The month of June for some reason reminds me of the Stevie Wonder song, "I Just Called to Say I Love You." For those not familiar with the tune, here are the first two stanzas:
No New Year's Day to celebrate,
No chocolate covered candy hearts to give away
No first of spring, No song to sing,
In fact here's just another ordinary day
No April rain, No flowers bloom,
No wedding Saturday within the month of June
But what it is, is something true,
Made up of these three words that I must say to you
I just called to say I love you
I think it has something to do with the line, “No wedding Saturday within the month of June.” June is often called the wedding month, probably because it’s finally warm and beautiful out, and there is more free time to be had. If you’re lucky, maybe you may have a June anniversary. So this June article, I’m going to talk a bit on marriage, but even if you’re not married, listen closely…The following are sermon excerpts from one of my best friend’s wedding:
There are some who would describe marriage as “getting hitched” or “tying the knot.” A previous generation called it “jumping the broom.” But in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 5, St. Paul calls it a “mystery.” In the Greek of the New Testament, that’s musterion. In Latin, that’s ‘sacramentum.’ Sure has a different ring to it than “getting hitched,” doesn’t it. In fact, musterion and sacramentum are the words that the New Testament uses when it talks about Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
You want to be careful not to confuse a ‘mystery’ with a ‘secret.’ They’re two different things. A ‘secret’ lasts only as long as you don’t know it. Once you know the secret, it’s over. It’s not a secret anymore. But a ‘mystery’ is something that continues, even after you know the mystery. In fact, the more you know it, the more you experience it, the greater it becomes. There’s always more to a ‘mystery.’ No matter how deeply into it you get, it always goes deeper.
Paul says that marriage is a ‘mystery.’ A mystery has lots of levels to it. On one level, it’s all about the two people and just the two. And maybe that’s all newlyweds think about, which is okay. But, you’ll see that there’s another level to marriage that is about family. In marriage you get another mother and father and new sisters and brothers and relatives and who knows what the future holds. On another level it’s really all about society and the role that the marriage in general and yours in particular plays in maintaining a stable and orderly society.
Paul says that marriage is a “mystery.” And as ‘mysterious’ as all of this sounds so far, we haven’t even begun to touch on the level of the ‘mystery’ that St. Paul is talking about. Paul says that marriage is not just a ‘mystery,’ he says that marriage is a ‘profound mystery.’ In the Greek, that’s a mega musterion. Not even Holy Baptism or Holy Communion is called that. Marriage is ‘mystery’ on top of ‘profound mystery.’
To get a grasp of the level of mystery that Paul is talking about, you’ve got to go back to the beginning. In the beginning, God made a man. Not ‘man’ in general but a specific man, a male man. Not the kind that delivers letters but the kind that is of the male gender.
God put the man in the Garden of Eden and He gave him ‘dominion over it.’ That’s a fancy bible word that doesn’t mean that God gave the man permission to boss it around and bring him a beer and his slippers. It means that the man was given the responsibility of taking care of what God had entrusted to his care. “Dominion” is a word that is packed with a lot of responsibility and servant hood.
When God saw the man trying to do what he was charged with doing all by himself, God said, “it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper fit for him.” And so God made a helper for Adam. And here’s how He did it. He put the man whom He named Adam, into a deep sleep and opened his side and with what came out of the man’s side, He made a woman. Not women in general, but a specific woman of the female gender. And the Lord God brought the woman to the man and Adam immediately recognized himself in her, and said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” And just as he had given names to all of animals in the garden, Adam gave a name to his new wife. In fact, he gave her his name. “She shall be called ‘ishah’ (woman) because she was taken from “ish” (man).
Now, what God saw was “not good,” God sees along with all that He made and says, “It is very good.” To which Moses rightly concludes, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be ( united to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” continued on page 5)
What that means is that marriage is rooted in the very creation of the world. Talk about a ‘deep mystery.’
But we still haven’t gotten to the ‘profound mystery’ that Paul is talking about. But now we’re ready for it so here it is. The Lord God took the Man, not the 1st Adam, but the 2nd Adam. And He put the Man into a deep, three-day sleep. And He opened the Man’s side with a Roman spear. And from the water and the blood that came from the Man’s side, He made a bride for the Man. And He brought her to the Man and the Man said, “I am bone of her bones and flesh of her flesh. And she is holy of my holiness and righteous of my righteousness and the love of my life.”
And the Man gave her His name. “She shall be called Christian because she was taken from Christ.”
This is the ‘profound mystery’ that you have entered into already through Holy Baptism. In your Baptism, you became the ‘bride of Christ.’ You became “one flesh” with your Lord and Savior. And Jesus Christ became your husband. And your husband, who was given dominion over you, in perfect obedience to His calling, in lowly servanthood, took care of all that God the Father entrusted to His care, to the point of laying down His life for His bride. And His bride does what any bride would do when loved like this. She honors and worships her husband and lives to glorify Him. Some of you have already entered into this level of the ‘profound mystery’ along with all who have been baptized.
“Husbands, love your wives.” Not the way that you think that you should love your wife or according to the example on TV, but “as Christ loves His church and gave Himself up for her.”
A pretty good summary of the way Christ loves His church goes like this; He nourishes and cherishes her as His own body. He loves her, honors her and keeps her, in sickness and in health, even in her sin; for better and for worse, for richer or for poorer until death parts them. For her sake, He has laid down His life for her and by His resurrection from the dead, even her death will never part them.
Men, this is what you are committing to here. “Love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Be a real husband to your wives because they need that from you.
So Men, let me ask you, will you love your wife as Christ loves the Church and give yourself up for her? Good. Then you will certainly be willing to do the dishes or the laundry or, if God so wills it, change a diaper. All great love is crucified love after the pattern of our crucified Lord. Just as Christ loved His own by washing their feet, you do the same with your wives. Forgive her all her sins against you and bring her to hear God’s Word and receive Christ’s body and blood, “so that you may present her to Christ as a radiant bride, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
Women, let me ask you. If your man loves you like this, will you submit to him? Good. You be a real wife to him. He needs that from you. “Submit to your husband as to the Lord.” He needs real communion with you. He needs a wife. It is not good for him to be alone and sad to say, he can be just as alone in marriage as he can be alone apart from marriage. If he is going to be your head, then you be his body, united and joined to him as one. Honor him, strive to please him, make it your goal in life to bring out the best in him. The stronger and the happier you make him, the easier time he’ll have laying down his life in love for you. He won’t be the perfect husband just as you won’t be the perfect wife. So you forgive him all of his sins and bear with his faults as Christ forgives you and bears with you.
Be real husbands and wives to each other. Give us a real marriage. We all need that from you.
This is the ‘profound mystery’ that some of you have entered into and that some of you will enter into. Whether you’re married or not, you are joined with your husband, Christ. It’s a mystery that never ends until one of you dies. And even then, as we’ve said, it enters into an even deeper level. The excitement that you feel – that will end. The romance will fade, that’s okay. But the ‘profound mystery’ isn’t based on excitement, romance, or ‘marital bliss,’ whatever that is. It’s based on the love and faithfulness of your husband, Jesus Christ. And that will never end.
It doesn’t have to be a weeding Saturday in June to know that every day, Christ calls to say, “I love YOU.”
Submitted in love in the eternal love of Christ our Savior, †Pastor Aaron Boerst