A WEDDING MEDITATION
Connor and Julia, family and friends, grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Everyone hopes for good weather on their wedding day, and the two of you sure have that today. What a nice day on which to begin your marriage! May your whole life together be so pleasant as the weather on this fine day. As an old marriage blessing says, ‘may conflict and strife be far from you, may you love and respect each other, and may you live in peace until your life’s end.’ And as the Irish say, ‘may the wind be always at your back, may the road always rise to meet you, may the sunshine be always warm on your face, and may you each and every day know nothing but happiness and wedded bliss.’
Now, just in case it doesn’t always work out that way, don’t be surprised. Just in case there are lots of days in your marriage with clouds and not sunshine, and the wind is sometimes blowing hard in your face, and it is an uphill battle all the way, don’t worry about it. And just in case conflict and strife do not always remain far from you, but are sometimes right there, even keeping you up at night, don’t give up. Work through it— but don’t let it get you down. In fact, plan on having to endure and work through lots of those times. You can probably even expect that every once in a while, Connor, you might say to yourself, “What did I ever see in her?” And Julia, you might say to yourself, “What did I ever see in him?” And if that happens, it probably won’t be the first time such a thought ever popped into the mind of a husband or a wife.
Let me illustrate what I’m getting at with a conversation based on a true story.
A young man one time said to his grandfather, “Hey Grandpa, Jenny and I are thinking about getting married.”
“Oh ya,” said Grandpa, “what makes you think that’s such a good idea?”
“Well shucks, Grandpa,” the younger man said, “we’ve known each other for two years, we get along fine, and I think we are right for each other.”
Grandpa replied, “You hardly know each other at all, yet.”
The young man said, “Grandpa, I thought you liked Jenny.”
“I do like Jenny,” Grandpa said, “and I think the two of you should get married. Just don’t be going into it with the idea that you are right for each other, or worse yet, that you are, what they call now days, ‘soul-mates,’ whatever that is.”
“Well,” said the grandson, “I heard that you and Grandma knew each other less than a year when you got married. Did you think you were right for each other?”
“Yes, I thought so when we got married,” said Grandpa, “but I was wrong. We weren’t right for each other at all. In fact, we had a talk about that very thing one time after we were married for about five years. We talked about how different we were, and how much we argued, and we both decided we had made a big mistake in getting married. It wasn’t an angry conversation, just a matter of fact acknowledgement of how much we annoyed each other.”
“Well, what did you do then?,” asked the bewildered young man.
Grandpa said, “Well, if I remember right, it was in the evening, so I went out to the barn to finish the chores, and Grandma finished the dishes and put the kids to bed. And then day after day, we just kept on doing what married people do. Just because you married the wrong person is no excuse to give up on your promises and start over. But then, after a few more years of plugging away at it, we began to realize that even though we weren’t exactly made for each other, we had become the right person for each other. Now, I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world. People can never, really know if they are marrying the right person. And a lot of times the wrong people do get married. But then they just BOTH have to work on becoming the right person; and it is the marriage vows that keep you together long enough to give that a chance to happen.”
In a few minutes the two of you will make your marriage vows, committing your lives to each other, come what may, promising to be faithful until death parts you. You might be right for each other and you might, sometimes, be wrong for each other, and, if you are like most couples, your own views on that might go back and forth a bit over the years. But if today, you both commit yourselves to that lifelong promise, and you both commit yourselves to working it out, you will be right.
C. S. Lewis once wrote:
People get from movies the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on ‘being in love’ for ever. As a result, when they find they are not so much in love for a time, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change. They don’t realize that when they have made that change, the thrill will soon go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one. In this department of life, as in every other, the thrills come at the beginning and do not last… But if you go through with it, the dying away of the first thrill will be compensated for by a quieter and more lasting kind of blessing.
You are beginning your life together in a church. And you are doing that not because this is a pretty place for a wedding, and not because it is a big enough place to hold all these people. But we are in this sanctuary today because your faith in God is important to both of you; and so it is right and good to begin your life together here in God’s presence, asking for His blessing. The closer you remain to God in your life together, the closer you will be to each other, and the stronger will be the bond between you.
The reading you selected from the book of Hebrews begins with the command that marriage shall be held in honor by all, along with commands to love one another, to keep your life free from the love of money, and to be content. And notice how that passage ends with a promise, God said, “Never will I leave you nor forsake you,” and therefore, says the verse, we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I need not be afraid.” There is no better help to be had, and no other help at all that can be there for you forever. But then do also remember that earlier in the same book of Hebrews, it says, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard from the Lord, so that we do not drift away.” Give to God the attention he deserves, and do not drift away, and you will be all right.
At the center of the marriage service there are these commitments, the commitments you make to each other and the commitment you make to God, in whose presence we gather. And the commitment to each other is not primarily simply to love, for no one can guarantee that an emotion will be there every day. Emotions are unreliable, coming and going as they do. No, you do not promise an emotion, you simply promise that YOU will keep being there, every day, from now on, whether or not you feel like it. And then, as an old marriage blessing says, you may grow in holy love until your life’s end— becoming the right person for each other.
Hebrews 13:4-6a — Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid…”
Hebrews 2:1 — We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.
A MARRIAGE BLESSING:
May the Lord God, who created our first parents and established them in marriage,
establish and sustain you, that you may find delight in each other,
and grow in holy love until your life’s end. Amen.