This wedding homily from 2014 is based on Romans 5:1-8.
The world often seems to be a hopeless place. But as hard as hope is to come by, we cannot live without it. Hope is like oxygen for the soul. Without it, we suffocate. There is no greater pain than hopelessness; and yet with hope, we can endure even the most difficult pains and press on because we know the way things are is not the way they will always be. Hope means no matter how many twists and turns there are in the plot, the story will come to a happy ending. The verses we have read from Romans 5 express the truest hope of all, the ultimate hope, the hope of all hopes. Forest and Kara, you chose this passage because the hope described here is the hope that sustains you, that enfolds you, that fills you. You live in and through this hope. The hope described here is your hope. You have staked your life on this hope and today you promise to build your marriage upon this hope.
What is the hope described in Romans 5? In a word, it is Jesus. He is our hope because in him, we are justified – we’re made right with God and have peace with God. In him, we have access to God and in him we stand in grace. He is our hope because even as he suffered, so he is with us in our suffering, and uses our sufferings to produce his own character in us. He is our hope because he does not disappoint, for through him and his Holy Spirit the love of God has been poured into our hearts. He is our hope because he is the embodiment of God’s love. Indeed, while we were still sinners, he demonstrated God’s love for us by dying for us. He died for us in order to give us this hope, to become our hope.
The hope you have, Forest and Kara, is not a hope of this world, but it is a hope for this world. Romans 5 pictures the world as the masterpiece of God. The world was made good. The world was made glorious. But like an ancient castle that now lies in ruins, the world has fallen apart. The world has lost its glory. God made humans to live in fellowship with him and with each other, but we have turned away from that plan and gone our own way. That’s why Romans 5 calls us sinners. Jesus entered the world that hope might live again. He came in order that through his death and resurrection, the ruined castle might be rebuilt even better than it was before. He was determined to reclaim this wrecked and ruined world even though a cross stood in his way. That’s the hope of glory Romans 5 calls us to rejoice in, the glory of redeemed and reborn world. Forest and Kara, this is the hope you have; this is the hope that binds you together more deeply than anything else; this is the hope that will shape you future life together. This hope envelopes you, and abounds in you.
Some might ask: In a world as full of darkness and hopelessness as ours, why get married? Why go to the trouble and expense? Why tie yourself down to one person for the rest of your life? Why get married when marriage doesn’t seem to have worked out so well for so many? When a Christian man and woman come together in the covenant marriage, it is an act of defiance against the hopelessness that often surrounds us. It is affirmation that there is hope – not only hope for the newly married couple, but hope for the world. And that’s because a Christian marriage looks to the future – yes, certainly, the future of a long life together, the future of building a home together, the future of establishing a family culture and traditions together and of making memories together, the future of bringing children into the world and raising them up in truth and wisdom. But Christian marriage is especially hopeful because it looks beyond all of those things to the ultimate future, the ultimate wedding feast. See, the Bible starts with a wedding in the book of Genesis, when God brings together Adam and his wife. But it also ends with a wedding, with a wedding feast, when Jesus marries his bride, the church, in order to live with her happily ever after in a renewed world. Getting married is an act of hope because marriage isn’t just about the couple – it’s about something much greater. It’s really a clue to meaning of history, to the end of history, when the hope of glory becomes a reality, and we enter into a joy and a love that is beyond our wildest dreams, where there is no more tribulation but where love abounds. Forest and Kara, by getting married today you get to participate in a special way in symbolizing and portraying the marriage that is to come between Christ and his church. Forest and Kara, this is your hope, this is why you stand here today to pledge lifelong love and faithfulness to one another. It’s because you stand in this hope – not just that God will bless your marriage in the years and decades to come, but that God will bless you for all eternity through the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our hope – the hope that swallows up hopelessness and death, the hope that endures forever, the hope fills you with love and confidence, the hope of glory. Let us pray.
Almighty God, Father, with your Son, and the Holy Spirit: You are the God of love, the God of joy, the God of all comfort, the God who gives hope. From all eternity You have lived in perfect delight and love, and in Your sovereign freedom You created a world to share in that love. Though we rebelled and turned from You, You did not abandon us, but in Your love, You, Father, sent Your Son to take flesh, to die for us, and so to bring us into communion with You through Your Spirit, and to cause praise and glory and hope to spring up in the world and in our hearts. As Forest and Kara begin their marriage today, fill them with this hope and fill them with Your Spirit, that Your love might bind them to Yourself and to one another, until they breathe their last. We pray this for the glory and sake of Jesus Christ, our King and our Savior. Amen.