R&A Wedding Sermon
Randi & Anita, family, friends,
Whenever I’m asked to officiate at a wedding, I ask the couple why they’re getting married. Usually they tell me they’re in love. Not Randi & Anita.
At least, not in those words. Instead they described the way they shared life, shared emotions, shared goals with each other. Especially in the middle of grief, they spoke of sharing the grieving process. They know that life isn’t only sadness, so they spoke of the joy of doing things together, sharing experiences with each other, and being committed to a close relationship - just with each other. They didn’t need to say they were in love. They simply loved each other and were determined to keep on doing so.
Not Randi & Anita.
They didn’t need to talk about being in love. They were simply loving each other and determined to keep on doing so.
That’s the way people are wired. ‘Way back in the beginning God said it wasn’t good for a person to be alone. We’re created for relationships, created to live in community, created for love.
But love is a big word in English. We use the word “love” for so many things, it’s hard to pin down it’s meaning. Except that you don’t love your spouse the way you love your new apartment, the way you love the Blue Jays, or the way you love your new shoes.
We read a few verses in God’s Word about love. Anita and I debated back and forth about what Bible passage I should speak on tonight. She convinced me that this is the best one. My argument was that these verse aren’t specifically about marriage but about loving your neighbour. Anita wanted to use it anyway.
As I planned and prepared, I saw that she’s right. Loving your spouse is unique, the love and privileges of a marriage relationship are unlike any other relationship you have. Yet it’s also similar. It’s connected to the 2nd greatest commandment: love your neighbour as yourself. You’re never going to have a neighbour who is closer to you than sharing a home, sharing a bedroom, and living together faithfully for the next 25, 35, 45 years. Neighbours don’t get closer than that.
The problem is that loving someone else is hard. The standard is high. The temptations are high. The failure rate is high.
It’s terribly easy to become impatient and unkind. Envy, boasting, and pride pollute love if you’re not vigilant. Dishonouring your neighbour, becoming self-seeking, easily angered and counting the numbers of times your spouse has wronged you - these things rise up surprisingly easily, even when we think we’re guarding against them. But love doesn’t delight in that kind of stuff. Love rejoices in the truth.
The truth is, on your own you cannot love perfectly. I know you’re determined and hopeful now. I hope the glow of being newlyweds never grows dull. Marriage is where we learn to love our neighbours, to forgive them when they disappoint us, or let us down.
There’s another spot in the Bible where God’s love for the disciples of Jesus is compared to marriage. Married couples are encouraged to lay down their lives for each other, to pour out love and respect for each other, just as Jesus lay down his life and poured his love into his followers. Our love for all our neighbours, esp. in marriage, can be drawn for the love God pours into us through Jesus. The same forgiveness and grace that God offers to people is necessary to make marriage successful, lasting, and sweet.
The same kind of forgiveness and grace that God offers makes marriage sweet.
Randi & Anita, I’ve excited for you as you renew your vows. I’m excited as you embark on your married life. It wasn’t the start you had dreamed and planned. But as you head out on this journey in sickness and in health, in seasons of grief or great joy, you have had your love for each other tested. Your experiences this spring and summer have strengthened your love and deepened your relationship. May God continue to strengthen your love in the months, years, and decades to come.