Marriage of Philip Koch and Paula Graumann
June 30, 2012
“A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Little did I know a couple years ago that this kind and gentle young lady who spoke with me after class about heading out a day early for break, that she would be the one whom my son would be leaving for. “A man shall leave his father and his mother.” We already had a little taste of that, Philip, when you were out here working last summer and asked Paula to marry you not too far from this place. We’re glad, Paula, that you’re the one he’s leaving home for, and we all have great happiness in your being united as husband and wife today.
But why is it that the Scriptures only talk about the man leaving his father and mother? Doesn’t the bride also leave father and mother, too? This could have something to do with how brides often maintain a little closer connection and contact with Mom and Dad than the groom does. But the real reason why God’s Word only refers to the man leaving has to do with this: marriage is created by God as a picture of something greater, as you know. Marriage is a temporary institution that ends on the Last Day. But it reflects an eternal reality, the union of Christ and His holy Lady, the church.
So here’s where those words ultimately point us: Jesus, the Son of God, left His Father in heaven to be joined to His wife, His chosen people. In order to save us who had fallen into sin and death, He literally joined Himself to our flesh and blood and became man. “A man shall leave His father and mother.” Jesus even had to leave His mother Mary behind for a time on the cross. Jesus is the second Adam, who was put into the deep sleep of death for us on the sixth day, Good Friday. As the first Adam brought death into the world through sin, so Jesus brought life into the world by dying our death for us, taking away our sin and conquering the grave Easter morning. In the same way that Eve was created from Adam’s side, the Church is created from Christ’s pierced side, from the water and blood that flowed, the living water of Baptism which makes us members of His body, the blood of Christ poured out in the chalice of the Lord’s Supper, by which we are cleansed of all sin. Through these Sacraments, the Church is Jesus’ radiant bride, dressed in the beautiful white garment of His righteousness.
Philip and Paula, that eternal reality is what God has given to form the heart of your marriage. In leaving your father and mother, Philip, you are doing as Christ did, that you may give of yourself and lay down your life for your bride. In receiving him as your husband, Paula, you are a picture of the Church, who honors her groom and submits to Him and His love and returns that love with a glad heart. Philip, you die for her. Paula, you live for him.
Now, of course, neither of you are going to do this even close to perfectly. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be those words in your vows, “until death do us part.” Only sinners die. In small ways death creeps into marriage even before we die–in little fights and unkind words or silence, in stubbornly trying to get your own way when the other person isn’t living up to what you thought your spouse would be. It is tremendously important, then, especially in those times, to hold fast to the love of your heavenly Groom, Jesus. His forgiveness and grace in marriage gives you new life and a new start each day with each other. Love and forgive each other in Him. As you receive mercy from Lord in divine service, as you show mercy and forgiveness to each other–in that way above all, you will reflect Christ and the church as husband and wife.
Now before I conclude, marriage sermons are expected to offer a little advice it seems, so let me pass along something I heard from a fellow pastor, which is a good insight: He said, you really only need two pieces of furniture to have a good marriage–a table and a bed. You don’t need a TV or a recliner or any other stuff, though they may be nice. What you truly need are a place to eat together and a place to sleep together. For those are the places of communion in a marriage, where the liturgy of marriage goes on, where husband and wife commune and share of themselves with each other.
So it’s a good idea to ask yourselves these two questions from time to time: Are you eating together each day (without the TV on or computers or cell phones)? And do you go to bed at the same time? Those two things can be too easily neglected, and can be the beginning of troubles–no marital communion and sharing. So tend to those things. Eat together. (Which is a good time to have devotions together, by the way.) And sleep together. (You’ve got permission to do that as of today.) The best marriage talk is table talk and pillow talk. Guard your bed and your table. Don’t let anything interfere.
Philip and Paula, you’ve got no idea what you’re getting yourself into today. It’s true. (Ask the married folk here.) You can’t really know until you actually make the vows. So what you’re promising today is, despite the unknowns, you’re going to stick with it no matter what. And you’ll do that not because you’ll always have overwhelming romantic feelings, but because God Himself has joined you together, and because Christ, the true Man sticks with His chosen Lady, the Church and never gives up on her. He’ll never give up on you.
In the end that’s the most important thing. The most important day of your life is not today, as important and special as it is. The most important day of your life is the day you were baptized into Christ, joined to the holy death that He died in your place and raised up with Him to be children of God. Always look at each other in that way. The person you are standing next to, whom you are about to commit yourself to, is a person for whom Christ died. See each other as God sees you, through the cross of Christ, one who is forgiven, one who is a beloved child of God. He is everything for you, and you are everything to Him.
A man shall leave his father and mother–and son, that’s a good thing and the way God planned it–but just remember that you’re always welcome to come back home, with the wife God has graciously given you, to bring some smiles and laughs as you always do, and perhaps eventually some grandkids, too. This is the beginning of a new life for you, and we’re pulling for you and praying for you, and soon we’ll raise a toast of Cana wine to you. You are God’s good gifts to each other. May the Lord richly bless you in your married life and the new home you are establishing in His name. Amen.