Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash
Mount Olive Lutheran Church—Billings, MT
INI + AMEN.
Today isn’t about you two, but it is for you. Marriage isn’t about you either, but again, it is for you. “For you”—the way of Gift. Gift from the Lord. Marriage isn’t just some contract couples choose to enter on their own. Husbands and wives living together—the only proper way of living together—isn’t about them. That sort of arrangement is for them, for you Emmi, for you Adam. It is Gift, all the Lord’s doing. His doing for you. Marriage is His gift to you, the way He gifts each of you to each other.
The way of the world is the way of contract, of legal obligation, of rights and privileges. Now, some of those things are helpful in a world that doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to because of sin and what it’s done to us and our relationships with each other. But those things aren’t the substance of marriage, and they won’t keep your marriage going.
Your love for each won’t keep your marriage going either. Your love for each other isn’t the foundation of your marriage. God marrying you two together is the foundation of your love for each other. The love that grows from your married life together is far deeper than what’s brought you to this point. In fact, if marriage were all about your love for each other, then marriage would be all about you, and it would depend on the amount and quality and sincerity of your love for each other. That sort of marriage is doomed to fail.
The Lord has a different way. His is the way of Love, but Emmi not your love for Adam, or Adam your love for Emmi. No, His Love because “God is love.” Jesus is Love. We see that Jesus is Love at Calvary, where He gave His life for His bride, the Church. On the cross for His Bride Jesus “bears all things, endures all things,”, all our sins. There Jesus left His Father, left His mother, too, to hold fast to his wife, so that His bride would be created from His side, like Eve was from Adam’s side. From Jesus’ spear-pierced side water flowed out, “the washing of water with the Word,” Holy Baptism, how He sanctifies His bride. From His side also came blood, how He feeds and cherishes His Bride, through the Supper of His body and blood. That’s how “we’re members of His body.”
All this Jesus does for you—all of you. Crucified for you, and He came back to life on the Third Day for you. In His saving you, Jesus is “patient and kind.” He “does not envy or boast.” He “is not proud or rude.” He “doesn’t insist on His own way,” “but gave Himself up” “unto death, even death on the cross.” Jesus “keeps no record of wrong,” but He canceled “the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” At Calvary He said, “It is finished!” You are redeemed, have forgiveness for your sins in Jesus—only in Him.
He Gifts out His love in the forgiveness of sins. He showered His forgiveness and love upon each of you in your Baptisms. There He claims us as His own, giving us the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of salvation and as the source of new life. Through Baptism you are a new creation in Christ Jesus, as Paul says, “created for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we would walk in them.” Baptized for eternal life. Baptized for living this life. Baptized for marriage. All the Lord’s Gift.
The Lord who gifts salvation, who gifts His forgiveness, now is gifting you two to each other. He baptized you to live a new life, a life of being a living sacrifice. He grafts you into Himself with His body and blood, so that you would bear much fruit. Living in marriage is where you will use your baptisms, where the Lord’s body and blood will bear fruit through you: “faith toward God and sincere love for each other.”
The Lord’s worked this all out for each of you! His gift. Not just the church stuff—marriage! Emmi a gift for Adam. Adam a gift for Emmi. And as He gifts His love and mercy and forgiveness through His Word and Sacraments, suddenly, and in the way of Gift, He bears His fruit in each of you toward the other one, and then He’ll do the same through you toward the children He gifts to you. He gifts it all. Delivers His fruit from the Father through His Spirit-filled churchy Gifts. His fruit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
“It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make a helper complimentary to him.” “They are no longer two but one.” “God joins together.” E created just for A. A the only man in the whole world just for E. So it was in Eden. So it is today. “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” The bride’s response from Song of Solomon 2: “My beloved is mine, and I am his.”
God prepared this moment, this marriage beforehand. Moved history to make it happen. Prepared each of you for it, too, Emmi for Adam, Adam for Emmi. Now He’s gifting it to you. He knows jolly well how to carry you through it, too. Because it’s not really about Eve and Adam, or Adam and Emmi. It’s for you, the Lord’s gift to you. It’s about Christ saving His bride, the Church. He makes her holy, feeds her, cherishes her, forgives her, works on her and through her and in her. All of you, too!
Christ is died and raised from the dead. He’s alive right now. He’s working to save you, to give good gifts to you. “Every good gift is from above, from the Father,” delivered by the Son. Not just the good gifts of this life—marriage, kids, family. Not just Adam for Emmi and Emmi for Adam. Jesus delivers salvation through His Holy-Spirit-filled Word and Sacraments. One day Jesus will gather His Bride, the Church, to Himself to celebrate His “marriage feast, in His kingdom which has no end.” All of us who believe in Him will be there with Him for through His Baptism and His body and blood, “we are members of His body” now and forever.
INI + AMEN.