Wedding Sermon / Joshua Stephens & Sarah Estey / Colossians 3:12–17 - Pastor Ted Giese / Mount Olive Lutheran Church - July 2nd 2022
Wedding Sermon / Joshua Stephens & Sarah Estey / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Saturday July 2nd 2022: Season of Pentecost / Colossians 3:12–17 "Compassionate Hearts"
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends; Joshua and Sarah, Saint Paul in his letter to the Galatians writes “through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Now I try to remind people all the time that your neighbour isn’t just the people who live in the house next door to you, your neighbour is everyone who isn’t you. Some of those neighbours are a world away in other cities, provinces, countries even on other continents while others are very close. In fact the closest neighbour you have is your spouse, your husband, your wife, your children under your roof, your family … these are our closest neighbours: so Sarah and Joshua, and all of us gathered here today, think on these words one more time, “Through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
“Through love serve one another,” is such a small sentence but it holds so much wisdom and perhaps when a person hears it they might ask ‘what does that love look like?’ You both love each other very much, this is one of the chief reasons we are here together today, and while the World has certain ideas about love this reading from Colossians chapter three, which we all heard a couple minutes ago, provides us with a picture of Christian love and what it looks like when we apply this love to the ones closest to us. As Christians we are to love everyone in this way, but for husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters you have the most opportunity to express this Christian love with one another because you are the closest to each other and see each other the most in your home. This passage from Colossians describes Christian love of the neighbour as a love that puts on compassionate hearts towards one another, full of kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, a love which bears with one another through all the burdens and struggles of life and, if one has a complaint against another, this love is a love that is forgiving of each other. In that forgiveness we as Christians acknowledge that first we need this forgiveness for ourselves and that we forgive each other because God in Christ Jesus first forgave us, in fact elsewhere in Scripture we also hear how it is that “We love because [God] first loved us” and this love is bigger than romantic love.
In that same passage from Colossians chapter three Saint Paul goes on to say that we are to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly as Christians, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in our hearts to God. As a married couple, as a family, you will better know the love of God if you stay rooted in His Word by reading the Bible together, and by engaging with your fellow Christian brothers and sisters within the Congregation for mutual support. And in all of this marriage then becomes an opportunity to continue to grow in that love which God has towards you because today you vow to stick through the adversities of life and rejoice in the joys of life together, yes from here on in your are making the public vow before God and these witnesses that the option of going it alone or of following your own path apart from each other is off the table, just as God went all in with us in the life death and resurrection of His Son Jesus. This kind of commitment on our part certainly requires forgiveness and love for each other. Everyone who has been married a long time knows that without kindness, humility, meekness, patience and forgiveness you will have instead meanness, arrogance, selfishness, short-temperedness, grudges and resentments and a marriage is hard pressed to withstand days and days, weeks and weeks, months and month, years and years, decades and decades of that: in fact all of those things when left to grow tempt us to throw in the towel and call it a day but that is not what you are called to and we rejoice with you in your love and your compassionate hearts towards one another.
No couple is able to sail through marriage without forgiveness, and just as your husband, your wife, your children under your roof, your family are the closest ones to show love towards they are also the ones we have the most opportunity to sin against and having compassionate hearts toward one another doesn’t mean we are pushovers. When it comes to sin and forgiveness we need to consider how to stir up one another to love, to encourage each other to fight the dragons in our life together for the good of the marriage and the family. You’re not getting married to be alone and you have not put on compassionate hearts to fight alone in the face of trials and temptations. The World wants you to fight with each other, don’t fight with each other, fight with each other against the World, have each other’s back; and when, by the grace of God in Christ Jesus, you find those dragons dead under your feet, you are not called into marriage to celebrate alone, no you are called into marriage to celebrate these victories together. This is what that first Bible passage we heard today from Ecclesiastes is getting at: alone you are in danger of being overcome, together you are stronger, and with God as that Third Cord you are stronger still in the face of whatever comes your way. Joshua and Sarah, be thankful, and remember where we stumble and fall God is completely faithful; where we find forgiveness a challenge in the heat of trouble His forgiveness is perfect and everlasting, in Christ Jesus God has put on a companionate heart towards the two of you that will bind everything together in perfect harmony as you trust in Him together, as you lean on Him while you lean on each other in love. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Galatians 5:13b–14
 1 John 4:19
 Hebrews 10:23–24
 Ecclesiastes 4:9–12