The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
The Love of Christ
Saturday of Trinity VII, 09 August 2014
Wedding of Miranda Noel Born and Samuel Wyatt Bear
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
These verses were chosen by Wyatt and Miranda for this sermon on their wedding day. Romans 8:38 and 39 answer the questions raised in verse 35: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
“No” is the answer to the second question. “Nothing” is the answer to the first. Here in Romans 8, Paul talks about nothing.
Nothing is a powerful word. It can be used in interesting ways. For example, “Eating plain rice is better than nothing.” Or, “Nothing is better than a good steak.” Does it make any sense to say, “Eating plain rice is better than a good steak”? No! It makes no logical sense. “Nothing,” appears, to mess us up.
Sometimes we don’t make logical sense either. We worry about nothing. Due to sin, our thinkers don’t think perfectly. We can think things that just aren’t true. We worry about clothes. We worry about what people will think. We worry about what people might have thought. We worry about ill family members and our own health. We worry about popularity. We worry about weight. We worry about relationships. We worry about work and school. We worry about moving. We worry about what we don’t have and why we don’t have it. We worry about money. We worry about being loved. We worry that we worry too much. And we do. We waste valuable prayer time by worrying.
When we worry, the thing we worry about becomes the most important thing in the world. It becomes an idol to us—a false god instead of the true God who loves us. No wonder we’re distracted. We worry about nothing, as if “nothing” were powerful enough to separate us from the love of Christ. St. Paul talks about nothing without ever using the word, “nothing.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Jesus loved us first. Our love of Him and our love for one another are imperfect reflections of His love. A couple in love, married in the eyes of the Lord and of Caesar needs more than their feelings for one another for their relationship to survive. They need a marriage. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote in a wedding sermon, “It is not your love which sustains the marriage, but from now on the marriage that sustains your love.” That is why holy matrimony, the lifelong union of one man and one woman wed only to each other, is still a viable institution in 21st Century America. A marriage is built on 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. You need to be regularly reminded of Christ’s love for you and shown His love.
Paul continues: For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It is as John Piper writes, “On the cross Christ endured for us all the punishment required of us because of our sin. And in order that God, as our Father, might be completely for us and not against us forever, Christ has performed for us, in his perfect obedience to God, all that God required of us as the ground of his being totally for us forever” (Piper, John. The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007, page 184).
That Gospel empowers our obedience as a response. Of the one whose delight is in the Word of the Lord, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
We pray for good fruit for you in the Lord, for health, for love, and for prosperity. We rejoice this day, Miranda and Wyatt, in your love for one another. Your Lord does you one better. He loves you. He showed it in a manger, on the cross, and by an empty tomb. He shows it by the absolution—the washing away—of your sins, by Holy Baptism, in the proclamation of His Gospel, and in the delivery of Himself to you in His very Body and Blood for the forgiveness of your sins.
You are loved. Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing. Not tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword. Nothing. Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation. Nothing. Not even the opinions of other people, illness, lack of popularity, relationship challenges, the stress of transitions, or even a new job. You are loved. God showed that love in sending His Son to die for You. He shows you that love now in forgiving you all your sins. He wants you to be certain about His love, no matter how you feel on a given day. Nothing, absolutely nothing, will be able to separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. In all these things we are more than conquerors through Jesus who loved us. Amen.
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Psalm 1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.