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September 4th, 2016

Tom and Misty, thanks for the joy of sharing this day with you.  I have heard about your amazing family and have even met some of them briefly, but the way you talk about them with such appreciation and affection makes it very special to share this day with you.  I love how your Ryan and Carrie, Morgan and Ricky, and Gini and Dylan are symbolically surrounding you, each pair standing together to link your two families.  I love you how have involved in this service both sets of parents as well as your siblings who were able to join you today.

I love the songs you’ve chosen today, which remind me of what you wrote out for me when I asked you to write out why you are marrying each other.  In turn, many of those sentiments are also reflected in the passage of Scripture you chose. 

Honestly, not many couples these days choose Ephesians 5 for their wedding.  It’s frowned on in our modern culture.  But those who spurn it miss out on the beauty of God’s design for marriage.  I title that passage, “You, Me, and Us.”  I love how you arranged for it to be read just like that, without any prompting from me – Misty’s sister (22-24), then Tom’s brother (25-31), then both of them reading together (32-33).  When this passage is properly read, it expresses some of the most profound ideas of marriage.

St. Paul first speaks to wives, and tells them to submit to their husbands as to the Lord.  “Submit” is a word most Americans, regardless of gender, don’t like, but the Bible loves it. Christians are called to submit to God, to government, to parents, to church leaders, to bosses, and even to each other in the church.  The word “submit” means to voluntarily place yourself under.  It’s a supreme act of our humanness that we can choose to yield to someone else – not because we’re less than, because we’re not.  We submit because we love and trust God.

One of the songs you chose for today says, “I surrender who I’ve been for who you are.”  Misty, when you wrote about marrying Tom you said there are parts of your past you aren’t particularly proud of, but in Tom you found someone who knew your whole story and loves you completely.  In surrendering who you’ve been to who Christ is, and then to who Tom is, you have found strength and grace and support.  I love that!

Then St. Paul speaks to husbands, and he gives an even taller order: “Love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  Tom, you also described years of wandering until you were able to fully embrace your faith.  Misty has been a huge part of that story.  You have come to know what it means that Christ loved you and gave himself for you. You told me last night about some of the things you’ve been a part of, from flying F-16s to developing data centers to handing out food after the fall of the Soviet Union to Google and Apple.  Then you added that none of that compares to the excitement of this day.  Another song you chose today is one that Linda, my wife of 38 years, and I love: “Baby, I’m amazed by you.”  You’re so committed to loving Misty because you have been loved by God and by Misty.

At the end of the passage, Paul speaks to both husbands and wives. That’s the “Us” part. He says this passage isn’t really about husbands and wives!  It’s a symbol of Christ and his church.  It’s a symbol because love itself is a mystery.  Who knows why or how it happens?  These two, “you and me” become one “us” and the bond between you make you realize there’s something so much greater than you at work.

Last night after your rehearsal I charmed Linda by reading her some of the lyrics from another of your songs.  I know what you mean when you look at each other and say, “When God made you, he must have been thinking of me.”  It’s such a beautiful thing, and I know that both of you have seen this in your parents and you deeply want the rest of your life together to reflect that level of commitment and partnership.

Christ loves his church not because the church is worthy but because of who he is.  The gospel is not about what we deserve but what he did on the cross for us.  So every marriage that endures is a picture of his unconditional love, that for him it wasn’t all about him – it was sacrificing himself for us.

So here’s why Americans don’t like this passage.  We complain, “I want to be me, I want someone to make me happy, I want my needs to be met.”  A marriage will never survive like that – ask Gary and Pat or Dot and Ralph.   Sure, it starts that way, and the early joy of a relationship is knowing that someone I love loves me back.  But somewhere along the line I realize that the feeling of being loved rises and falls.  This can never be about you or me, it has to be about us.

The deepest need of a man is to feel significant, to feel important, that he’s making a contribution.  The deepest need of a woman is security – not financial security but the security of being loved unconditionally by her husband.

Paul ends this text by saying that a husband should love his wife and a wife should respect her husband.  Why?  Because marriage is not about what you get; it’s about what you give.

Tom, you’ve already shown Misty that she is secure in your unconditional love.  Don’t ever stop.  Misty, you’ve already given to Tom a depth of significance that he’s never had in his rather significant career.  Keep it up, until you die.  Amen.

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