Summary: A Wedding Sermon
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, you sent your Son among us to reveal your grace and truth for our lives, and to give his life for our redemption. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds to hear your word, that we might be strengthened in faith and empowered to live our lives in the power of your love for us, as revealed through Christ’s death and resurrection. This we ask in his holy name. Amen.
During our last pre-marriage session together, Matt, Michelle and I sat down to plan this service. They picked out the lessons and hymns, and read through the various parts of the liturgy. Finally, we discussed the aspect of the meditation or sermon for their wedding.
It was then that Michelle gave me an unusual compliment. She said, “I really liked the sermon that you preached at Craig and Sam’s wedding,” the implication being that she would like me to repeat it. Of course, as I thought about her comment, I realized that it could equally be construed to mean that she didn’t like some of the other sermons that I’ve preached, and wanted to insure a more positive outcome.
Well, I’ve taken her advice, and have reworked that sermon that she liked. Thus, for those of you who were in attendance at Crag and Sam’s wedding, much of what I am about to say may sound familiar. But then,
God’s Spirit may enable us to hear his word with deeper understanding.
Matt and Michelle, I believe that you would agree that almost every marriage begins beautifully. After all, if you didn’t feel a sense of beauty in your relationship, I doubt that we would be here to celebrate your marriage. Yet maintaining the beauty in your relationship with each other through the years, is much more difficult.
However, God has not left you helpless, as you strive to walk together in faith through the rest of your lives. God has a great investment in you both, as his baptized children whom he loves. And God promises to stand by you, to provide you with his love, that you might each continue to grow in your love for each other.
Of course, telling you, or any bride and groom standing before an altar, that you must grow in love in order to sustain your relationship with each other over the years to come, sounds as needless to say as commanding a three-year-old to eat a candy bar. After all, isn’t that what marriage is all about – love?
But the truth is, in the Greek language in which the New Testament was written, there are three distinct words that are translated into English as our one word love. There is the word “Philia,” which describes the kind of love members of a family hold for one another –the kind of love that exists between brothers and sisters. In fact, “Philia” is the root of the name of the largest city in our state – Philadelphia, which means the city of brotherly love.
Then there is the Greek word “Eros.” This word describes the kind of love we begin to experience with puberty. It is the root of our English word “erotic.” It is the kind of love that describes a romantic, sexual longing for another person. And we might assume that you both experience this kind of love for each other, as you come before God to be united in marriage.
Finally, there is the Greek word “Agape.” This word describes the kind of love that God has for us. It describes the kind of love that rises above the emotions of Philia and Eros, to do what is truly in the best interest of another.
Dr. Larry tombs, one of my professors at seminary, told this story as an example of Agape love. “There was a man, whose joy and passion was gardening. Every year, he raised prize-winning produce, and his garden was often pictured in the paper, as one of the best in the area. That was, until the new family moved in to the house next door.
Their ten-year-old daughter loved and raised rabbits. And she was always letting them out of their pen to play in the yard. Of course, those lop-eared creatures couldn’t resist the lure of all that fresh produce in their neighbor’s garden. Needless to say, the relationship between the two families was more than a bit strained. There was no feelings of love between them, brotherly or sexually. They frankly didn’t like each other.
But one day, the man was looking out his window, admiring his garden, when he happened to see the neighbor girl fall from her swing and cry out in despair. She had broken her leg, and her parents were not at home at the time. This man, who did not even like this girl, ran out to help her. He rose above his emotions, and sacrificed his pride to do what was needed to care for this child in need. This is the kind of love that Agape describes.” End quote.