Sermon: Advent 4 RCL A – Wedding Day

The podcast is available here.

Three men, one from Texas one from Mississippi and one from Louisiana were sitting together bragging about how they had given their new wives duties.

The one from Texas had, of course, married a girl from Texas and bragged that he told his wife she was to do all the dishes and house cleaning. He said it took a couple of days but on the third day he came home to a clean house and clean dishes.

The man from Mississippi had married a girl from Florida and bragged how he told her she was to clean the house, wash the dishes and have his supper on the table when he got hone. By the third day things fell right into place, the house was cleaned, the dishes all washed and his supper was on the table when he got home.

The third man, old Boudreaux had married Chlotiel from Louisiana and boasted that he told her that her duties were to keep the house clean, dishes washed, and the lawn mowed and a hot meal on the table. The first day he didn’t see anything, the second day he didn’t see anything, but by the third day, most of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of his left eye, enough to fix himself something to eat, load the dishwasher, and telephone a landscaper.

Marriage is difficult and not all of us have been very successful at it, but can you imagine an angel of the Lord telling you that you are to marry the Lord’s chosen vessel and be the Son of God’s stepdad? It’s an old joke, but think of it: Joseph tells Jesus to do something and little Jesus puts his hands on his hips and responds, “You can’t tell me what to do. You’re not my real dad.” Seriously. What are you going to do with that? But God in his wisdom knew what kind of man Joseph was and God knew that if there was any one man that could be the earthly father to his One and Only Son, it would be Joseph. Therefore, as our Gospel reading stated, “When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took [Mary] as his wife.” They were married and yet, even though it is perhaps the most famous of all marriages, we know very little about their life together.

Following the birth of Jesus, they fled to Egypt to avoid Herod’s murderous nature, then returned to Nazareth where they led a quiet life, except for the time Jesus got left behind in Jerusalem. We know very little, but apparently the marriage of Mary and Joseph had a profound effect on Jesus, for he used the language of marriage throughout his ministry and teachings. For example, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” Jesus spoke these words to the disciples, shortly before his death, but in a traditional Jewish wedding, these are the words that a groom would say to his fiancé. I’m going to prepare a place for us to live and when it is ready, I’ll come back for you and we can be married.

We also know that the language of the last supper is almost identical to the marriage covenant made between a man and a woman: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” These are the words of Jesus at the Last Supper, but the groom says similar words to the bride, out of love for you, if necessary, I will shed my blood, I will lay down my life, all of which points us to that greatest of all expressions of love: the cross and Jesus’ death.

Following his death and resurrection, the disciples continued to use the language of marriage to describe the relationship between Christ and the Church, the church being referred to as the Bride of Christ; and as the Church, this is something we confirm at the beginning of every wedding:

Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony. The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people.”

Ask ol’ Boudreaux and he’ll likely tell you that he is prayin’ for an early death just to get out of his marriage, but in its perfected state, marriage “signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church,” which is why marriage is not just about the happy couple. It is for us all, for on the last day, we are all the bride—the bride of Christ—therefore, as any bride would do, we make ourselves ready. From John’s Revelation:

“Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure.”

And since we do not know the hour or the day of this great wedding feast, then everyday, we as the bride, must be prepared, we make ourselves ready, everyday; dressed in fine linen, bright and pure, because everyday has the potential of being our wedding day. Everyday there exists the possibility that we will see our Groom standing there, beckoning us to himself.

As the young woman says in the Song of Solomon:

The voice of my beloved!
Behold, he comes,
leaping over the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Behold, there he stands
behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
looking through the lattice.
My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away,
for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.

Arise, my love, my beautiful one.”

“My beloved is mine, and I am his.”

Our beloved Christ Jesus calls to us: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, for he is ours and we are his. Therefore, let us prepare ourselves for our wedding, to our beloved.

The light of God surrounds us,
The love of God enfolds us,
The power of God protects us,
The presence of God watches over us,
Wherever we are, God is,
And where God is, all is well.

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