Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Wedding Sermon on 1 Corinthians 13

Love, love, love,
love, love, love,
love, love, love.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

(You ought to be glad I didn’t sing that!
(Perhaps if we need to clear the building at the end!

Profound words!

It may not be the greatest poetry, but it’s true in a way.
Love is all you need.
Well, yes, all sorts of other things (like a house and a car and some money in the bank) would come in handy, ideally.
But all you really need is love.
But you better make sure that it’s real, true love.
Love as defined and described by our Bible reading.

We read:
“Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.”

Often we have a superficial or sentimental view of love.
We confuse lust with love.

It’s easy to be in love on your wedding day.
Kathryn, you look stunning.
And, Andy, you’ve scrubbed up acceptably too.
But it’s much more challenging to love one another on a rainy Monday morning 20 years from now.
You may be shocked to wake up and find that the vision of loveliness you married, is not quite the same a couple of decades from now!
Time and gravity may have done their work.

It’s at times like that that we need to remember that love is more than a quickened heart-rate and a flow of blood.
Loving is not just about being in love.
Love isn’t just something that comes upon us, as our eyes meet across a field of bullocks – or however it was for you!
The Bible commands us to love.
Love is a commitment and a promise as well as a feeling and an emotion.
Love involves our decision and determination.
Today you’ll pledge yourselves to love one another come what may, whether you feel like it or not.
Make sure you work hard at loving one another.

We hope that your married life together will be one of unbroken bliss:
That everything will go from one degree of marvelousness to another, that each new day will be better than the last.
How wonderful it would be if 60 years from now you could truly say you were even more in love than on your wedding day.

But experience tells us that there may well be tough times, even in the best of marriages.
It’s then that your marriage vows really kick in.
You’ll have given your word to be there for one another for worse, sicker and poorer.

Real love is what you need then.
Love (real love) is all you need.

As we think about real love, all of, if we’re honest, know that we fall far short.
Only this morning, I was grumpy with Mrs Lloyd and the kids.
I was in my study, working on the graveyard regulations, and my 3 year old son came in wanting to shred some paper with me in my new shredder.
My response was less than ideal.
Not very patient or kind; a bit proud and rude and self-seeking and easily angered.
And there’s no way I’m telling you about the Vicar’s more serious sins!
But Mrs Lloyd could if she was so minded – which, thankfully, she isn’t!

If love is blind, marriage is certainly an eye-opener.
And you’ll know each other’s faults better than anyone.

All of us know there are times when we’re less than loving.
We all need God’s forgiveness and help.

The good news is that the Bible tells us that God is love.
If we replaced the word “love” in our Bible reading with the word “God” we wouldn’t have a bad description of God.

God is patient and kind.
He does not envy, nor boast.
God is not proud or rude or self-seeking or easily angered.
God does not keep a record of wrongs.
He does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
God never fails.

The Bible says:
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

Or again:
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

God loves us, even though we’re not always terribly lovely.
And God never gives up on us.
His love and forgiveness are always freely available in Jesus.

Love is all you need.
God is love.
God is all you need!

We were made to know God, to love him and be loved by him.
Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in him.
All of us are insufficient for the task of marriage.
But God’s grace is sufficient for us.
What’s impossible for us is possible with God.

Kathryn and Andy, my prayer for you is that you’ll both grow closer to God and to one another over the years.
God is like the apex of a triangle, with you as the base
 or the centre of a wheel with you as the spokes.
The closer to God you get, the closer you’ll be to one another.
The more you love God, the more you’ll love one another.

Andy and Kathryn, may you find God’s incomparable love to be all that you really need.
And may you love one another, within the unfailing love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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