Sunday, June 17, 2012

Stallings Wedding Sermon: "A Pair of Three"

+ Wedding of James and Amanda Stallings. June 16th, 2012 +

Ecc. 4:9-12; Philippians 4:4-13; John 15:1-13

In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.

             Ever noticed how many good things come in pairs? Coffee and donuts, bacon and…well, just about anything, Lutherans and potlucks. You get the point. However good these things are separately, they are better together than alone and separate.

            Solomon was right; two are better than one.

            That’s the way it was in the beginning before the Fall into sin. God and man united in perfect communion. But when Adam searched the garden he found no suitable companion. And though God’s creation was “very good” it was very not-good for Adam to be alone. He was incomplete. Something – or rather someone – was missing.

            So, God made Eve, built a bride for Adam out of flesh and bone. All while Adam was sleeping. This is how God works in marriage and salvation. God gives and you receive. Unmerited. Undeserving. Unconditionally.

            No wonder Adam’s cries out in exclamation: “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” Adam was no longer alone. The lovely creature standing before Adam was made from his very flesh. Different, but the same; a perfect complement. And they were better together than they were alone.

            So it is for James and Amanda. They are as incomplete without each other as someone walking around without their own head. Amanda said as much in pre-marriage counseling one day. “He gives me my left-brain and I give him my right brain.”

            What a marvelous image. A perfect pair. Giving what the other lacks and needs. As wonderful as these two people are separately, they are far better together than alone. For it not just your brains that you give to one another today – although both of you have plenty of brains to share – but your entire life.

            James, God gives you Amanda, your Eve, your life and your very own flesh. Different from you, but a perfect complement. A perfect pair. And greater love has no husband than this, that he lay down his life, as well as live, for his wife. That is the way husbands love – laying down their life and living for their bride as Christ laid down his life for the Church.

            Amanda, abide in this love like a branch to a vine. Receive and respond with this love. For the love that James gives to you was first given to him by Christ. Amanda, God gives you James, your Adam. He is different from you, but a perfect companion. There’s no need to command Amanda to love James in return. She does it freely, joyfully, as easily as breathing.

            And yet it is not good for James and Amanda to be alone.

            For there will be days when you will not think about whatever is honorable, just, pure or lovely. There will be days when you will fail to do what is commendable, excellent and worthy of praise as St. Paul encourages us to do. You will sin against each other, it’s inevitable.

            And that is why it is not good for James and Amanda to be alone. Because if James and Amanda are one flesh, they too are in need of a helper. Someone to complete the pair.

            That someone is Jesus. For as many things as you do for each other, there is nothing better than what Christ has done for you on the cross.

            For all the times you will fail to live up to your marriage vows, Christ never fails to live up to His promises for you. For all the times you fail to be the perfect spouse, Christ’s perfection will cover up your sins and failures. He forgives you without fail. James and Amanda love each other because Christ first loved them.

            Although you make your vows today, it is Christ who has and holds you from this day forward, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health; He will never leave you, never abandon you. He has pledged you his faithfulness.        

            As the Father has loved me,” Jesus says, “so have I loved you.” And greater love has no one than this, that Christ lay down his life in behalf of his friends. Jesus is the Vine to your branch. We, together with James and Amanda, abide in the love of Christ Crucified. And united together in Christ we are better than we ever could be alone.

             In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.


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