Saturday, June 28, 2014

Radical Forgiveness…a wedding sermon

Preached at a wedding on June 28th, 2014 at First Lutheran Church in St Peter, MN.  

Welcome, friends and family gathered here this afternoon in worship and to celebrate the love of this couple.  And Sara and Michael, it is a joy and honor to witness this commitment that you make to one another.
A marriage is not a piece of paper that you sign. A marriage is not something you attend.    Marriage is a gift from God and is intended for the mutual companionship and consolation of you both, encircled with the bonds of the Holy Spirit, as you seek to fulfill God’s command in the world through your respective vocations and your life together.  Marriage is a gift given of your very self to another, every day from this day forward.  It means that you both are embarking on an adventure together.  Sometimes that adventure will be traveling the world in times of health.  Sometimes that adventure will mean going out in a South Dakota blizzard to get cold medicine for your beloved in times of sickness.  Sometimes that adventure will mean rejoicing in dreams you will realize together and sometimes it will mean setting aside your own desires to meet those of your partner. 
We began our worship today with the Declaration of Intention.  Sara and Michael, you promised to give yourselves to one another in love and faithfulness and to share your life together.  We as the gathered assembly promised to support and care for this you, sustain you and pray for you in times of trouble and rejoice in times of joy.  You are not in this alone.  I invite you to take a deep breath, turn around and take in all the faces of those gathered here today. This is your community.  This is your support system.  These are the people who will hold your hope for you when you feel weak.  But most importantly, God promises to bless your union and promises to bear with you all the days of your life together.
On the day of a wedding it seems easy to just want to talk about love.  I want to talk about forgiveness.  There will come a day when love feels hard.  When marriage feels like too much work.  It might not be for quite awhile, but on that day, a marriage that is built on forgiveness and grounded in Christ will endure the tough times.  We hear in the scripture reading from Colossians selected by Sara and Michael, “bear with one another, and if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you.”  We are not capable of doing these things alone, and the greatest human love in the world cannot conquer all things.  We need God to help us to love one another. 
Sara and Michael, in your life together you will become annoyed with one another, the things that you find endearing now might become less endearing in years to come. You will even hurt one another.  You will need forgiveness, maybe even radical forgiveness because life together can be hard.  But the vows that you will make to each other in just a few moments are an acknowledgement of the love and concern that you have for one another but also the confession that you both are dependent on God to create you anew each day to help you to love and to forgive. And just as we the gathered assembly rejoice today, God also rejoices in your love and in the promises that you are making to one another.
So love boldly, yet dare to forgive boldly also.  Do not keep an accounting of one another’s transgressions.  Christ goes before you and promises to bear with you in your lives together.  Your community promises to bear with you also.  Thanks be to God. 

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