Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sermon: Wedding of Stephen and Brandi Levet

29 March 2008 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA Text: Eph 5:1-2, 22-23

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

Stephen and Brandi, today you are about to do the most radical and politically incorrect thing in your lives.

By being married in a Christian Church, by standing before this altar, by participating in this service, you have repudiated the world’s understanding of love and marriage.

Brandi, listen again to what St. Paul says to you today.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church, His body, and is Himself its Savior. Now as the Church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

The world tells us there is no head of the household – certainly not the husband, anyway. The world tells women to be bossy, disrespectful, and that she is entitled to make decisions equally with her husband. However, in being married in this place, Brandi, you are publicly submitting to Stephen. He is the boss of the household, just as Christ is the head of the Church. That’s a pretty radical notion. For submission is not an easy thing to do in this day and age – especially for women when the headship of the husband is under such fierce attack.

Stephen, listen again to what St. Paul says to you today:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her…. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the Church, because we are members of His body.”

The world tells men that they are free to slack and let their wives bear burdens that the husbands are supposed to bear. The world tells men that being the head of the house means being bossy and arrogant, that being the leader means being a tyrant, being free to come and go as you please. Not so. For when Jesus gave the disciples an example of what it means to be a leader, to be a real man, he took out a towel and washed His disciples’ feet like a common slave. Now that is also a radical notion. Just as Jesus gave everything for His Bride, Stephen, you are to place your bride before everything. You are to give up everything and anything for her. You are not free to go out with your friends, to spend money as you please, or to withhold anything from her at all. You are to submit to God as our Lord did, and if need be, to die for Brandi, as our Lord did for us.

That’s also a radical notion, the idea that your family comes before your own desires, that your wife is more important than your friends, that you would rather die than to see your dear wife put to shame even for a moment.

Christian marriage is not worldly marriage. In the eyes of the world, marriage is a cheap, temporary business and sexual arrangement that may or may not involve children. Holy Matrimony, however, is just that – it is holy, and it is matrimony – which is a Latin word that refers to motherhood. Holy Matrimony is for life. It is a radical submission of children to parents, wife to husband, and husband to God. It is the spiritual and physical merging of two people into one flesh. It is the subordination of the self to those more important than you.

In short, Christian marriage is the ultimate expression of love. It is unselfish, it is bound in service and obedience, and it creates a place where children also learn love. In Christian marriage, both spouses outdo each other in their acts of affection and respect to each other.

A Christian home is a place of gentleness and kindness. Christian spouses do not speak ill of one another to their friends. Christian spouses set the example to their children how to be godly men and women.

Stephen, you are the spiritual head of the household. It is your job to teach your children to pray, to get them ready for church on Sunday, and to set the example of Christian manhood. Brandi, it is your job to follow your husband’s lead, to teach your children the faith, and to come together as a family to worship. You are to call one another to accountability, with gentleness and submission to our Lord.

And just as Paul tells us that marriage is a picture of Christ’s love for the Church, you have come to the church to seek Christ’s blessing upon your marriage. The Lord Jesus Christ will see you through difficult times – which are certain. Seek His guidance in prayer. The Lord will speak to you and advise you in every struggle in life – and there will be many. Seek His guidance in Holy Scripture. The Lord will nourish you and prepare you for whatever future you face – whether many children or few, whether health or sickness, whether in abundance or want. Seek His guidance in the Holy Sacrament. You will need to forgive one another, and you will need forgiveness from one another. We are all sinners, and people sin against us. That is why we pray in the Lord’s prayer that our Father forgive us, just as we forgive others. Married life is a life rooted in that forgiveness of the Gospel.

You both have agreed to a daunting, lifelong task – to commit to each other, to serve each other, to create a Christian home for your children and any other children the Lord may bless you with. But with any task, keep in mind that the Lord will grant you His grace and His Spirit. Lifetimes are lived out one day at a time.

It is my prayer and the prayer of everyone else in this family and in this church who love you that you will always remember St. Paul’s words in Scripture that you have heard today, and that come what may, you will love and serve each other without compromise and with no thought of giving up, no matter what lies the prince of this world may tell you.

You are doing a noble thing today, but your nobility is not a one-time ceremony, rather it is a noble life that you are committing to live out as one flesh against the whole world if need be.

Steve and Brandi, the peace of the Lord be with you always. Welcome to the radical life of Christian marriage!

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Amen.

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