How precious is your steadfast love, O God!God’s love is a river of delights. An important part of that river of delights, is the love of a husband and wife for each other.
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
The thing about rivers is that they can change as they travel to the sea. At one point they are wide and deep, peaceful and slow moving; at others they are shallow, fast moving and turbulent. Married love is like that…sometimes quiet and deep and slow moving, sometimes like rapids—rough and bumpy with sudden ups and downs—so we have to hold on tight so we’re not tossed out of the boat. Love changes. Tim and Shonna, you’ll probably fall in and out of love during your marriage. The trick is to stay in the boat, even—especially—through rough patches and in the line from Tim McGraw’s song, My Best Friend, the song we heard as Shonna and her bridesmaids came in, you’ll “fall in love all over.”
So, how do you navigate this particular river of loving delights…marriage?
The passage we heard from Corinthians is full of practical instructions on how to do it. I’m going to take some liberties with it, but Shonna and Tim, listen carefully and consider how you might live this out:
Tim speaking, “Shonna, if I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, if I were to become rich and famous, but didn’t show my love for you, my wife, in all I say and do, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
Shonna speaking, “Tim, if I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, if I were to become successful and rich, but didn’t show my love for you, my husband, in all I say and do, I would be nothing.”
Navigating the river of Love without capsizing or falling out of the boat is being patient and kind with one another, always building one another up—is not being jealous of one another or bragging about being better at something than the other—not being proud or rude to one another—not putting one another down. It is not demanding your own way, not being irritable or impatient. It is keeping no record of being wronged. River love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance…for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, for the rest of your lives according to God’s holy law.
It’s a risky business. But as we’ll hear from Bette Midler via Ralph later:
It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance, It’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance, It’s the one who won’t be taken who cannot seem to give.Today, you’re both taking the risk of giving…as we heard at the beginning of this service, you are giving yourselves to each other in love.
Three things will last forever, we heard in Corinthians—faith, hope, and love—the greatest of these is love and the greatest ever expression of God’s love for you and all of us is Jesus. By doing this here in this Church, you’re making an effort to ensure that your marriage will float according to God’s purpose, which is that Jesus to be the centre of your life together.
So, please, as you set out on the river of love and of delights God has given you, learn more about Jesus, confess your sins to Jesus, love Jesus, worship Jesus, be devoted to Jesus, teach your kids to love and follow Jesus, be Jesus to one and other, and , as we heard in Colossians, what ever you do, whether in word or deed do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, and remember when the water gets rough that Jesus is the best guy in the world to have along with you in a boat.
“Some say love,” wrote Bette Midler in her song, The Rose, which we’ll be hearing later in this ceremony, “is a river.” That’s true. And God’s love makes it a river of delights in His gift of marriage. So, Tim and Shonna, “Bon Voyage!”