Sermon Davis Nolan/Ed Maurer wedding

September 26, 2011 at 6:32 am Leave a comment

The Rev. Maurice C. Frontz, III, STS
Wedding Homily – Davis Nolan and Edward Maurer
Saturday, September 24, 2011

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

I can tell a lot about a couple during the first pre-marital counseling session.
I could tell not only how incredibly excited
Davis was to be planning her long-awaited dream wedding,
I could tell how happy she was to be planning it with Ed.
I could tell Ed’s care for Davis
by how they sat close together and chose the bulletin cover,
the texts for the service,
the vows they would speak to each other.
I could tell that both Ed and Davis
desired that their service of marriage honor the God who created them,
who redeemed them through Jesus Christ,
and who has brought them together to live out their discipleship in the state of marriage.

But I couldn’t tell you why they chose the second reading from Romans 12.
Now maybe it’s because it’s the shortest of the epistle readings we suggest for marriage.
Maybe it’s because it’s different –
it’s not 1st Corinthians 13 which, while beautiful, is heard at so many wedding services.
I’d like to think it’s because they both recognized that in Romans 12:1
we have a particularly insightful way of looking at what love is,
both God’s love for us and our love for God and each other.

After 11 chapters of explaining to the Church in Rome
just what great things God has done for us in Jesus Christ,
St. Paul says, “Therefore.”
Because God has done this; therefore, what should we do?
What is to be our response to God’s great love and mercy toward us?
“Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God,
which is your spiritual worship.”
In a world in which animal sacrifice was still common;
in a world where the life of the spirit
and the life of the body were often viewed as separate,
Paul says that what we do with our bodies is our spiritual worship of God.

Now maybe this just means, “Get your bodies to church on Sundays.”
It is significant that you have come to the Church to speak your vows,
not because this is a beautiful place to be married,
not because your families expect you to be here,
but because you believe that it is God has brought you together
and you desire that your marriage be blessed by God and the prayers of his people.

And you have indicated that your life together
will be lived in the worshiping community of Christ’s Church.
I’m sure that St. Paul would approve of all this.

But what is so surprising and amazing and thrilling about this
is that after telling the Romans to present their bodies to God,
Paul does not launch into a discussion of a worship service.
Paul assumes Christians will worship God together.
Instead he talks in Romans 12 about how Christians are to treat each other.
This is spiritual worship – offering our bodies to God and to each other in love.
Every person, whether single or married or widowed,
shows love for God and others by what is offered in the body,
and receive the gifts of God’s love through others.
With our ears we listen to God’s Word and each other’s words.
With our tongues we build each other up and teach each other knowledge,
speak gentle words of forgiveness, and sing God’s praises.
Our hands plant and build and cook and clean and reach out to give and heal,
and are folded or raised in prayer.
Our eyes are called to look at what is noble
and our minds are renewed by the beauty that we see.
Our feet carry us to be with others and dance for joy in what God has created.
Our minds reflect and dream and vision and plan and give direction
to the rest of the body which was created for God’s service.
Again, whether single or married or widowed,
we share in this spiritual worship of the offering of our bodies.

You, Davis and Edward, have been called into the state of marriage.
Not everyone is called to this state of discipleship.
It is a calling to each of you to present yourself to God’s service
in the unreserved giving of your body to the other
and the receiving of the other’s as a gift.
Perhaps we can only hear these words as referring to the gifts of married life
which Solomon justly celebrates in his Song of Songs:
“Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away!”
And this indeed in Christ is spiritual worship.
But your listening to each other, your speaking to each other
is also the giving of the body for the other.
Your building and planting and cleaning
and cooking and working and praying for each other,
your dreaming and planning and laughing and crying with each other,
are and will be just as much the giving of your bodies to each other,
your spiritual worship of God.
And in and through your mutual giving and receiving
may God be well pleased to continue his creation,
bringing children to share in your love,
who will be formed in faith to offer their own bodies to God and others.
“Love one another as I have loved you,”
our Lord Jesus said to his disciples.
Give yourselves for each other, receive each other as gifts.
For when our God took on flesh,
when Jesus Christ took a body, he gave it on the cross for all of us,
and both Lutherans and Roman Catholics confess
that we receive his body and blood in the Holy Eucharist.
He did so for the sake of eternal community with us.
so that when you speak the words, “until death parts us,”
you do so in the faith that not even death can separate us,
that it is God’s good will to restore us to our bodies and to each other
and all things to himself.

Davis and Edward, as you rejoice in what has been,
give thanks for what is,
and pledge yourselves to what shall be,
we pray that your life together may not be conformed
to this world’s narrow vision,
but may be transformed by the renewing of your minds
into the life of mutual giving and receiving of self
intended for you in Christ our Lord.

In the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

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