Three Is No Crowd
except if it's polygamy
A Short Wedding Sermon based on James Rye
John 2:1-10 (paraphrase) There’s a wedding at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother is there, as are Jesus and his disciples. They run out of wine, and Jesus’ mother says to him, "They have no wine." Then she says to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." There are six empty stone jars there; each could hold thirty gallons. Jesus says to the servants, "Fill the jars with water," and they fill them to the brim. "Draw some out now and take it to the caterer." They do this; the caterer tasted the water, and it had turned to wine. Having no idea where it comes from, the caterer calls the groom and says, "Everyone serves the good wine first then the poor wine; but you have kept the best till now." This is the first of Jesus' signs: He reveals his glory, and his disciples believe in him.
A Couple Marriage Stories A beautiful princess sees a frog in the woods. She kisses the frog and he turns into a prince. They marry and live happily ever after. Another version: A beautiful princess sees a frog in the woods. She kisses the frog then turns into a frog. The two marry - and eventually change into old toads.
there are no toads! We are considering
two committed people making vows before the Heavenly Father. (Brandon and Elizabeth have specifically
requested that their marriage be Christian.)
The Bible speaks of marriage as mirroring the relationship between Jesus
and his people. Using that great relationship as a starting point, let me offer
a little godly advice about how husbands and wives live in a Christian marriage.
Unconditional love has never been popular. Love has conditions in our society. A couple recently underwent treatment for infertility. The husband wanted children, but he said (in an interview) that he’d have to reconsider whether he’d stay in the relationship if the treatment were unsuccessful. Imagine how that made his wife feel? During the joys and sorrows of your marriage, and there will be many, the key issue will always be your commitment to unconditional love, not to your feelings or to your personal satisfaction.
A symbol can help you remember this. You’ll exchange rings to remind you of your commitment to love. Some of your most significant moments in marriage may be when one or the other of you says: “Despite what has happened or what we’ve decided or how we feel, I want you to know that I’m still committed to loving you.”
Secondly, I’d advise you to Communicate. All communication involves risk. You might make a fool of yourself, or others may not understand you. They may ignore you or misrepresent you. As a token of his love, Jesus freely communicated. He revealed the divine plan. He told stories. He preached. He communicated through healing. He spoke with his life and paid the price for being misunderstood.
Without godly communication, there’ll be misunderstanding, frustration, and finally, indifference. Part of loving means being committed to communicating, even when it’s difficult, awkward or painful. Ogden Nash wrote: To keep your marriage brimming with love in the loving cup, If you’re ever wrong admit it. If you’re ever right, shut up!
There are at least four basic rules about communication in marriage: (1) Talking is better than silence, but talking isn’t necessarily communicating. (2) Most people are very poor at mind reading. (3) Learning to express your feelings without blame or fear is crucial. (4) Finally, listening without being judgmental is the greatest communication skill of all.
Learn to accept responsibility for how you feel, and not blame. Talk about difficult issues without confrontation. Jesus loved you enough to reveal himself to you and marry you. In years to come, be committed to revealing your hearts and minds to each other.
Thirdly, I’d advise you to Forgive. When something big goes wrong in a marriage, you must swiftly pardon. Marriages that survive are marriages that forgive. For most, it’s not the major traumas that destroy the marriage. It’s the daily bleeding. Things that go wrong are kept back in bloody little packs of resentment. If not dealt with, these little packs grow into parcels and take on lives of their own. They warp your perception. In they end, they destroy. Resentment robs your relationship of joy and stops your progress in faith. It’s impossible to skip hand in hand, singing, “The hills are alive ...,” if you’re carrying a ton of resentment.
Jesus’ forgiveness is freely given out of abundant grace – up to 490 times! What we’ve received freely and we should freely give. On the other hand, unforgiveness chains us to potent, harmful feelings from which we can never get free without divine aid. So, in loving ways, continually remind each other of your commitment to your marriage. Develop non-threatening, compassionate communication. Deal daily with any little pack of resentment before it becomes a parcel or a burden.
race Finally, let me revert to that other wedding – the one in Cana of Galilee that I read about earlier. It wasn’t a quiet wedding. There were at least six hundred quarts of wine made after the first had run out. This making wine from water was the first sign of Jesus’ his identity. Today, if you want to be known, you spam the world with e-mails. But Jesus simply goes to a wedding. Why?
Partly because he wants to help out in time of need; partly to celebrate his Father’s gift of marriage; but mostly to demonstrate the richness of divine grace. Grace is “underserved favor.” It’s as if, when Jesus arrived, he was saying: “I’m here now, bringing gallons and gallons and gallons of favor." Such favor, as symbolized in the wedding wine, points to unconditional love, humble communication, and faith, knowing that you may always call on Divine intervention when the going really gets rough. And it most certainly will get rough at times. But if you intentionally practice these virtues and seek the face of Jesus in your marriage, you’ll demonstrate G-d’s grace to the world, and all who you meet will see His glory in you both.
For the Heavenly Father is committed to you. He invented marriage. He says it’s good. He’s agreed to working with you, to develop the resources you’ll need to be successful.
Today, of all days, you probably feel 150% committed to your marriage. But the Heavenly Father is millions of times more committed to your marriage than even you. Jesus said: “I’ll not leave you alone. I’m with you always, even unto the ends of the earth.” And the ends of the earth include Atmore Alabama, your kitchen, your living room, your bedroom, your shed and the secret places in your woods where frogs grow old together. He’s going to be there. Two’s company, they say; but
in this case, three is no crowd. Amen.
September 27, 2003