2 People, 2 Stories, 1 New Beginning
One of Carol's daughters had sample wedding bulletins, invitations and such with the phrase, "2 people, 2 Stories, 1 new beginning" on them. That right there is a sermon in a sentence.
We have 2 people before us today who intend to live the rest of their lives as 1. When they light the unity candle shortly, they are going to blow out the candles that symbolize their individual lives. Each is saying they are ceasing to exist as 2, and will live as 1. Jesus Himself says that is what marriage is: "They are no longer 2 but 1." When Gary gets hurt Carol will wince. When Carol cries, Gary will shed tears. When 1 gets cut the other will bleed.
Think I am carrying this a bit far? I'm not even carrying it as far as Paul does in I Corinthians 7. There he says, "The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over her own body, but the wife does." There were 2 here before the marriage; now there is only 1, 1 new beginning.
What a bunch of poppycock! Maybe you don't know these 2 like I do. Let me tell you; we're not talking about 2 turtle doves making a nest together. We're talking about 2 eagles; they would do fine soaring together but living in the same nest? Please, get real. That's impossible. They each have hopes, dreams, plans, and wills. They can blow out 2 little candles just fine, but to blow out dreams, let go of hopes, give in on plans, and subdue wills that is impossible with a capitol I. That would take nothing short of a miracle.
Thankfully when we're talking about marriage we are in God's domain. He created marriage. He makes marriage, and I don't mean the institution. I mean He makes the 2 into 1 new beginning. While Gary and Carol most certainly say, "I will be 1 with you," God is the 1 who does it. Jesus says, "What God has joined together let not man put asunder." In other words, Carol and Gary can break the marriage but only God can make it.
Well, now isn't that a comforting thought. Is the well-being, the future of the nest at the mercy of 2 soaring eagles? No, it is as the mercy of God. The fact that you can break the nest is to drive you to the Lord "the Maker of heaven and earth." Where does your help and hope for your 1 new beginning come from? Not from you, your love, your will, or even your faith. Your help comes from the Lord, says the Psalmist, "the Maker of heaven and earth." Carol and Gary if the Lord can make heaven and earth, then He can certainly make your marriage. This Lord never slumbers or sleep but always stands guard against the devil, the world, and even your own sinful flesh that would destroy your marriage. You 2 can sleep in peace because your Lord never does.
We have 2 people here, but we have only 1 new beginning. What about their 2 stories? Yes, what about them? I have bad news there. Their stories aren't all good. There is sin in their 2 stories. You don't get to your mid-life years without a whole lot of sinning. And the sins of the past have long tentacles that reach into the present. In marriage what you have is not just 2 people becoming 1 but 2 sinners. You have, in fact, a concentration of sin. The 1 nest has a double share of sin. The 1 new beginning has the sins, wrongs, faults, and shortcomings of 2 trailing after it like cans on strings tied behind the cars of newlyweds. These cans make a bunch of noise.
But in Christian marriage God does more than just pack 2 sinners into 1 nest. It is more than an act of God's power. It is an act of God's grace. This is symbolized by the 1 candle that Gary and Carol will light before blowing out their individual candles. The 1 candle they light stands for Christ. In Christ, can anyone here find sin? Do not the Scriptures teach us that "There is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus." Do not the Scriptures tell us that in Christ Carol and Gary are new creations? Their marriage isn't just a new beginning, a new story; it is a new creation in Christ. It is not a multiplication of sin but a new site of forgiveness.
You know, you can't really "forgive yourself." You can't look in the mirror and say, "I forgive you." O you can say that, but it's like all the other things people say in the mirror: funny, and in some sense sad. When you speak to a mirror, you speak to and hear a reflection. Something that's not truly present. Apart this is all that Gary and Carol would have in a house. But not anymore. In their new home in Christ, built on His forgiving love, they can speak His forgiveness to each other. Yes, their 2 sinful stories have been forgiven, washed away by water and the Word. The forgiveness that's their's individually in Christ, they can now share with each other.
Gary and Carol as often as you say, "I love you," say, "I forgive you." Let not just the riches of God's love in Christ fill your home, let the riches of God's forgiveness in Christ fill it too. No sins of the past, no sins of the present, no sins of the future need stain your new beginning. Christ's forgiveness is as close to you as the lips of your loved 1.
Let this forgiving love of Christ be the bedrock of your marriage, the rock upon which your new nest is built. Let the forgiveness and love Christ has for each of you be the weight that stabilizes your marriage. Let your 1 new beginning be like those weighted toys which always land upon their base no matter how they fall. No matter what the question, no matter what the problem, not matter what the tension, no matter what the joy or hope let Christ, His forgiveness, His love be the base upon which you land. Amen.