Marriage, A Good Gift
July 5, 2017 Pastor: Rev. George Fyler
Verse: James 1:17
This is finest wedding homily I've ever heard. Whether you are married, engaged, or a young adult in need of true knowledge regarding marriage, consider this required reading. Rev. Dean Kavouras
James 1:17 ~ Marriage a “good gift”
[Sermon following the Scripture reading Genesis 2:7, 18-24]
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Dear beloved of the LORD,
For the children of God, marriage is such a “good gift.”Not a “perfect” gift but a “good” gift. As we heard in the reading from Genesis 2, marriage has its roots in the dirt of creation. It isn’t a lofty ideal, a religious concept or some romantic illusion. Marriage is grounded in the dust of our origin, our being male and female made in the image of God. Marriage is about sex and food and drink and house and home and bed and table and children and community. It embraces the fullness of who we are as human beings—the good, the bad, the ugly. Marriage is about sin and grace… forgiveness and faithfulness.
God recognized that it wasn’t good for man to be alone—something we men prove to ourselves and to the world repeatedly. Adam had everything from aardvark to zebra to hang-out with, but not a suitable helper among them. No companion and counterpart. No one with whom to have communion. So, God acted and made a woman. Adam lost a rib, and gained something in return. What he lost of himself he now receives as a gift and embraces in the form of another—a woman. She is like him…but not totally like him. Equal…but not interchangeable. When Adam saw the woman God made for him he said, “Finally! She’s like me. Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.(Gen, 2:23) She’s a “good gift!”
That divine creativity sets the pattern we are following today. A man leaves father and mother and is joined to his bride. A theme of Creation is echoed— “Two become one flesh.”And as the oft ignored next verse says, “They were naked without shame.” Marriage ishowand acceptably where you can be naked without shame. In any other place or any other way, there is shame. But not here. Here God approves and blesses. And what God joins together man can’t separate. It’s the communion of man and woman. Two as one flesh. God says so. Don’t mess with it. It’s a “good gift!”
Now, consider the “perfect gift” joined to this “good gift.” Rejoice and learn how God enjoys this image of marriage. It’s the chief picture of the passion of Christ for His Church. He loves her to death on the cross. It’s the picture of the Church’s passion for Christ. She drops dead to her life and lives joined to her Groom … to Christ. The church is Christ’s Eve, drawing her life from His wounded side as He slept in death on the cross. St. Paul says this is a great mystery, a thing hidden but now revealed. Husband and wife embracing one another are a sacramental sign of this passion of Christ for the Church. In your married life,you are sacramental signs for the whole world of what the unconditional, passionate love of Christ for the world is all about. And once you’ve got Christ in the picture, page through your Bibles and you’ll see it all over the place.
Jesus at the wedding at Cana in Galilee, is a preview of the great scene in the Book of Revelation where heaven is revealed as a glorified city—risen Jerusalem—coming down the aisle like a bride, being wedded to her bridegroom Jesus to host a marriage supper of food and drink that has no end. You are about to become a sign of all that.
You’re God’s gifts to each other. You’re good for each other. And you’re being together as husband and wife is good for all of us. It strengthens our community. It builds up your congregation. It adds to the backbone of our society, which seems to be increasingly spineless when it comes to understanding and honoring “real marriage” rooted in the first of Creation.
We’re rooting for a lifelong passionate run for the two of you, rooted in the Passion of Jesus and overflowing with passion for each other. Not with your heads up in the clouds, but with all four feet anchored in the dirt of creation, and all four hands at work in harmony.
Marriage is not a romantic ride. Forget romance. Romance is for courtship and dating—that’s behind you. Go for love. Don’t just skip along the surface of love, like a flat stone on a shallow lake. Swim in the deep end. Give us a real marriage to look at.
We need it.
Don’t play the role of husband and wife. XXXXXX, be a real husband to XXXXXX. She needs that. Be the head of your household.XXXXXX, be a real wife to XXXXXX. He needs that. Be the body of your household. I know it’s not fashionable to speak this way today, but we haven’t improved marriage one iota with our politically correct silliness. You are head and body joined as one. Draw on each other’s strength in Christ as you work and play and worship together. Don’t settle for anything less. Give us a real marriage. God knows we need a few.
Here’s more on married living with the “perfect gift.” Every day and night recognize that Christ is in the middle of everything in your marriage. Notice I didn’t say, put Christ in the middle. You don’t put Christ anywhere that He hasn’t already put Himself. Nor do we make Christ anything that He isn’t already. I didn’t say put Christ first, as though He were a priority among your other priorities. He’s the middle, the center, the focus, the source, the Word.
He’s the Word who made you, who called you into existence, who holds you in His death and life, who reconciled you to God together with the whole world on a good Friday between noon and three. It’s His robe of righteousness that you wear like a Teflon suit of forgiveness. It’s His innocence that God sees when He looks at you. It’s His blessedness that is yours. You live under the sign of His Baptism. You are citizens of His kingdom. So, worship Him at your table and at His table. Hear His Word together and pray together at your table. Worship Him at work and at play. Deal with each other and receive each other through Him. He’s the center of your marriage, not you.
Forgive one another…regularly and recklessly. Jesus pours the good wine of His forgiveness with a generous hand … your cup runneth over. You are justified sinners—as we all are—sinners to the core justified in the death of Jesus. That means you’re going to step on each other’s toes, but don’t let it stop the dance. God’s not stopping the music. You are dyed-in-the-wool sinners, but your robes are bleached pure by the blood of the Lamb. Now live and love in the freedom of that forgiveness.
XXXXXX and XXXXXX, we are thrilled for you and we rejoice to be here today to celebrate your marriage. We pray for you, bless you, and soon we’ll raise a toast of Cana wine to you. May your lives together be rooted in the goodness of God’s creation and the freedom of His redemption. May your passion for each other be a sign of the Passion of Jesus that embraced the world in His death and the passionate love of the Church for her Savior. May your table be a feast of fat things and fine wines, an appetizer of the marriage supper of the Lamb in His kingdom which has no end.
As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.