Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wedding Homily for Peter & Emily Davis

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
(Rev 21:1-4 ESV)

Peter and Emily,

What we heard today from the Book of Revelation was an amazing description of John’s vision of the consummation of time and history and the joining of Christ with his Church in eternity.  And in the midst of his description of this vision he presents to us a picture of a wedding.

Your wedding today, Peter and Emily, is an act of witness-bearing to the hope and faith that Christ’s people all share. This is the hope and faith that one day our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will return to raise us from our graves and join us in an eternal celebration of joy and happiness.

In the so-called fairy tales of Western children’s literature, we often read at the conclusion of these stories that a handsome young prince has rescued his beautiful princess and together they are finally joined in marriage where we are told they live “happily ever after.”

Occasionally, well-meaning people point to this sort of ending as though it were a flaw in the narrative. They will rightly point out that marriage can often be full of real difficulties, immense challenges, and even genuine heartache.  However well-meaning they might be, they are certainly wrong in their claim that these fairy-tale endings are a flaw. Indeed, by concluding the story with a blissful wedding, such stories bear witness to the larger story in which our own lives and for that matter, the entire world participate.

The Bible begins with the union of a man and a woman and the tragic fall of our first parents. But from this fall comes the promise of redemption through the seed of the woman. Thus the whole story of the Bible embraces this promise and reveals the unfolding fulfillment of this promise. The climax of this story is, of course, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through this life of faithful obedience which resulted in his death, glorious resurrection, and ascension to his heavenly throne; Jesus Christ has not only restored us in him to the integrity of our first parents, but in him we now participate in glorious new creation of which he is the fountain-head.

So our lives now are lived by faith in and obedience to our Lord and Savior who has left us with the promise of his glorious return. However, in this loving care he has not left us without a helper. Upon us he has showered the Holy Spirit to gift, guide and equip us in our time of waiting.

Now at first blush it may sound like I’ve sort of left the subject of marriage far afield; but I have not. Peter and Emily, by means of the way you live together as husband and wife; submitting yourselves to one another in the Lord, learning the hard lessons of patience, self-renunciation, and forgiveness; through all of this and more, your marriage proclaims the grand story of God’s gracious, self-giving love in the rescue of his bride, the Church.

Peter, as husband you are called to a humble, self-sacrificial love of your bride that she may flourish in beauty and godliness. Emily, as wife you are called to an honoring submission to your groom, that he too may flourish in his calling to be the head and servant of this newly formed household. As both of you serve the Lord in your callings as husband and wife, your lives will show forth a picture of our life in Christ before a lost and needy world.

So Peter and Emily, while we recognize that the so-called fairy-tale wedding of children’s literature is not something we naively anticipate; as if it were to unfold immediately in the short history of your life; we rightly embrace the fairy-tale for it, like your life together in Christ bears witness to the consummation of time and history when our heavenly Bridegroom will join his glorious bride for the marriage supper of the Lamb.

So with this picture of eternal joy before us, Peter and Emily I have one thing to say to you:

May you live happily ever after.

Pastor Wayne Larson
November 16, 2013