Smith-Jones Wedding Sermon
Rev. D. K. Schroeder
1 Corinthians 13
October 27, 2007
TEXT: "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
If you remember when I first met with you, I asked you a very basic question. I asked you why you wanted to get married. Now that sounds like a very obvious question, but you’d be surprised at the different ways people answer it. The two of you however gave a simple, but very good answer. You said you wanted to get married because you loved each other—to such a degree in fact that you wanted to make the commitment to become husband and wife.
I’m going to share a brief story with you, which is true. A husband and wife who had been married quite a few years came to visit their pastor one day. They said, “Pastor, we want to get a divorce.” The pastor was quite surprised, so he asked them, “Why do you want to get a divorce?” The answer he got was, “We just don’t love each other any more.”
The pastor said, “Well, let’s see what the Bible has to say.” And he continued, “The Bible says that husbands and wives are to love each other.” They replied, “Oh, we can’t do that any more.”
So he continued, “Okay then, let’s take it back a step. The Bible says that we are to love our neighbors.After all, you are each other’s closest neighbor.” They replied, “Oh, we can’t love each other that way either.”
So he continued, “Well if you can’t love each other as husband and wife, or a neighbor, then we can take it back even one more step. The Bible says that we are to love our enemies.”
There is a very important lesson being taught here. Love is something that a Christian just cannot escape. The husband and wife were looking for permission, some sort of loophole to get out of being married. They were somehow looking for the pastor’s blessing on their decision to get a divorce. But it just wouldn’t work. For a Christian to say “I don’t love someone any more” is just not an option. Love has to exist on at least some level.
John and Marsha, the wedding text you have chosen are the very famous words of 1 Corinthians 13. You even have them on your bulletin covers. The words are certainly appropriate for you on this day.
However it might surprise you to know that this text really isn’t a specific wedding text. It has a much broader application. These words were written to Christians in general, which speak with regard to all different varieties of love relationships.
Paul wrote these words to Christians who were experiencing all sorts of trouble in their relationships with each other. They were boastful people, they didn’t care for each other, there were displays of anger and resentment amongst them, and they were guilty of all sorts of evil acts. They were Christians, but their actions did not reflect the faith they professed. So they needed direction in their lives. They needed to learn how to love God and love each other in all sorts of various circumstances, which of course includes marriage.
Society has all sorts of flimsy definitions of love. Some center it on romance, or sexual attraction, or whether or not someone makes you feel good. Society’s definition of love often has selfish motives and undertones.
But the Christian defines love far differently. In John’s first epistle, chapter 3 verses 15-16, we read some rather startling definitions of love and hate: “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
Christian love is different than the secular world knows, because it is a sacrificial, self-giving love. John uses Jesus Christ as an example; one who gladly and willingly gave up his own life to save the world from the condemnation of sin.
This is the type of love that you are to show in your daily lives in everything you say and do. You show the world that the love of Christ dwells within you by how you relate to others.
This is of course the love that brings you before God’s altar today. Your love has carried you beyond the basic boyfriend/girlfriend relationship in your lives, to one of a permanent commitment to be husband and wife. You have traded something tentative for something which is intended to last you the rest of your lives.
Marriage is often mocked by some, thinking that it is nothing more than a piece of paper filed at the court house. People will contend that they can love someone just as much without getting married.
But the sad fact is, that most of the time they are just looking for an easy way out. A de facto relationship is never as good or as strong as a marriage. It lacks the permanent commitment that marriage brings to the lives of a husband and wife.
Yes, your love and commitment to each other have brought you here today with the desire to make your relationship permanent. Furthermore, you are here asking God to bless your union together. You are asking those assembled to pray for your relationship, so that it would be continually strengthened.
Certainly your marriage won’t be perfect. There never has been a perfect marriage in all of history.When sin entered into the world, it affected marriages too. That’s why statistics report the shocking figure that fifty percent of all marriages will end in divorce.
