Pastor's Perusals

Wedding Homily delivered in October 2021

Well we made it…sort of…we are in person, that has to count for something. Being online is a common experience these days. This pandemic has endured for 560 days. Think about that…that’s well over a year and a half. There is much to be thankful for today. We have a young couple who is getting married. This is a special time to enter into. It’s unlike university frosh week and living on residence. It’s unlike starting your first day on the job. It closely resembles the first time they met together. Think about it, there was attraction, interest and prospects of what could be. Now getting married is going to take it to a whole other level. See, getting married shares the likeness of meeting the one who you are standing side by side today. But what exactly makes marriage different? We can’t deny that the person you marry is not fully known even though you have eaten dozens of meals, which means you figured out what and where to eat together. Even if you have figured out where you will live, now you need to see what it will be like to live with that person. Marriage makes things different.

What makes things different? More to the point, what makes a Christian marriage different? Our passage today read for us shows us what a Christian marriage looks like. First off, marriage has to do with a man and a woman committing to each other in lifelong partnership. What would differ in a Christian marriage has to do with Christ being honoured in the marriage by two Christians; one man, one woman. See our passage describes Christians as those who submit to one another out of their reverence for Jesus Christ. For a Christian couple, reverence is relevant to the relationship. Reverence for Christ means our heart’s priorities are brought under God. Reverence is an attitude that lives with values shaped by faith (an active trust in God by depending on Him), hope (firm confidence in what is unseen that will come into the present) and love (committed to God by showing it in voluntarily, willingly, joyous activity). Reverence is to be held accountable by God for our actions. Reverence is about living single-mindedly and simply for God. Out of reverence for Christ there is mutual submission. This takes willingness to radically trust each other without opt outs and loopholes and strings attached. There are no if’s or but’s or any other conditions than that Christ is our motivation.

Now with this established, Paul describes what wives are doing is submitting to their husbands. It is clarified as being submitted in everything to their husbands. Not some things, but everything. Remember this is a Christian marriage we are talking about. There is inner delight in submitting because Christ is the Lord of the relationship. It’s because of Christ that a wife submits to her husband. It has to do with His personal presence in the marriage that He is blessing and overcoming our weaknesses. The wife is submissive is not a putdown or humiliating. It’s redeeming, nurturing and intelligent in its design.

The husband is not given a free pass as if he does nothing but sit on the couch. He is commanded to love his wife. But it’s all in relation to Christ loving the church. And how did Christ show His love for the church? By dying for her. Christ’s death was by crucifixion on a Roman torturing tool called a cross. But the way Christians hear of Jesus’ death it is not simply a public execution. It’s more than that. How do we know that? Because of who Jesus is. He is the Son of God. He is the Messiah. Not simply a good man or teacher who told nice stories. He embodies the very truth He speaks of. When Jesus describes Truth He personalises it to Himself. He is not a way to God, He is the way to God, the only one! He isn’t simply one light among many lights. He is the light of the world. Jesus Christ is the King of the universe. And because Christians confess this, we see His death on the cross as the way through which God redeems, ransoms, and reconciles us. It is the supreme revelation of God’s love for sinners. That’s what we are. We are those who have fallen from grace and under the power of sin. But we were not meant to stay in sin. What is sin? It’s a power that renders us self-centred thus producing selfishness. Sin turns us inward and concerned about our own lives alone (ie. “It’s my money,” “My body, I can do whatever I want to it”, “My life, my stress, my happiness” “work-life balance”, “me-time” “you only live once”…no wonder adulting is so hard!) We turn from God and thus live in darkness. God never intended us to live like this. So you see, sin that produces self-centredness that makes us selfish is now given a promise that in marriage, God will bring an end to our selfishness.

Self-centredness is the problem of our lives. And there is nothing we can do about it. No amount of education will ever be able to liberate you from the power of belly button gazing. No amount of self-help and do-it-yourself attempts can redeem us. No human religion can solve this problem. The Christian solution to the problem of sin is to find our hearts de-centred. Jesus Christ and Him crucified is God coming to us in our sin. While the roof caves in, the windows break and the foundation cracks here comes the Saviour for a people who can’t save themselves. Do you know that? Did anyone tell you that not only can you not save yourself but the One who will save you, created you, cares for you and concerned about you and the ditch you are in? And the good news today is that He has already done something about it! He who was betrayed, arrested, falsely accused, condemned to death and mocked and jeered and humiliated, dies violently on the cross, is now raised to new life never to die again. Jesus Christ, the only one in history to be raised from the dead is alive in heaven at God’s right hand today. Jesus Christ, the man who lives for others and not Himself has put to death our old person (the OLD YOU) that we might be raised with Him. Believe and trust in Him for your salvation. He is a kind Lord. He doesn’t keep count of all your failures, wrongs and sins. He forgives and not accuses. He relents and not finds fault. He is compassionate and gracious to us and not distant or aloof from you today. Turn to Him as you hear His voice and submit to Jesus Christ. God will send His Holy Spirit to you to live inside of you. This, and this alone will turn us away from being self-centred to now leading to being Christ-centred and all this because God drives us to His feet and off the throne of our lives. Being married means it is no longer your own life.

Husbands are to love their wives the way Christ loves us. There is a standard here that every man who is married must hold to. Living with your wife in a manner that is caring and champions the cause of God’s kingdom is the sure path to victory. This whole talk about husbands and wives is because Jesus Christ fought against the evil one and defeated the powers of sin and death and the world. And what prize does Jesus Christ receive for His triumph? It’s the church! His bride! This isn’t the first time we observe this pattern. David goes up against the Philistine champion of Gath named Goliath. The winner of this combat will possess the enemy people and be given the king’s daughter as a reward. David is piqued in his interests and motivated not by the reward but to dispossess the proud and make known the honours of the humble King; David takes one swing and two and then three and whizz goes the stone and lands squarely on his forehead. Goliath doesn’t fall backwards but forward showing us the battle is the Lord’s. Goliath’s head is taken as a trophy and the king’s daughter is in hand. Israel wins! Now that’s a way of getting the girl!

