Summary: A short but challenging wedding sermon.
It is an absolute joy to be able to celebrate today with you, and to pray for you in your future life together. [x and y] are now husband and wife; and you (friends and family) have agreed to do all you can to support and uphold them in their marriage now and in the years to come – always!
I once heard a friend say that, “Man is incomplete until he’s married, and then – he’s finished!” Joking aside, my prayer is that [x] will ‘finish’ [y], and [y] will ‘finish’ [x]; and what I mean by ‘finish’ is like a protective layer of paint, or like a varnished piece of furniture that’s been finished.
I read this morning a story about three men of God, a Roman Catholic Priest, a Church of England Vicar and a Jewish Rabbi. They were asked a simple question, “When does life begin?”
The Roman Catholic Priest was quick to answer. He said, “Life begins at the moment of conception.” The Church of England Vicar answered, “Life begins when a child is born.” The Rabbi, always ready to give a thoughtful answer said, “Life begins when the children are married and the mortgage has been paid off.”
The Good News is that New Spiritual Life can begin right now, today! My experience has been that life began when I came to realise that God has a plan and a purpose for my life. When I realised that God sent Jesus into the world because God loves the world, life changed for me. As I began to thank God for the gift of Jesus Christ, new life began in me.
Of course the nearer I get to being 40 years old, the more I appreciate the old saying that ‘Life begins at 40’! More importantly, the older I get, the more I realise that God can start something new every day, because God’s blessings are new every morning.
God is starting something new with this marriage. [x and y] are both created in the image of God. You (friends and family) are all created in the image of God, and God longs to breathe his life into our hearts, into our lives, into our daily challenges, into our relationships and into our marriages. Literally, God wants to breathe new life into you and me today. If we ask him, God will fill us with his Holy and Life-giving Spirit. My prayer is that [x and y] will go on being filled with God’s Holy and Life-giving Spirit. Jesus promised his Spirit to everyone who asks.
In our first Bible reading (John 15: 9-12), John the cousin and close friend of Jesus was recalling words which Jesus spoke. Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” God’s love for Jesus is equal to Jesus’ love for you and me; and Jesus’ love for you and me was supremely demonstrated when Jesus died on the cross for our sins.
Jesus loves us people so much that he laid down his life for us; and he said to his friends and his followers, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” Jesus laid aside his majesty and laid down his life for us, because of his love for us, and he asks us to do the same for each other. In relationships, and in marriage, this is how God has designed us to be, so that our joy will be complete.
So, [x and y], my job is not to tell you how to live your lives; but I do want to encourage you to lay down your lives for one another, just as Jesus laid down his life for you. That could mean making sacrifices for one another. It certainly means putting our own interests second and our partner’s well-being first. It means praying for one another; praying that you will both follow God’s plans and purposes for your lives; and it means treating each other as Jesus treats us: When we confess our sins God forgives us, and he chooses to remember our sins no more.
That’s Good News! When we say sorry to God and intend to live life his way, he doesn’t produce a shopping list of all the previous times when we’ve messed up! Laying down our lives for each other means always being ready to forgive and to forget, and placing each other’s needs before our own.
Some of you know that in the week leading up to a wedding I have a look at the latest ‘Love is …’ Comic Strip. Those of us who are advancing in years will know what I mean, but others will not have a clue what I mean: On Thursday of this week I came across a Bride and Groom and the caption reads simply: “Love is …commitment.”