Eve of Pentecost 5, (June 27, 2015)
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
Marriage of Anna Lewer and Neil Dorsey
Romans 8:31, 32, 37–39
TITLE: “Nothing Can Separate”
Family and friends, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, relatives galore, but especially you, Neil and Anna, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ.
It is not good for man to be alone, said God our Father in the Garden so many years ago. Man apart from his bride is a wreck, incomplete, unable to fulfill what God has given him to be and to do. That is the picture we have of Adam in the Garden.
And so our Heavenly Father said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”” (Genesis 2:18 ESV) And so began the parade of animals. You can almost picture the parade as God walked them past Adam, can’t you? “Well, God, I really like this one, but it’s not quite right for me. Let’s call it a turtle. That one’s pretty strange. Let’s call that one a cow.”
God put Adam into a deep sleep and took from him a rib, and from that rib He formed Eve. Adam took one look at her and said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:23 ESV)
Thus the two became one flesh, in a unity that is a reflection of God Himself, and of Christ’s love for His bride, the Church. They were not the same, any more than a cow and a turtle are the same, and yet, somehow, they fit together. They were, as only God could create and make, made for each other.
Sin does have a way of messing things up, though. And this is as true in marriage as it is in the rest of life. God created man and woman to be wonderfully, gloriously different from each other, to complement each other so that they fit together perfect. But sin puts us at odds with each other and with ourselves. Your sin and mine, and everyone’s sin.
God, however, will not allow anything to separate you from Him. Not persecution or famine, peril or sword, enemies or friends, not sin, not even death itself. Christ’s love for His Bride, the Christian Church, has no bounds, no limits. He will do anything, anything for her. Frankly, Christ’s love is not particularly rational. It is a mystery. St. Paul writes
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”(Ephesians 5:31–32)
So what does all this talk about mysteries, separation and unity, and your favorite word of all, love, have to do with the two of you?
Your marriage is and will be a picture or an icon of Christ’s love for His bride, the Church. Neil, you sacrifice everything for you dear one, Anna, and in doing so, you show all of us here a little hint of Christ’s love for us. Now you won’t be perfect at it. Sometimes you will stink at it, and Anna will learn to forgive you. But since she comes from a family of forgiven sinners, she has already had plenty of practice at forgiveness, so it’s okay. Your love for her is a picture of the one, great love of God, and that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Anna, your love for Neil is a picture or an image of how the Church loves Christ Jesus, her Lord. It’s a strange picture, I know, but if I know anything about you, it is that you are comfortable with…odd. You will not reflect that love of the Church for Christ always, and Neil will learn to forgive you, but Neil, too, comes from a family of forgiven sinners, so you are in good hands with both them and with him.
God, you see, loves to take the ordinary and give it life beyond all understanding. And so he will do with the two of you. Today as you begin your life together in Him, Christ our Lord makes a sure and certain promise to the two of you. He says, I will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5), and a three fold cord is not easily broken (Ecc. 4:12), and again I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20). These promises and so many more mean that you life is safe and at peace in God’s hands, and that everything will turn out according to His divine purpose and direction.
So rejoice, Anna and Neil, Steve and Beth, Richard and Janis, friends, relatives, and all those who are here! Christ is present in this place, your love for each other is bound up together in Jesus’ love for His bride, and He who does all things well continues to give Adam his Eve and Eve her Adam. Rejoice, for paradise is just beginning.
Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.