Wedding sermon for Rod & Terri Strutz
A spirit of unity
Romans 15:5-6, 13 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In case you haven’t noticed, our nation is a little divided right now. Race relations, NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem, Senate confirmation hearings for the next Supreme Court justice, and basically anything having to do with President Trump.
Rod and Terri, your own house is divided. One of you is eternally optimistic, the other is a tad pessimistic. One of you is bubbly, the other one likes his beer. One of you roots for the Chicago Cubs, the other roots for losing teams.
What a blessing it is that we can leave politics and sports behind and focus on what is truly important – a spirit of unity as you follow Christ Jesus.
Satan loves division. He cherishes disagreement. He fosters displeasure. You see that in our nation. You witness that in our politics. You observe that in our homes. Satan loves to twist words, encourage pride, and nurture resentment between husbands and wives. A word spoken in haste is not repented of. Pride refuses to allow for repentance and humility. Quarrels become passionate. Coldness consumes the house in the heat and humidity. Husbands and wives begin to resent one another. They grow apart. Their unity is disrupted.
And Satan loves every moment of it!
Husbands being unloving to their wives. Wives being unwilling trust their husband’s leadership. Parents dealing with impatience with their children. How can we hope to stand before God in His heavenly home when we have been guilty of discord and division within our own homes?
Satan loves disunity! He relishes us growing farther away from each other! For when we grow apart from each other, usually that means we are growing further away from Christ Jesus!
How necessary it is, then, that we cultivate peace and unity among each other. St. Paul strove for this Christian unity when he wrote to the Romans, who had been divided between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians over food restrictions: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
What St. Paul wrote for a larger congregation of 400 souls like Epiphany, can also be applied to the smaller congregation of 2 souls in the new Strutz household. Jesus promises: Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I will them” (Matthew 18:20).
Christian unity always produces a blessing. God Himself works through the teaching of His Scriptures to produce this unity. What a blessing that God has already united the two of you in the same Lutheran faith. That unity of faith in doctrines, creeds, and confessions fosters unity in actions. “Unity” literally means “to think the same thing as each other.” Paul is asking the Lord God to give not just any kind of unity, not a unity based on a false hope or a false standard, but a unity that agrees with Christ Jesus and everything He says and stands for. A unity in agreement with Christ Jesus is a rock-solid unity, and differences of opinion or diversity of doing things cannot damage such a unity.
Rod and Terri, I know that it is hard to see it in each other because you’re so captivated by your love for each other, but the two of you are sinners. With one sinner, there is disunity between a holy God and a miserable sinner. Now, when you unite two sinners together into the same home, there will be even more disunity.
That’s probably not what you wanted to hear just before you made your wedding vows this afternoon.
The bad news is that you will never find true unity as sinners. Try as hard as you might with flowers, vacations, purchasing of a new home or moving the wedding date so someone can hold his fantasy football draft, you cannot be united. Sin always and only creates disunity.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that you have a Savior that is without sin. He is the One who entered a world of sin to place all sin upon Himself. He is the One who took the sins of the two of you, and all of us, and placed all of that sin upon Himself. He paid the price for humanity’s sins upon the cross. By paying that penalty, He reestablished unity between God and us.
The unity you desire for your marriage is built upon Jesus Christ. In perfect unity with the Father and the Spirit, from eternity, it was determined that the Son would enter our new world which had been plunged into division, disunity and discord. He is the Christ, the One anointed and set apart to obediently accomplish the Father’s will. He is the Savior, the One who removes the curse of sin’s condemnation. He is the Redeemer, the One who pays the price to secure freedom from Satan’s dominion. He is the Good Shepherd, the One who knows His sheep and brings them together into His sheepfold. He is the Victor, who subdues our enemies, so we don’t need to fear governments, economies, or persecutions. He is the Intercessor, who reconciles us sinners with our holy God.
We need an obedient Christ because of our lack of obedience. We need a powerful Savior because we are powerless. We need a faithful Redeemer because we are spiritually bankrupt. We need a loving Shepherd because we like to get lost and stray. We need an almighty Lord because we are weak and burdened. We need a calm Unifier because we are broken and fragmented.
We are united in Christ. Because it is through His sacrifice and resurrection, His Scriptures and Sacraments, and His working with the Holy Spirit, He creates unity between God and man, then unity between brothers and sisters in Christ, and then unity between husband and wife.
St. Paul prays for hope to bless your Christian unity: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The biblical word for “hope” is much different from our English understanding of hope. When planning your wedding, you may have thought, “Let’s hope for good weather so we can have the wedding outside.” You might hope that your students behave in your classrooms. You might hope that medical tests results come back favorable.
We hope for the best, but there is no guarantee.
How different is the Holy Spirit’s way of using the word “hope” in the Bible. There is no uncertainty in what St. Paul is saying here. There is a firm confidence in God and His wonderful blessings fulfilled in Christ. We might paraphrase this verse: “May the God who gives certainty fill you with joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with sure confidence worked by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
God has given you the certainty of salvation through His Son. Do you see how that fills you with joy and peace? Even when the test results aren’t so good. Even when disagreements arise in the home. Even when your Chicago teams continue to lose. None of that ultimately matters because you still have joy and peace in Christ Jesus. Through the faith implanted in you through the Holy Spirit through Baptism, through God’s Word, and through the weekly reception of the Lord’s Supper, you overflow with confidence.
Rod and Terri, today God is establishing a new congregation in Racine at 2815 Sandpiper Lane. It is St. Strutz Lutheran Church. It is a small congregation – as small as it can be. But it is a congregation that is blessed with unity. The unity of husband and wife. The unity between Jesus Christ the Bridegroom and the two of you as His beautiful Bride. The unity that exists between your family congregation and all the family congregations to come together for worship and the Sacraments at our much larger Epiphany Lutheran Church.
This unity is found only in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ who came for lost souls. Jesus Christ who bled and died for sinful souls. Jesus Christ who washes and feeds these souls with His Sacraments. Jesus Christ who grants endurance and encouragement to our souls through the Scriptures. Jesus Christ who grants a spirit of unity among all of us as we follow Him. This unity is expressed in our Sunday worship, in our family worship, and in the blessing of marriage today. In this unity, we stand together, pray together, sing together, praise together, confess together, commune together and walk together. You do that now as husband and wife. You do that with your children and family. You do that with your family of believers at Epiphany and in the WELS.
Rod and Terri, today and for the rest of your lives, with one heart and mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
And, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.