One more story because I’m a dad and we recently just read and watched the childhood tale. It’s the story of a man who takes from the rich and gives to the poor. He is a champion for the poor and oppressed. He is a skilled archer and word is heard of an archery contest that whoever wins will get the hand of Maid Marian. Off goes Robin Hood in one of his many disguises and goes to the contest. As the story goes, Robin Hood wins the contest with a bullseye. I like the way the movie portrays it, one of his opponents bumps him to make his aim go amiss and he fires another one off and redirects it to a bullseye! Direct hit! Robin Hood wins and gets the hand of the damsel, Maid Marian.

The reception of the bride as a prize is what we are for Christ’s atoning work. He won not only the battle but our hearts and we are forever grateful. That’s why Christians have a habit of singing and making melody. Our spirits are inspired by the Holy Spirit of God to lift up praise and thanks to the One who has done it all. We belong to Him.

Now here’s where it all comes to its climax. It’s all about this good news that makes known the mystery. What mystery? Our Scripture today says the mystery is great & profound. Marriage points to it. It’s the mystery of God who takes on our humanity; completely and entirely and totally. God becomes man! See, the Scripture tells us that husbands are to love their wives as they love themselves. Christ loves His church because they are members of His body. Do you see? When Christ takes care of you and me as the husband He takes care of Himself because we are in Him. That is the mystery! The mystery is that we are in Christ…completely and entirely and totally. This is what marriage between one man and one woman who live in reverence for Christ portends…we are in union with God. That is the goal and has always been God’s goal with people. When we are married, we reflect God’s image the way God intended. After all, marriage is God’s institution not a humanly doctored thing. God’s design reflected in two becoming one; leaving home and living under the blessing of God all the days of our life.


One of the truest and beautiful things about the second Monday of October is that it is unmarketable. Think about it. Save Thanksgiving and Easter, this isn’t the best shot for money-making grabs. It’s too deep for shallow waters. Thanksgiving has Christian influence and values written all over it. It’s a holiday (hear “holy-day”) that encourages people to be at home with their families. It’s a season as well that looks to remember those less fortunate. Food drives are common fare for this time. A gratitude that spills over to consideration of those who are in need is a worthy pursuit.

This sense of gratitude, to whom is it directed? As Christians, we are thankful to God. When we say God, I mean the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; which we name Trinity. It is a common refrain in the Psalms to call on people to give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 106:1; 107:1; 136:1). This continues with the church today. Modelling contentment in a world of avarice and want and concupiscence is a monumental challenge. We are not given being satisfied with what we have. It’s a challenge. After all, how does contentment with my lot and all that entails not give way to complacency when I am revel in satisfaction?

This question is not taken lightly. Here is where we go with it. Thanksgiving is a state and condition that a holiday observance aims to uphold as a way of life year round. Take Thanksgiving’s rival in October...Halloween. Notice the billions of dollars that advertisers can shake people down for from marketing human fears? Fear is a curious thing. Children who act like zombies are strangely mortified of zombies. The fascination with evil is a horror to behold (pun intended). What’s more is with the costume dress-up and partying and movies that aim at magnifying fear, it looks to make it a condition that we are fed into living year round.

This leads us to asking the question: where are you at? Are you more riddled with fear or being thankful? It’s an age old dichotomy between faith and fear. This is where our battle in October is waged. Listening to God we are fed with desires that are joy, contentment and strength (Philippians 4:11-13). Listening to our fears that fed through media and advertising leaves us insecure, suspicious and unsettled. It is the will of our Lord to be thankful for everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We may not be there, but faith is the only option for our growth in Him. It is not the will of the Lord to spook you. He delights in righteousness and hates wickedness (Psalm 45:7).

Doubtless, you will be eating a meal on Thanksgiving evening. It’s probable you may eat with others. Pause and take time to pray to God who bountifully provides and has sustained you with health and hope with family. Appreciate the moment and don’t look past it. You may just find there is something more when you are contented.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Shalom!

Happy Epiphany Day!

Perhaps it’s the lull over us in Ontario of things being scaled back. School is online, stores are reduced to 50% capacity, restaurants are back to takeout only and arenas are empty of fans. The peaking of this virus with its fifth variant makes it much to endure. Our sense of time gets blurred when we consider the feeling of Groundhog Day, where everything happens the same over and over. Staying at home, not having meet ups in person and taking up our favourite hobby all have the feeling of grinding and plowing through what seems to have no end.

But it does have an end! Epiphany marks a key moment for us. Revelation 15:4 says, “All nations shall come and worship before You. For Your judgements have been manifested.” The nations are represented for us in the coming of the Magi to the house of Christ. We are those who are included in on that promise. We, the Gentiles, are part and parcel of what God promised in the prophets long ago.

Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,

and thick darkness the peoples;

but the Lord will arise upon you,

and his glory will be seen upon you.

And nations shall come to your light,

and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Isaiah 60:1-3

Regaining a sense of time in a pandemic starts with worshipping Christ and fulfilling the promise made to us. Give Christ your resources of money and time and energy. Offer Him your all. After all, that is precisely what He has done for us. Celebrate Jesus Christ and give glory to God. Be at peace with one another and make peace with those in need. Shalom!