September 27th, 2010

September 25, 2010: Wedding Charge for Greg Warmuth and Donna Bradshaw

Greg and Donna, I first want to thank you for the privilege of sharing in this day.  You have let me into your life in a very personal way, and I don’t take it for granted.  Linda and I both feel a special connection to you and we share your joy on your wedding day.

Last night was our first opportunity to meet some of the extended Swanson and Warmuth families, including your parents and siblings and Greg’s kids. 

I don’t want to say your families are colorful, but we did sit beside with your big brothers, Donna. Between that and Greg’s mother’s dramatic introduction to her gift to Donna, it looks like you’re in for a lot of fun at family gatherings on either side.

You wanted to keep your wedding simple, so my remarks will be brief.  You chose 1 Corinthians 13 for your Scripture reading.  As I read that passage again today, the Apostle Paul’s words reminded me of the risk of love.

Neither of you is a stranger to risk.  You have taken risks in business, in choosing a church, in bringing children into the world. 

To love is to risk.  It is a risk to open your heart to someone.  The only people who can truly hurt you are those you care most about.

Paul didn’t use the language of risk in 1 Corinthians 13, but it’s all over every phrase in his description of how love acts.

Love is patient.  It’s less risky to lurch forward.  It may not always work out but at last you know where you stand sooner.

Love is not proud.  It’s less risky to be arrogant than humble.  The more insistent you are, the more likely you are to gather a few people around you who know you’re right.

Love keeps no record of wrongs.  It’s less risky to keep score – on paper or in your heart.  Nobody’s perfect, but if you can chalk up more imperfections to your partner than to yourself, at least you’ll feel better in the short term.

Love always trusts.  It’s less risky to check up, investigate, verify.

Love never fails.  It’s less risky to give up, walk away, close up your heart so you can’t be hurt anymore.

Both of you have been burned by the risk of love.  You didn’t give up.  You were given up on.  And you could have put a protective shell around your heart and said, “No more love.  It’s not worth the risk.”

To give up on love is to give up on God, because he made us in his image.  It’s to give up on grace, to say that one failure marks us for life.  But you haven’t done that.

Greg, I’ve known Donna longer than I’ve known you.  Linda and I have walked with her through some tough times, some uncertain times, and some joyful times.  I’ve watched her kids grow through their adolescence, and watched her love them.  I’ve seen stability and strength re-emerge in her life by grace.

I want to confirm what you already know, Greg.  She is so worth the risk of love.

Donna, I first met Greg at a Hickory Crawdads baseball game.  Linda and I felt a little protective of  you at first – like we needed to be parents checking out your date and suspiciously evaluating whether he was worthy of our friend Donna.

Now that I’ve spent just a little bit of time with him up close and personal, I want to confirm what you already know.  He is so worth the risk of love.  He is kind and wise and caring and faithful and flexible.  For what it matters, you have Bob and Linda’s blessing!

But even when you’re this sure and it feels this right, love is still a risk.  Especially the second time around.  Every marriage feels right on the wedding day.

The only way the risk will be worth it long term is if both of you give it all you’ve got – your whole heart, holding nothing back.  As Paul says, be patient with each other.  Don’t be proud.  Don’t keep score.  Give the benefit of the doubt.  And never, ever, ever give up.

You’re here at this altar because of the same grace that brought you into God’s family.  Only Jesus Christ could make you worthy of heaven by his death and resurrection.  And only Christ can bring you home having kept your vows until the day you die, giving evidence to everyone who watches that love is worth the risk.  Amen.

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