What brought them to catch the 5 o’clock this afternoon? Three words. St Paul lists them in the last verse of the reading we just heard: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV).
Kelly wondered, from time to time, whether the LORD had forgotten her. I know because Kelly usually wonders, as she does just about everything else, out loud. She had to work at keeping the faith and she did, faithfully, for years. It was not easy. There were disappointments, pain and tears. But today, her faith is being rewarded. The LORD had not forgotten her.
Which brings us to the second word: hope. As we heard in that wonderful verse from Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” That verse has given Kelly hope during her solitary years. Today, God’s plans to prosper and not to harm Kelly and Murray and to give them a new hope and a new future have come to fruition.
Murray’s and Kelly’s solitary lives have been brought to a hopeful end here this afternoon. They are now about to begin a new hope-filled married life together as they live into the future God planned for them all along.
St Paul again: And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. We’ve looked at faith and hope. Now we come to what Paul calls the greatest of the three: love.
Love is what will fuel this hope filled journey and keep Murray and Kelly one-flesh-together way into the future. Without love, none of us are anything but hollow sounding gongs and noisily clanging, setting-your-teeth-on-edge cymbals. Without love we are able to gain absolutely nothing. What’s this love like? It’s actually not the romantic kind of love Kelly and Murray have fallen into and which brought them together in the first place. The love to which Paul refers in the reading from 1 Corinthians is the kind that will keep them together. It’s patient, kind, rejoices with the truth, always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. It’s the kind of love “that needs no love in return, that is intelligent and purposeful, always directed to the need of the other.” (Marva Dawn & Eugene Peterson, The Unnecessary Pastor, p212) That’s the Love that never fails. That’s the love that has people celebrating their 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries.
Finally, a fourth word which puts these three in context. A name. The Name above all Names. The one to whom all knees will one day bow, willingly or unwillingly. Jesus, Son of God, Saviour, Light of the world. When God created men and women in his image, He did it through Jesus. When God makes Murray and Kelly one flesh this afternoon, He does it through Jesus, within His Body and Bride, the Church.
This marriage is the result of faith, hope, love in Jesus.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13.13). And Jesus is the One in whom and through whom they are all most perfectly received, enjoyed and expressed.