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Sunday, May 20, 2012
Steve's Sermon for Susan and Andrew's Wedding
Matthew 19:4-6May 19,
& Andrew’s Wedding
a man shall leave his father and mother…” Speaking from a personal point of
view, it seems a little unfair that our Lord didn’t mention that a woman also
leaves her father and mother. As I know your mother has pointed out to you
often this week, Susan, here you are all grown up, a woman, leaving father and
mother to be married. And here you are now getting married to a man who is
leaving his father and mother to be with you.
your mother and I, along with Neil and Kathy, are accepting—in fact, we’re
counting on it—is that God has planned this all from the beginning, from the
start of creation. In the Gospel lesson, “Look how it all begins” is Jesus’
response to a group of Pharisees who came questioning Him about divorce.
Instead of debating fine points of casuistry, He draws our intention to the
original intent of marriage. God is “he which made them at the beginning male
is citing Genesis 1:27 as He
says God is the one who “made them at the beginning male and female.” In that
verse about our creation it also says that God made them in His image. In fact,
the two phrases are apposition. To be male and female unpacks and explains what
it means to be in God’s image. God in Godself is neither male nor female, but
for human beings to fully and completely bear the image of God we needed to be
made in two genders, to be given as part of our nature the possibility of
relating to each other across a fundamental distinction and difference.
that same place in Genesis God said, “Let us
make human beings in our image.” We
can debate this with any Old Testament scholars in the congregation, but I
follow the long established tradition of the Church in saying that the use of
the first person plural there is the voice of the Trinity speaking together.
That “us” is Father, Son and Holy Spirit declaring their intent to create human
beings to reflect the very plurality and relationship that is at the heart of
who God is.
I began with, the Gospel tells us that Jesus quoted the creation account a
little further on in Genesis 2:24, to say “For this cause
shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they
twain shall be one flesh.” What that means is that the relationship between
husband and wife is designed to reflect the difference within unity that is
basic to God, who is both three and one.
all eternity the three persons of God enjoy the wonderful harmony of being and
purpose that’s heard there in that “Let us…” by which they created human
beings. It’s a perfect dance of being different yet being one. And God intends
that marriage, that your marriage, Andrew and Susan, should reflect and become
something like the image of that perfect dance.
are so much alike. Kathy remarks often and we the rest of your family and
friends would all agree that this is a match made in heaven. You both are
people born to academics. You both love things ancient and medieval. You both
love the outdoors. You congratulate each other on use of the future perfect.
Most of all, you share a deep faith in Jesus Christ and love the ancient,
traditional ways of His Church.
you are different. You are male and female. You are extrovert and introvert.
You are medievalist and classicist. You are Canadian and American! And soon you
will have discovered (give me points there) that you are different in a myriad
of other ways that you only learn as you
set up a home together and find yourself wanting to do things in different
ways, whether it’s ordering a kitchen or raising children. Sometimes those
differences will seem insurmountable. Yet the plan for you is that you will
find, with God’s help, a blessed and beautiful unity across those differences.
in your love for things Greek, you’ve come to appreciate the icons of the Greek
church. They are paintings designed to be windows into heaven, pictures that we
look through in order to see spiritual reality. One of the finest things I’ve
learned in the past few years is that marriage is meant to be an icon of the
Trinity. In desiring husband and wife to be “one flesh,” God means for your
relationship, your marriage, to reflect His own perfect relationship of unity
to everyone who looks at you and gets to know you.
a tall order. We are not God. It’s terribly easy for human beings to let our
differences push us apart, even when we want desperately to be together, to be
one in heart and mind. Jesus addressed that divisive spirit in us as He
admonished the Pharisees and everyone else, “What God therefore hath joined
together, let no one put asunder.”
the work of the rest of your lives now, to keep together what God has put
together. You told us the other night that you met on a Pentecost Sunday. It’s
clear that part of the work of the Holy Spirit that day was to bring you two
together. Now as you stand together and offer vows to each other and hear your
priest pronounce you husband and wife, the Spirit is at work again to sanctify
that union He began two years ago. Then your task will be to let that same Holy
Spirit work out and complete that union in all the years before you.
a tall order. We might wonder just what it would look like to reflect the
divine relationship in a human relationship. Fortunately, the Lord doesn’t
leave us in the dark about it. Susan, you love recipes and cooking. Andrew, you
love music and singing. The Epistle lesson from I Corinthians 13 is the perfect recipe, the
perfect score for what it is to be “twain,” to be different people, and yet to come
together in a delicious, harmonious relationship in which you are one.
charity, divine love, is the heart, the glue of the relationship between the
persons of God and my prayer is that it will be heart of your relationship,
Andrew and Susan. It is charity, love, says the Apostle, which reaches across
your “twainness” and holds you together. It’s charity that gives you patience
with each other’s differences. It’s charity that makes you kind toward each
other when you look at things in different ways. It’s charity that keeps you
from envying each other for what one has and the other does not. It’s charity
that banishes pride over one another as one of you gets better grades or earns
can’t go through it all, but you heard it. It’s charity, God’s love, the love
that exists between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that will keep you together.
It’s the love by which God forgave us our sins in Jesus Christ, and it’s the
love which will allow you to forgive each other when your differences cause
each other pain.
just remember that this love which keeps you one is God’s love. It’s His gift. It’s why the Psalmist said, “Except the
Lord build the house their labour is but lost that build it.” You can’t do it
on your own, but by His grace in Christ, God will build the house of marriage,
of being one together, in the two of you.
as I said, you will fulfill God’s plan for you. Together you will be an icon of
God’s own perfect joy and harmony, an icon of the Trinity. And doing that, you
will also help fulfill God’s plan for us all. I think you know very well that
it’s not all about the two of you. You’ve invited your friends and families to
be here today and that’s partly because God’s plan is for everyone to enter
into the loving life of the Trinity. Insofar as you reflect and image that life
in your marriage, you are helping and blessing all of us to know and live in
God’s life ourselves. Your marriage is meant to be God’s gift, God’s icon, to
everyone you know, everyone you love.
from this day on, learn to be one. Discover what it means to be different and
yet together in a holy love that will not be put asunder. Enjoy the harmony of
the parts, the blending of the ingredients that are your separate lives, and
let them come together to be a new and truly beautiful life in the image of
the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, blessed Three-in-One, rest
upon you to make you two-in-one now and always.