike, raft, and fish your way through Montana and snorkel and explore Belize, Lord willing, and when you return home to Wyoming, keep your eyes on Jesus, He who shed His blood to give you forgiveness, life, and salvation. Let no one and no thing separate whom He has joined together this day as husband and wife. Amen.
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.