Introduction God plainly and honestly says This is what I want you to do.
Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly With Your God
I have done a lot of weddings. Over the years, I have never used the phrase If anyone can show just cause why these two should not be married. I did that for the first time ever yesterday just for a gag and to make a point about the couples history.
I have never used this phrase because it didnt make sense to me. I realize it makes for a great dramatic moment in movies and television what better time for the true love to make his entrance and stop the wedding. But thats drama. In reality, I have always thought if this priest and these people do not the reason the couple shouldnt be married at this point, then they havent been paying attention!
I believe that the assembly gathered for the wedding ought to be the people who know every just cause as to why a couple should be married. In fact, they ought to know the reason why any of us are ever married and why we regard that with respect. If you are a guest at the weddings I officiate then I expect something of you. I expect you to be among the cloud of witnesses that testify to the covenants that God wants us to live by. I expect you to be there on the day the couple makes their vows and I want you to be there years later if they are struggling to keep those vows. [And you just thought you were supposed to bring a gift and enjoy some cake.]
When I ask a couple to stand and be recognized for 50, 60 or 70 years of marriage I intentionally say thank you for showing us the wisdom of Gods ways.
What if we were all stakeholders in the Covenants God Gave us?
We are all stakeholders in these covenants at every stage. It is not just married people who have an investment in marriage covenant. Young, old, single, divorce, re-married: we all hold a stake in these covenants. When it comes to the marriage covenants, we all want to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
Text: Matthew 19:1-12
A word about ...
Being Single ...
Being Divorced ...
We can pray for Gods will since we know it so well, but lets not be foolish or naïve and pretend divorce does not happen. Not even God does that. He hates divorce. Why? Because it tears up the people he loves. If you have been divorced you know what I mean. I went through a divorce with good friends and all of us felt the pain of it. One day we were discussing Malachi 2:14. My friend spoke, God says, I hate divorce. Well, I do too. I dont think there is any better way to understand this text.
Where do we get the idea that God doesnt recognize divorce? Of course he does. He hates it. Some institutional religions do not recognize divorce and without an institution we can still do a fairly good job of ignoring divorce. Do we ignore cancer? Do we ignore serious ailments? Do we ignore grief? If we recognize that those are situations that call for Gods healing and ministry, then let us also recognize that when divorce happens we need to respond with prayer, ministry, healing and as appropriate, reconciliation. There is no biblical warrant for treating divorce as an unforgivable sin. If you are divorced and have felt that you have been shunned or shamed, then please let us reconcile with you. We want to walk humbly with you in what can be a difficult and painful process.
We all rejoice when a marriage covenant is made, let us all grieve when one is dissolved. We all have a stake in this for better or for worse. Of course in Jesus Christ the worst things are never the last things and we do have hope to share.
Being Married (Better and Worse)
Every situation is different. If you are struggling, then go to those who have invested in the success and well-being of your relationship. Go to the shepherds and ministers of this congregation. Ask them to bless you in the name of Jesus Christ. Submit yourselves to the wisdom and counsel of others who will hold you accountable in a loving and gracious spirit.
Ask for the resources that are available. This is why we contracted with ACT a few years ago. Thank God that he has blessed us to make this available. Thank God for those who have taken advantage of these resources. There has been healing for many of them. They may be the ones who will assist you.
I am not going to propose or offer a simple plan or quick fix. If there was such a plan I would be worth a fortune if I could write the one book on it all. But I do know this: We are all stakeholders in the covenants of God the covenants that he has given us to live by, and with his help we will all strive to do live by them.
Preaching this is difficult it always is, but not preaching it is worse. I realize how difficult it can be for people to hear. That is because I am not preaching about general concepts, but I am preaching about the experiences and realities of people that I care about, people I know, people that I love.
But isnt that what God is doing through his word. When God talks about marriage, divorce, and remarriage, he isnt simply setting up policy or civic law. He isnt establishing an institution of marriage, rather he is talking about and speaking to people that he cares about, people that he knows, people that he loves.
What I hope to accomplish is to model a way for us to speak openly, truthfully, and plainly about these realities that have to do with the covenants that we live by Gods covenants. And I hope that we can do the same. I hope that concerning these matters: marriage, divorce, being single, being family, we will do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.
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