Monday, 24 July 2006

A wedding sermon

A SERMON PREACHED ON THE OCCASION OF ADRIAN MARPLE AND RUTH HULLEY'S WEDDING
Saturday 15th July 2006

BASED ON PSALM 127,128

Congratulations.

This service is such a joy

And thank you for the readings that you have chosen

A new family, a new 'house' is being established today.

People try to build marriages, 'houses' on many foundations

  • Shared feelings

  • Shared interests

  • Shared dreams

And all of that is so important

But Psalm 127.1 says, "Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain"

Psalms 127 and 128 are Psalms of Ascent. As people journeyed up to Jerusalem, to the temple, to meet with God, they would sing these songs.
And both these songs are declaring that if we wish to see the house established, the city protected, the work completed - then we must put God in the centre.

  • Feelings change and hopefully mature: for instance, we cannot constantly remain in a state of 'being in love'. You would never eat and nothing would ever get done.

  • Interests can unite us. They can also pull us apart

  • Dreams can be fulfilled and we need to move on to something else, or they don't turn out as we expect, or they remain unfulfilled and we struggle with frustration.

No. The one who will establish your home, who will make your 'house' the place that it should be is the God who loves you and has called you together.

That is why we are here in church. We are here to ask God to be the foundation of your marriage.

It is why we need to learn the fear of the Lord and learn to walk in his way (Ps 128:1)

We need to learn to receive his love.

His love is the ultimate committed love. He will stand by you through thick and thin. He will not give up on you - even if we ignore him, reject him, walk out on him - he will continue to be there for us: calling us, pleading with us, demanding that we come back to him
And because he is committed to us, we can learn that commitment love. Because today you are committing yourself to each other: in sickness and in health, in wealth and poverty, in good and bad. And the model for that love is God's love for us.

His love is the ultimate intimate love. He longs for us to know him, to be intimate with him, to be in communion with him. And his love is constantly shown to us in so many ways.
     And it is his intimate love that is the model for our intimacy. It is important to spend time with each other. It is important to keep the romance alive. It is important to say 'I love you' in repeated and different ways.

His love is the ultimate giving love. He gave us Himself in His Son. 'For God so loved the world that he gave his son'. And God gives us Jesus in order for us to discover life, to discover him, to grow to become the people he meant us to be.
And because he gives to us, we are set free to give to each other. People say that marriage is about give and take. I don't agree. Marriage is about give and give and give and give; and when you've given everything that there is to give, you give again. And we give ourselves in order that the other - might become the person that God meant them to be.

A couple who were celebrating their 80th wedding anniversary were asked: "What is the secret of your success?" The husband answered, "Two words". "What are they?" asked the interviewer. He replied: 'Yes, dear'.
But actually that is more true than we might think. Marriages are built and grow and flourish when both partners learn to say 'Yes, dear'.

And fearing the Lord is about turning to him for strength

  • Strength to persevere when things get hard

  • Strength to forgive: because we need to be forgiven and we need to forgive.

  • Strength to say sorry. Ogden Nash said, "To keep your marriage brimming, with love in your marriage cup, whenever you're wrong, admit it; whenever you're right, shut up!"

  • Strength to submit to one another. Paul in Ephesians writes: Husbands love your wives: most of us can be so self-centred, going off into our own worlds doing our things, shutting our wives out, and at times we can be harsh - no. Submit. Love your wife. And to wives he writes, 'Submit to your husbands'. Don't give in to the temptation to try and control your husbands: Yes, I know we need managing, improving and sorting out - but we are not to manipulate them or run their lives for them. We need to submit to each other.

  • Strength to let go: of our cherished hopes and ambitions; of - when the time comes - of our children when they grow up; of the other: we've already spoken about that in our service: 'Till death us do part'.

And if we wish the Lord to build the house, then we need to fear the Lord and walk in his ways:
  • Obey his commands: love mercy, do justice and walk humbly with your God.

  • Spend time with his word and with his people - spending time with Him.

Adrian and Ruth: no one here knows what God's purpose is for you

Psalm 127 talks of quivers full of sons, and Psalm 128 of many and good children, of prosperity and fruitfulness,  effectiveness and fulfilment
V2: 'You shall eat of the fruit of the labour of your hands: you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you'.

I think that this has to be read, for us as children of the new covenant, in the light of Jesus. He of course was single, had no children and was crucified at the age of 33.
But through his life and his death on the cross, God has given him millions upon millions of children, of brothers and sisters. His death has brought life. And God raised him from the dead, and he will eat of the fruit of his labour, and we will share in that heavenly banquet.

So I do not know whether you will end up with a quiverful of children. And I do not know where God will take you or lead you. You're starting on a great adventure.

What I do know is this: if you allow God to build your house, your marriage, there will of course be times of frustration and pain and weeping - but there will also be times of great joy and fruitfulness.

Our prayer is that your house and your marriage will be a place of love, of giving, of forgiveness, of laughter, of building each other up, of service and of blessing to yourselves and to many. Our prayer is that as you build on him, as you put him in the centre, your house and your marriage will be established.

May God bless you.