Stepping Into Marriage

Photo by Serenity Richard Photography
Text:  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Katelyn, Andrew, Family, and friends: grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Our society tends to glamorize personal freedom and independence, to the point that many people in our culture pride themselves on being free from all things and free from all people!  These individuals function like independent islands – disconnected from everyone and reliant on no one.  These individuals will even boast about their freedom that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want – that they do not depend on anybody for anything.  These people are sometimes called ‘free spirits.’  These free spirits will not belong to any cause or any organization or any value system or even a church.  These free spirits only belong to themselves and they only live for themselves. 

Today Katelyn and Andrew, you both are entering into a happy alternative to the independent free spirit life that I just described.  Indeed, this day you are declaring before God and your families that you do not want to spend this life as isolated independent islands, but rather, you want to spend your lives together as a married couple. 

Now, this is very good. 

It is good because, as you know, life is hard.  Yes, life brings forth hazards and hardships.  In other words, there will be times when you will slip in the mud of life and fall down, which will result in getting all sorts of bumps and bruises.  There will be other times where life confronts you like a cold blast of wind – that kind of wind that takes your breath away and causes pain in your lungs.  And yes, there will be times that dishonest and conniving crooks will try to overpower you. 

Such is life. 

But you, Katelyn and Andrew, take comfort, for today you marry each other.  Today you are coming together, joining as husband and wife.  This means that if you fall in the mud of life Katelyn, Andrew will be there to pick you up, wipe away the mud, kiss the bruises, and bandage the wounds.  And when life blows against you Andrew and causes you to shiver from its harsh gusts, know this, Katelyn will be at your side to keep you warm. 

That is why we hear from Ecclesiastes that two are better than one.  Life can be harsh; it is especially harsh when a person has to face all of life’s sorrow alone.  However, Katelyn and Andrew, as of today, you will no longer be alone.  Katelyn, you will not have to face anything alone, for Andrew is now with you, as your husband.  Andrew, you will not have to face anything alone, for Katelyn is here with you, as your wife. 

Not only will the both of you be there for each other in the tough times, but together as husband and wife, you will celebrate the small joys of life together.  Joys, like getting that new job promotion, going to a new restaurant for the first time, having your first child together, going on your first family vacation, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and the list can go on and on. 

There is no doubt about it that two are better than one, for when one falls down the other is there to help.  Indeed two are better than one, for celebrating the joys of life with another is simply phenomenal.    

Katelyn and Andrew, today you are coming together as a bride and groom.  You are like two cords or two ropes being wrapped together.  With this stated, we must make sure to recognize that the two of you alone do not make a marriage.  In other words, your coming together this day does not create a marriage, but rather, you are stepping into marriage as a bride and groom. 

In our reading from Ecclesiastes we most certainly hear about two cords being wrapped together, but in the last portion of our reading, we hear that a cord of three strands is not easily broken.  Yes, we hear that a tripled cord is not quickly torn. 

Katelyn and Andrew, you are not two separate cords being wrapped together by yourself, but rather, you are two separate cords being wrapped together around another cord – that third cord.  What is that third cord?  Katelyn and Andrew, the estate of marriage has been created by God and it is God’s gift to you.  Therefore, a husband and wife do not make a marriage, but rather, a husband and wife step into marriage and take their place within the gift of marriage. 

Do you realize what this means?  Katelyn and Andrew, as husband and wife, you are not an independent island, disconnected and alone.  No, by no means!  Today, you are stepping into the Lord God’s gift of marriage; you are being wrapped around that strong cord, which is the Lord Himself. 
Katelyn and Andrew, this marriage estate is God’s gift to you—because of His love to you.  Furthermore, marriage is God’s design for love to flourish. Yes, just as you were created due to God’s love and just as you were redeemed by the Lord’s great love, today you are entering into this blessed union called marriage; a marriage that is encased with love and given to you as a gift.

Katelyn and Andrew, marriage is the perfect setup and the perfect gift to you this day.  You are received into it, and within this marriage union ordained by God, you receive each other as the Lord teaches you to walk in the unforced rhythms of love.’   Within marriage, your love is enclosed in God’s greater love – that third cord. 

Katelyn and Andrew, today a new life begins for both of you in marriage.  You begin as two lives joined into one life, within God’s gift of marriage.  Therefore, receive each other this day and receive the gift of becoming husband and wife for each other.  Receive the gift of marriage, for it is within this marriage that you are held; held within the Lord’s love, you cannot fall apart. 

Katelyn and Andrew, at the end of each day being enveloped in the gift of marriage – being wrapped around that third cord – you will lay it all out before the Lord, nothing kept back, nothing held outside His forgiveness and His love.  Yes, confident of Christ’s love and forgiveness, today you are bold to make the staggering full-size promises of marriage. 

In the days to come you both may fear that your love for each other may wear thin, but take comfort that Christ’s love does not fail or weigh thin.  Yes, running with and through your love, with its ups and downs, is His Love - for you.  Yes, within His larger love, your love for each other need have no fear but can grow and deepen. 

Katelyn and Andrew, the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in that third cord - Christ Jesus and His love - for you. 


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(Note: Pithy phrases and portions of the sermon above are direct excerpts from two Norman Nagel Sermons in the book "Selected Sermons of Norman Nagel."  Thus, the message above is indebted to Dr. Norman Nagel.)

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