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The Holy Marriage of Kimberlyn Veniece Heidenreich and Mark Isaiah Wieting
December 1, 2017 A+D
St. John 2:1-11
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Lord announces Himself to the world by the miracle in Cana. It is the beginning of His public Ministry. This miracle is the first thing to follow His Baptism and Temptation. Having called His disciples, He sets His face towards Jerusalem’s gallows. He is on a mission to save the world. He will be betrayed, mocked, beaten, and killed and then rise again. This He will do because this is what it takes to save us, what is required to pay the ransom and make the atonement. He is the scapegoat and sacrifice, the incense and ram, the redemption and healing that we require. He is, Himself, our holy Substitute and Messiah.
And there in Cana, on the cusp of His work, with so much sorrow and difficulty before Him, He pauses. His purpose is not simply to make a happy occasion happier or merely to bless and honor marriage. He does those things, to be sure, but He pauses here, begins there, in order to demonstrate that He, Himself, is the Bridegroom. He has come for us. Out of water He gives the Spirit that makes glad the hearts of men. He begins at a wedding because He loves weddings. He loves marriage. He loves families. This is precisely what He has come to restore and redeem. The Lord setteth the solitary into families. The Fall of Eden is undone. Adam and Eve are reunited in Christ.
Holy Marriage is nothing less than a miracle. It is akin to turning water into wine for it is a supernatural reality that holds more than our eyes can see or our science can explain. It isn’t made by two people making a promise or signing a contract. Like Holy Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar, like the creation of the cosmos, Holy Marriage is made by God’s Word. He takes two and makes one. He speaks it so. Whatever He tells you to do, do it. No man should put this asunder.
To our fallen sight marriage might look as though it is simply a business arrangement or that it is built on human affection or even that it is a matter of convenience. But Holy Marriage is a Divine institution. God has made it to be the very foundation of society and civilization.
Marriage is not about happiness or contentment. It is about sacrifice and love for the other. This is also why children are so important. We need them not only to break our stuff to keep us from idolatry but we also need them to steal our time and energy. We were not meant to live for ourselves. We were meant to give ourselves away.
This is hard for sinners. They cannot do it on their own. Thus did God create Holy Marriage of which is both the author and the preserver. He maintains marriage the same way that He makes it: by His Word. A marriage that overcomes two selfish people who learn to actually love and forgive and serve one another in Christ is the clearest reflection and image of God’s love and union with man. More than anything else in this life, even being a parent, marriage is built upon and confesses the reality that in Christ it is possible to love another person, to forgive another person, and to sacrifice oneself, even one’s health and happiness, for another person.
It is a confession that it is worth it, that some things are more important than happiness, then health, then sanity. Holy Marriage stands before Hollywood and all the world, before the divorce courts and courts of public sentiment, and says: “This is what love is. It isn’t a feeling of contentment or peace. It isn’t spontaneous joy and pleasure. It is service, action. Love is what love does. It gives. It forgives. It endures.”
As St. Pauls says:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4–8a, ESV)
This is what it takes for Holy Marriage to be Holy and to endure. It must abide in His Word and love. It must subsist in daily repentance and forgiveness. It must confess against the world and against the flesh that love never ends. Love must not quit when things get tough.
For what God declares is not merely a statement or description. It is a promise.
“God made them male and female. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.”
We do not confess what marriage is based upon our experience or reason. We confess what it is based upon what Christ has said: “They are no longer two, but one flesh.” Again, that is not merely a description; it is a promise. This is a profound mystery. By grace, it can be more than confessed, it can also be lived. And in that living, that self-giving, is perfect joy.
Christ came to the wedding in Cana. He came to the wedding, to Cana. He chose to begin His public ministry in a very deliberate way. He is here with you today as well, continuing what He started. He is present in His Word. He still loves weddings and marriage. He still loves families. He hears your prayers this day and He hears our prayers for you. He does not turn water into wine here, but He does turn two into one. Let no man put it asunder.
The Lord setteth the solitary into familie. We were designed to live in families, as husbands and wives, parents and children. And even as He turns two into one, He turns sinners into saints, selfish people into mothers, lazy boys into providers and protectors. The master of the feast knows not where the wine came from, but the servants know. So do we. It came from Jesus. We know where grace comes from, where hope comes from, where the ability to live as husbands and wives in a fallen world and not quit comes from: it comes from Him, from His Cross, where He purchased us to be His own and from His resurrection where He sealed the victory and promised us life. This forgiveness and grace is the power of holy marriage bestowed by the Word of God. It enables two people to leave father and mother and become something new, something holy, to become one. It enables them to not only be forgiven but also to forgive, to give up their lives for their neighbors.
Christ came to Cana because He is the Bridegroom. That was His wedding. So is this. He pours out the wine of the Holy Spirit upon those already well-drunk for He is One who makes glad the hearts of men, whose mercy endures forever.
There is no water into wine today. But there is two into one. And God-willing there will be babies who get the Spirit-filled waters of Holy Baptism. There is a miracle in Ft. Wayne. The Lord setteth the solitary into families. He makes a husband and wife and shows the world His love for the other.
And that these two might stay one in this perilous plane, on Sunday morning, on the altars all over Christendom, the One who turned water into wine turns wine into Blood – and we know where it comes from, and we know what it does. It comes from Him. It gives the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. It makes men holy. And that is enough for Holy Marriage and for all of us.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.