Saturday, November 21, 2009
Sermon for the Wedding of Jimmy Neel and Luetta Smith (November 21, 2009)
“Making Beautiful Music Together” (Col. 3:12-17)
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:12-17)
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, especially to you, Jimmy and Luetta, as we join together on this joyful occasion. Amen.
There's an old song called “We Could Make Such Beautiful Music Together.” Some guys have probably used that as a pickup line. Jimmy, you don't seem like the kind of guy that would use a pickup line. But it is certainly true that music brought you and Luetta together.
And it's also true that marriage is a lot like a variety of instruments playing together to make beautiful music. Let's take a typical Western Swing band, for example, since that's what you both love so much. You've got six-string guitars, dobros, bass guitars, fiddles, banjos, and drums. Each of them look different. Each of them sounds different. Sometimes certain instruments might play the melody in unison. Others will play along in harmony. They all combine to play the right notes at just the right time to make beautiful music together.
Marriage is a lot like that. Husbands and wives should have similar goals as a couple, and that's like instruments as they play in unison, playing the same notes. But you are two unique individuals, too. You may have different interests, different emotional needs, different ideas about how certain things should be done. That's like the different notes that instruments play. The notes are quite different. But they all fit together quite well to make a harmonious, pleasant sound.
Disharmony occurs when the instruments don't work together. The drums begin to play loudly when they should be in the background, keeping a nice, solid beat. The guitars begin to pick and strum so loudly that you can't hear the vocalist's lyrics. All the musicians begin to play whatever they feel like. They disregard the other musicians. They fail to follow the written guide that is on the stands in front of them, the musical score that they are supposed to follow. The beautiful music they were supposed to be making turns ugly and chaotic.
Likewise, a marriage can turn ugly and chaotic when each partner tries to outshine the other. Tension grows when one partner does whatever they feel like wihtout regard for the other. And like a musical score which a band ought to follow, we have a “written guide” called the Bible in which God gives us some instruction about how husbands and wives are to relate to one another. In the Bible, the relationship that Jesus has to his Church is described as a marriage. He is the Bridegroom. The Church, which is all baptized believers in Jesus as Savior, is the Bride. He tells wives to “submit to their husbands as the Church submits to Christ.” He tells husbands to “love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her.” In others words, husbands are to love their wives sacrificially, unconditionally, just as Jesus loved us when he died for our sins at the cross. As husbands love and serve their wives in such a Christ-like way, then wives will love their hubands and acknowledge them as the spiritual head of their marriage and family. The trouble is, because we are sinners, we have a hard time doing this. Our sinful, selfish natures become evident in our marriages, and we no longer make beautiful music together.
And so daily, we need to repent of our failures in our marriages. And then we get to hear some beautiful music that God made for us. That beautiful music is called the “Gospel,” the Good News that Jesus also died for the sins of the world, including the ones that we have committed in our marriages. Forgiven, we can once again look to the relationship that Jesus has with his Church as a model for our marriages. We can begin again to make beautiful music together as a Christian couple. What are some of the notes we are to play? St. Paul mentions some of them in today's reading from Colossians 3: “compassionate hearts” … “kindness” … “humility” … “meekness” … “patience” … “bearing with one another” … “forgiving each other” just as the Lord has forgiven us. And then, Paul adds the most important note, “love,” which, as he says, “binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Now, Paul isn't only talking here about marriages, although his words certainly apply to marriages. He's talking about our relationships with all fellow believers in Jesus. Having said that, it's important to remember that Christian couples need to continue to hear God's beautiful music together with their fellow believers. Paul goes on in our text, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” In Holy Baptism, you were made to be a part of the Body of Christ. So don't sever yourself from that body. Come to church. The beautiful music of the Gospel we sing to each other here in “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” Here in the Divine Service you will receive strength for your faith and for your life together as husband and wife. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Come often to eat and drink the body and blood of your Savior in the Lord's Supper. As you do so, our gracious Savior, Jesus the Bridegroom of the Church, will be with you so that you can love each other and forgive each other and support one another in your marriage. Now that's some beautiful music.