Posted by David Hartung @ 11:17
Not one of my better efforts, but none-the-less, here is yesterday’s sermon:
What God Has Joined Together
Grace, mercy and Peace be unto you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
As you all may know, my course this quarter is on the Lord’s Supper. While all of my courses have been both interesting and valuable, this one was particularly so. The professor is a gentleman from Japan who knows, in addition to Japanese and English, Latin, German and Greek; and he has a working knowledge of Hebrew. Professor Masaki’s father was a well known Lutheran pastor in Japan, so it is very possible that he knew Pastor Billow.
As cool as this was, the course on the Lord’s Supper was even more awesome. As good Lutherans we all know that the Supper is a gift to us from God, given for our forgiveness and salvation. This is really nothing new. As the week wore on, between the readings assigned by Dr. Masaki, and the readings which have been set for our service today, I realized that there is something of a connection between what the Supper is, and marriage.
Let’s take a brief look at the Gospel lesson and the Old testament and see what marriage might have in common with the Supper.
In the Gospel lesson, we have one of the classic texts used to preach against divorce. We have all heard it before, Moses only allowed the people to divorce out of the hardness of their hearts. If we bring the Matthew into it the discussion, divorce is allowed in case of adultery. This is all very nice, but it sort of misses the point.
If we describe marriage in terms of divorce, and how we cannot end a marriage unless our spouse is unfaithful, we make marriage a matter of law. Marriage then becomes a thing of do’s and don’ts, rather than a relationship in which the parties love one another. But is that what marriage truly is? Is marriage something we tolerate because God tells us we have to? Or is there something more to it?
Consider for a moment our Old Testament Text. In this text God tells us that man needs a “help-meet”, a companion, one who would be with him, and work with him in the care of the Garden. While he is not specific as to why a mate was needed in the Garden, any of us men who have been married for a while, have no trouble understanding the point. So how did God go about creating this companion, this mate for Adam?
God is all powerful, in his power he has the ability to have simply spoken into being someone to fill the bill as Adam’s helper. However, God saw the need for much more than a simple assistant or helper. God recognized that what Adam needed was someone who would be an integral part of Adam’s live, someone to whom he could turn for support, assistance, help and love. In short Adam needed someone who was so close to him , so important that they would effectively be one entity. Because of this need, God knew that no mere created being would, or could provide Adam with the kind of support he needed. So instead of simply speaking woman into existence, God formed her out of a part of Adam’s body. Eve was literally a part of Adam, one with Adam if you will.
Now, if we look back at our Gospel lesson, we see this. Jesus says that “the two shall become one flesh.” A married couple is far more than two individuals who have chosen to live together and perhaps raise children together. When a man and woman get married, when they stand before friends and family and commit to each other, God literally joins them into one flesh, one union. No longer are they simply individuals, they are a single union.
None of this is new to us. Most of us in this room have been married for many years, and have seen our marital union grow stronger as the years have gone by. If you all are like me, the longer LeighAnn and I are married, the more foolish the idea of severing that union becomes. We have come to depend upon each other, to care for and to help each other. We have become such a part of each other, that it is simply inconceivable that we would want to live without the other.
How does this happen? Do a man and wife grow closer together because they will it, or is something else making it all happen?
A more pertinent question is this: Is marriage a law which we must obey, or is it a gift to us from a loving God? In other words, is marriage Law or is it Gospel?
As we look at the two texts set for us today, one thing becomes very obvious. Marriage is not something that just happened, nor was it an afterthought. As part of the creation, God intended for there to be man and woman, and he intended them to be joined in union. God joined man and woman together.
We did not join ourselves, God joined us. This union is God’s plan for man and woman. It is within this union that God intends for the children of his church to be born, and nourished with both the food of this world, and the food of eternal life. In short, the institution of Holy Matrimony is the purest of Gospel.
Yeah, I know it often doesn’t seem that way, but that is what it is. As I said, Marriage is among the gifts given us by God. This is what Jesus is trying to get across to the Pharisees and to his Disciples.
This is why our Lord was so indignant when he saw his Disciples trying to keep the kids away from him. You see when we are given a gift, all of us, even the old crotchety adults, seem to respond with the same joy and amazement we had as children.
You see, God has given, and continues to give us many wonderful gifts. Marriage is among those gifts, and it is only with the amazement and joy of children that we can receive them. Just as children do nothing to earn or deserve the git given them, so to are we unable to earn God’s gifts, we simply receive them in joy and thanksgiving.
In the end, this is the connection between marriage and the Supper. Both are unearned, undeserved gifts to us from God. Just as the Lord comes to us in the Supper, so to has he joined us together in a union that is nothing but Gospel.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
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