But you can keep your eyes focused upon Jesus. He is always there to give you the forgiveness and restoration you need. He gladly gave up his life on the cross for you, so that your sins might be forgiven. Through your faith in him, he is your personal Lord and Saviour. And he gives this gift not just to you, but to all people who accept him through faith. He promises every grace and blessing upon life’s road.
As you look to Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, remember the love he has for you, and how deep it is.As you remember his love, remember the words Paul uses to describe the love of a Christian in our text for today: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” May you always remember these words in your life ahead together.
Unity Candle Service
As John and Marsha light this candle, may it represent the unity of their life together from this moment on. As this one light cannot be divided, neither shall their marriage or lives be divided. May the radiance of this one light be a testimony of their unity.
The two outside candles have been lit to symbolize the union of these two young people and the two families from which they come. The two candles are lit from the single altar candle, symbolizing Christ’s abiding presence in their lives, and the foundation upon which their marriage is built.
The bride and groom will light the center candle from the other two. The three candles will remain lit—one candle for each of them, and one candle for the unity of their new family, symbolizing their commitment to each other and to a lasting and loving marriage.
The light that remains is the light of God's love, the light in which they shall be forever as one.
Other Scriptrue Lessons:
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no-one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.
1 Peter 3:1-7
Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewellery and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
Rehearsal Dinner Prayer
Dear heavenly Father, we come before you with a spirit of rejoicing and thanksgiving. We thank you for bringing John and Marsha together, and for the blessings they have received from your gracious and loving hand. May this remind us all to look to you as a God who blesses and loves each and every one of his children.
As we begin the series of busy activities for the next couple days, we ask for your blessing upon all those who are involved. Grant safe and peaceful travels to those who will be coming from both near and far. Continue to be with each and every one as we are all gathered together. Foster a spirit of love and unity amongst us all, that we may truly reflect the love you have shown to us.
And now, we give you special thanks for the food you have set before us. We not only thank you for providing the food, but for providing the talent for those who prepared it, as well as the willing hands that have served it. Continue to strengthen us with the true bread which comes down from heaven, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and it’s in his most holy Name we pray. Amen.
Gracious and loving God, we invoke your presence amongst us this evening. As we together plan and iron out the details of John and Marsha’s wedding tomorrow, may we be guided with due reverence as to its nature. We pray that all we say and do will be to your divine glory. May this wedding service be one which does not bring glory unto ourselves, but to you who authored and instituted marriage for the entire human race.
Be with each and every member of the wedding party, and provide them with strength in your service. Bless those who have planned and coordinated this day and who have otherwise brought all of the preparations to fruition. Especially bless our organist, our soloist, and those who bring you glory in worship through their faithful service.
We especially thank you for those from Evangelical Untied Lutheran Church who have graciously shown us the love of Christ through their unselfish and dedicated actions, by sharing with us their staff and their beautiful facility. Cause your Holy Spirit to dwell within them richly as they bring you glory in their midst.
And now we pray that you would guide us all this evening with your Holy Spirit. May we always reflect the love of Jesus Christ our Saviour who died and rose again for our sakes. May we rejoice in the forgiveness of sins and the new life he has given us through faith. It’s in Jesus most holy name we pray. Amen.
Dear Father in heaven, we give thanks to you this day that you have brought John and Marsha together in marriage. We pray that you would continually be with them throughout their lives, in their joys and sorrows, in their laughter and tears, and in good times as well as the difficult moments.
We thank you that you have brought us all together here today to rejoice with them at this blessed event. Continue to foster a spirit of love, peace, and unity amongst us all.
As many travelers leave this festive occasion today, we pray that you would keep each and every one safe from harm, and guide them with your protective and loving hand.
As we prepare to partake of this meal, we thank you for the food which you have so graciously provided for us. Continue to nourish our bodies and feed our souls with the bread of heaven which comes through Jesus Christ our Lord. May we proclaim with the Psalmist, “The eyes of all wait upon thee, O Lord, and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thy hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” We pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.