Mr. and Mrs. Paul Kloss

Homily at the renewal of my parents wedding vows on their 42nd anniversary. This year is their 45th. 

Ephesians 5:25-33 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

I have often told young couples entering marriage that they are not getting married for their comfort. This is always hard to for them to understand. In the first bloom of love – when two people are promising themselves to one another – that can seem a bit like a wet blanket.

Young couples have a hard time imagining that wedded bliss would be anything but happiness – they implicitly believe marriage guarantees fulfillment, unconditional love and the absence of conflict. Young men can’t wait to come home after a long day at the office to a perfectly clean house, where the little woman has dinner ready and piled high on the table. Young ladies can’t wait for the security, safety and protection their doting husbands will provide. Someone who finally understands them.

To try to tell the dewy eyed couple that marriage is meant to sanctify them in the most thorough and crushing and glorious way – is hard to pull off. Living 24/7 with someone who is going to know everything ugly, as well as, every beautiful thing about you – is a dangerous prospect.

To enter life with someone who, within a short time, will learn your deepest fears, the exact word to set you off, all the buttons and the proper combination of buttons, that turn you into a maniac. To have the highest hope for someone – who lets you down the most. To try to convince young couples that, like the path of our Lord, marriage is one of selflessness, sorrow, self-denial, humility, service and fellowship that leads to the highest vistas of glorious joy. That is a hard sell. Marriage was not created for comfort. But everything I am saying falls on hard ears in our day. Continue reading “Mr. and Mrs. Paul Kloss”

Disciples of the Bridegroom

Mark 1:16–20 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him. 

The men are busy with their own plans, their own lives, vocations and families. The men are occupied.

But they are called out of their plans. I think the wives in our midst might have a better understanding of this

Many of you ladies had aspirations, plans and lives before you met your husbands. Your husbands proposed that you follow them and that meant leaving your families, your occupations and plans to fulfill a high and holy calling to be your husband’s helpmate and the mother of his children.

Yes, I think you ladies might comprehend the radical nature and costliness of being called in this way, better than the men do.

Most men are not called out of their lives; their professions, families, etc. in quite the same way. It isn’t as holistic, and it is largely metaphorical. Most men do not consider their calling to leave everything to become a Christian in quite the same way as a lady is to become a wife.

A good wife is an example of the realities of discipleship. The radical alteration of self that comes with becoming a bride is something that we all need to consider more deeply when contemplating what Christian discipleship is all about.

A Christian’s response to Christ is to be humble, self-sacrificing, submissive and missional.

The call to be a wife reshapes her familial relationships, vocations, personal aspirations, etc.

But the focus is what the lady is becoming. Not what she was but what she is becoming; a bride.

That is what the beauty of a wedding day is all about. What the lady is becoming. The bone of His bone and the flesh of His flesh.

I think this is instructive for us. We are the bide of Christ and collectively it’s important to explore this metaphor to inform our understanding of the Christian life.

Jesus calls four men. Two sets of brothers. He is rebuilding a new family from an old family. Jesus is forming a new Israel out of the Old Israel. Jesus is calling individual men to become His eternal bride – the church.

And what does he call them to? V. 17 “And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

Jesus is calling them to follow Him and Jesus will remake them.

Again, the truly fascinating elements are what Mark leaves out. The response of the four men are non-verbal. They don’t say the sinner’s prayer. They make no formal, public, verbal declaration.

The men respond to Jesus’ call by action. They obey. They don’t talk; they act.

And the action is a response to Jesus’ declaration that he will remake them. What they will be, is the reason they act.

What Jesus is doing is the reason for their doing.

Discipleship is about what we are becoming. And what we are becoming is the reason for our doing.

Jesus is not interested in words, here. He is interested in obedience.

These four men form the inner circle, the nucleus of the Church, the new Israel, the bride of Christ.

And this betrothal is about fruitfulness. Jesus says He will make them fishers of men. They will cast nets and bring men from darkness to light, from Satan to God, from death to life.

They will bear fruit. They will produce. They will be fruitful and fill the earth as the faithful bride of the Lord Jesus.

I am not talking about the individual men. Applying the bride of Christ metaphor to individual Christians is creepy bad exegesis.

The bride of Christ, a feminine personage, is the collective, the assembly, the congregation. Here in v. 16-20, there is not one man, but four. The first assembly of the new congregation, the new people, the new Israel.

They leave their occupation and their father, just like a bride, to follow their head on His mission.

Their identity is not who they were as individuals when they were called. Their identity is not what they were doing when they were called. Their identity is not the family or worldly possessions they had when they were called. Their identity is found now in what they are becoming. What Christ is making them. Who they are in relation to Jesus.

Their identity is oriented toward the Head of the Church, the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus.

This is a radical departure from the concepts of discipleship we are often given. Most definitions of discipleship sound like something out of a comparative religion course.

But the uniqueness of the Christian Gospel is that Discipleship isn’t about what you are doing, but what you are becoming. Who you are in relation to Jesus. What He is doing is the cause of our doing. And our doing must be fruitful.

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is a high and holy calling. It is as radical an alteration as a single lady becoming a bride. Meditate on that.

The church is the bride of Christ who submits to Christ, whom He washes with the word, provides for, nurtures and protects.

Mr. and Mrs. Jason Richmond

Introduction

Today is a beautiful day, indeed a glorious day.

God has sanctioned this covenant, it is a union made in His name. Your promises to one another are bound up in His expectations and promises to each of concerning marriage.

Since His word is your rule of faith and practice, I want to briefly exhort you in three things.

You were created to complete one another to build a community that proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ.

First, you were created to complete one another

Genesis 2:18 “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (ESV)

Genesis 2:20–23 “But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, this at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

The union of Adam and Eve is a template for our marriages. Jason was created by God as an unfinished man. He can’t fulfill his calling without help.

Ellie, you are that help. You were made to fill up what he lacks.

 Jason, Ellie was made to complete you and by joining with you in marriage, she becomes whole herself by completing you.

Always look to her as your chief source of wisdom, confidence, assistance and comfort. Don’t try to go it alone. Let her profoundness delight and fulfill you.

Marriage is not unique. Thousands upon thousands are being joined together just today.

But what is absolutely unique. The miracle of marriage, is that of all the women in all the history of mankind, one woman was made to be the flesh of your flesh and the bone of your bone – Ellie.

Love her as you would love your own self.

You, Ellie, are the answer to a profound problem; it was not good that Jason was alone. It displeased God. So, He made you to fulfill Him. Let that be your calling and your glory. He can’t survive without your help. He is not a whole man without you.

Remember this. No matter what comes, no matter what disappointments befall you, no matter how providence may shake you and what sin might come between you.

Remember, that of every man and woman who ever lived on the earth, the two of you, together, complete one another. Continue reading “Mr. and Mrs. Jason Richmond”