124) Too Many Wedding Sermons

 A wedding sermon I gave a few years ago.

     I figured out the other day that I have done about 200 weddings in the last 30 years.  That means I have had to give 200 wedding sermons, and, to be honest with you, I’m getting tired of it.  Doing the wedding itself is okay, and the reception afterwards is fun, but it’s the wedding sermons I do not like.  I don’t know what to say anymore after talking about marriage 200 times already.

    Weddings are fun, but the sermons are an affliction to me.  I’d rather write five funeral sermons than one wedding sermon.  At a funeral, I know what to say.  I can talk about how wonderful it is that the departed loved one is done with all the sorrows and troubles of this sad world and has gone on to live with our Lord in heaven who promised eternal life to all who believe in Him.  That’s what I can say at a funeral, and there is truth and comfort in that.

    But I don’t know what to say at weddings anymore.  Of course, I could go on and on about how wonderful love is and about all the joys of wedded bliss, just like in the songs; ‘color my world with love,’ ‘you make me so very happy,’ ‘how sweet it is to be loved by you,’ and all of that.  But surely, everyone here would then be saying to themselves, ‘Who is he trying to kid?– he’s married, he ought to know by now what it’s like, and it’s not like the songs on the radio.’  ‘Wonderful wedded bliss, my eye,’ I can hear everyone thinking.  Marriage is tough, its hard work, and the two of you are in for it.  Anyone can tell you that.  A preacher shouldn’t be up here lying about how wonderful everything will be from now on.  So I’m not going to do that.

    But then, I could take the opposite approach, and I could tell you what to really expect.  I could tell you to expect hard work, regrets, disappointments, conflicts, sadness, misunderstandings, and troubles galore.  I could say “you better hold on to your hats, kids, and be ready for tough times ahead; and be ready to keep your vows anyway, because that’s what marriage is, a promise until death parts you, and don’t you forget it.”  That’s all true, and some of those 200 wedding sermons were like that.  But then later at the reception, I’d always feel bad about it.  I’d feel bad about taking such a wonderful occasion as a wedding and putting a damper on everything by telling the couple about all the trouble they were in for.  On this happy day why should I bother the two of you with all of that?  You will find out soon enough.

    One other thing I could do is use this time to give you lots of good advice.  I have plenty of that to give and I do have the floor now for a little while.  I could use this opportunity to remind you of all the things you were told when you were teenagers and weren’t listening.  I could say “work hard, save your money, don’t forget everything your mother and father did for you, be content, don’t worry, be happy, don’t always be wanting something else and going broke getting it, be polite and kind to each other, talk things over, and, like the Bible says, ‘don’t let the sun go down on your anger.’”  I could go on and on with all kinds of advice, but no one wants to hear that today.  As I said, I don’t like giving wedding sermons.

    But even so, I am glad that we are here today for a wedding and not a funeral.  And, I am glad it is for the two of you.  I am happy that you have made it through all your ups and downs thus far, and, I am honored to be joining the two of you in marriage, even if it means doing another wedding sermon.

    There is indeed trouble ahead for you in this marriage.  For anyone alive, there is trouble coming.  That’s just life, married or not, you are in for it either way.  But now, you will have each other to ‘share your joys and sorrows and all that the years will bring,’ like the marriage service says.  There is truth in the old saying, ‘a burden shared is half the burden and a joy shared is twice the joy.’  And as you share life’s joys and burdens, work on appreciating each other, or, as you will say in your vows, cherishing and honoring, and yes, loving each other.  Hang in there, and you will find that just as the Bible says, the ‘two shall become one.’  That’s not just a command.  It is that, too, but it is also a promise.  Be faithful, keep those promises that you make today, and despite all the burdens and irritations of life together, you’ll find that God does bind you together in such a way that the two of you do become one, with shared lives and memories and perhaps children, and everything else that binds two people together, until death parts you.  It is a burden, but it’s wonderful too.  And so, be thankful to God for everything and be content; say your prayers, go to church together, remember God in your life, and you’ll be all right.
Genesis 2:18  —  The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.” 
Matthew 19:4-6  —  “Haven’t you read,” (Jesus) replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”  
I Corinthians 13:4-7  —  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. 
    O God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, bless these thy servants, and sow the seed of eternal life in their hearts; that whatsoever in thy holy Word they shall profitably learn, they may in deed fulfill the same.  Look, O Lord, mercifully upon them from heaven, and bless them.  And as thou didst send thy blessing upon Abraham and Sarah, to their great comfort, so vouchsafe to send thy blessing upon these thy servants; that they, obeying thy Will, and always being in safety under thy protection, may abide in thy love unto their lives’ end; through Jesus Christ our Lord   Amen.     
–1662 Anglican Book of Common Prayer