This is a profound mystery, this union between Christ and the Church, between a husband and wife. Today, Chris and Hilary, you will be joined together in the sight of God. And we who know and love you are so excited! This is a special moment in God’s Story.
And it’s that Story that I want to mention at this point in the service. God’s Story. I want to remind you of this Story because I think that the last, most helpful, spiritual truth I can share with you as you head into marriage is this:
We are in the middle of God’s Story.
We all need to be reminded of this. I know that in my life, in my marriage, the biggest hurts and the biggest displays of brokenness come when I forget this truth. It’s so easy to think that the story is all about me that it’s Steve’s Story or Chris’ Story or Hilary’s Story. It’s easy to lose track of what God has been doing and of how the Story ends. It’s easy to lose track of God all together.
We are in the middle of God’s Story.
In the beginning this God made everything. And he continued to make and shape and form. In Genesis, God’s Word tells the story of God forming man and woman, guiding them together, setting their union into motion. One flesh.
God made Hilary. God made Chris. He does good work. He does very good work. God loves you, Hilary and I think he really, really likes you Chris. You are marrying a beautiful, much-loved fellow-creature. So love deeply, love wildly, love intimately, love passionately, get excited and turn off your inside voice…don’t hold anything back.
But know that we are in the middle of God’s Story. Not the beginning. And this won’t be simple.
God’s creation is no longer perfect. Some things have been broken, others shattered. We are all deeply flawed. When we look at the world with open eyes, when we look in the mirror, we don’t always see beauty. We don’t always experience love.
And though today we are full of love and joy, though this amazing day pushes the shadow of evil to the edge of our awareness, not even a day like today can erase the conflict in The Story. You are marrying a broken person, a flawed person, beautiful and much-loved, but broken and flawed. One of these days, Chris will do something stupid, he’ll play Halo all night even though Hilary is really upset. One of these days, Hilary will do something selfish, coming home with another pair of shoes, even though money is tight. Chris, Hilary, you will hurt each other. Don’t be shocked and don’t freak out. Do something crazy, forgive, forgive even as you’ve been forgiven.
You’re about to unite yourself to a broken person. You’re not picking a running mate, you’re getting married. And this beautiful person is broken. This seems like a crazy thing to do. But you’re not completely crazy.
Remember, we’re in the middle of God’s Story. And this Story doesn’t end with us being broken.
God loves with a crazy love, a love that changes The Story. Through his sacrificial death on the cross and his miraculous resurrection from the grave, Christ unites himself to the Church. Listen, the only unbroken person who ever lived unites himself deeply - marries himself - to the broken community called The Church. And through this union, Christ is unbreaking all of us, redeeming, reconciling, and restoring all who are united to him.
And he includes us in this. We join in what he’s doing in the lives of the people we love. Chris, Hilary, from this moment and every moment from now until The Story ends, you will be in the middle of God’s restoring work in each other’s life. You will help each other grow. You will help each other live. You will help each other follow and serve and love the Lord our God. The Story is still being written! Find out what God is doing and join him.
When you’re faithful, when you’re sacrificial, when you’re kind and gentle and patient and loving…then you will be living like Jesus and showing your spouse and the watching world what kind of God it is that we worship.
And when someone like me get up to preach and says that God’s Story has a happy ending, people will look at your marriage, see God’s beautiful love on display and see that I’m not just talking, that this God-story really matters.
Remember, we are in the middle of God’s Story.
The best is still to come.