Saturday, 7 July 2012

A Short Wedding Sermon on Love: with reference to 1 Corinthians 13:4-13—for Arthur and Shawna Jennings

I find God's Word endlessly meaningful and applicable although sometimes I wonder just how much juice it is possible to squeeze out of a single passage of Scripture. I suppose what we all do with 1 Corinthians 13 and weddings, would be called variations on a theme in music. I'm not sure what number this variation would be for me…
You know that reading is not about marriage. Its really about how to do Church. In particular, how to do worship in Church; how Church is not so much about the buzz and excitement and glamour of the charismatic gifts like prophecy, tongues and special God-given knowledge because as good and interesting as they are, they're going to end. And it's really not so much about us as it is about God and us needing to get serious, stop being childish, grow up and to learn to know Him by following Jesus. 
It works for marriage, too. Because marriage is not so much about the buzz and excitement and electricity and chemistry of pre-marital romance—good as all that is!—real marriage— deep, satisfying, rich, delightful, soul-mates marriage—is about putting the childish, all-about-me, ways behind us as we grow up into the women and men God made us to be. Real marriage is about learning to see through the poorer reflections of ourselves and our spouse that come from childish foot-stamping and always wanting our own way to seeing one another face to face. Really applying ourselves to learning to know one another fully, and being vulnerable enough to allow ourselves to be fully known—having faith in God and in one another, hoping for the best from one another and from God. God’s best is Jesus, by the way, who is to be found in His Church.  
But most of all, if there is to be growing up and deep face to face knowing of each other there must be love. Love that is greater than the romantic love that brought you together. Love that is fierce enough to overcome all obstacles and frustrations, that needs no love in return, that is intelligent and purposeful, as Marva Dawn writes, always directed to the need of the other. Love to do, by choice of will, day after day, night after snoring night, ruined toothpaste tube after ruined toothpaste tube, toilet seat up or down, bank balance full or empty.  
That kind of love never fails. That kind of love is the “greatest of these” Paul wrote about in our reading. That kind of love will grow Arthur and Shawna and bring them face to face forever.