A Wedding Sermon

 

on John 2:1-11 by John W. Berg

 

 

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

This day has been eagerly anticipated, long awaited, well planned. Yes, planned down to the minutest, I mean, minutest detail. Finally, with all the plans coming to fulfillment, with all the invited guests assembled, with all the promises made and with the bride beautifully dressed for her husband, at this moment, which has been foreordained in eternity, all that remains is for the bridegroom to claim his bride and to lavishly provide for her for life. Yes, the celebration has just begun.

 

And what a huge disappointment in this groom! For this poor, hapless, lad failed to provide enough wine for the wedding feast. For, is it not the bridegroom’s responsibility to provide for his bride, for his guests? But this poor, hapless lad goofed up, did not provide enough wine for the feast. For, what is a feast without wine? I’ll tell you, no feast, for wine brings gladness to salve the weariness of life. In Cana, as in California, no wine, no feast.

 

But our fears are unfounded for the Bridegroom has not failed his Bride, his invited guests, for our Lord Jesus has come to the wedding feast. It is the Bridegroom, our Lord Jesus, who has come to claim and provide for his Bride.

 

Our God is not arbitrary. It was not by dumb luck that this family invited Jesus to this wedding. It was not a mere unfortunate miscalculation of the number of guests and their enjoyment of the fruit of the vine, this heavenly drink from the grape, which finds its proper “God ordained destiny” in giving itself, its life, its lifeblood for this purpose.

 

For this moment was foreordained, the promise made in eternity. The promise was spoken in the garden to a groom who failed his bride, a groom who sat idly by, who forsook his responsibility to protect and provide for his wife, flesh of his flesh, a pastor who took the path of least resistance, and to a bride who failed to understand her role, who claimed for herself the pastorate and “preached a very bad sermon.” So, the promise was made, the arrangements set in place, planned down to the minutest detail. The Bridegroom, the Son of the Father, conceived by the Spirit, would be born of a virgin, the seed of a woman, his birth in the city of Bethlehem, “House of Bread” for he would be the Bread of Life, to bring nourishment and life to his Bride, yes, as the Old Testament evangelist Isaiah said,

 

For your Maker is your husband,

   the LORD Almighty is his name--

the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;

   he is called the God of all the earth.

 

And now the Bridegroom comes to claim his Bride. And so it is foreordained that he should come and perform his first sign at a wedding. And so it is foreordained that the one who would multiply bread in his hands to sustain life, would grace this feast with wine, the finest of wines, to bring joy for life. Yes, this Bridegroom, Husband and Maker, who in six days created all there is, took six stone water jars to create by the same power, his Spirit filled word hovering over the water, this divine and lovely drink.

 

The Bridegroom would come to claim his Bride, for this Bride, like the one in the garden, needed this Bridegroom to come, this Bride needed to be sanctified, to be made holy. And being made holy only comes through blood and water, and so this Bridegroom would claim his Bride by taking from her all that she had done wrong, all her sins, all her adulteries, her sin and death into himself and give his life for her. For this Bridegroom crushed the skull of the serpent by his own bloody body, by his own death at the place of the skull, as should have the first bridegroom.

 

As the first bridegroom, Adam, gave life to his bride from his side, so this divine and heavenly Bridegroom gives life to his Bride from his side, from blood and water, from the blood and water which flowed from his side, which flowed from his death and flows to give life. In the Holy Font of baptism, we, his church, his bride are given life in this water, where we are washed with his blood and baptized into his death, into his burial and into his life, which he poured into his Baptism and so into ours; into the font where we are brought to life and brought to the wedding feast covered in the wedding gown put on us in Baptism, to the feast where bread and wine from his hand and Word become for us His body and blood, which come into our body in this holy union and we become flesh of his flesh, one body with Christ, our head.

 

So you who have married today are living icons, images of Christ, the Bridegroom and his Bride, the Holy Church, dressed in white. You, who claimed your bride, are Christ to this woman, and you shall give your life for her and to her. And you, dear bride, who have been claimed by this bridegroom, shall be Holy Church to him who loves and gives himself to you and you shall give him your love and submission, as the church to Christ. Yes, you two shall image Christ and his church to all who know you. 

 

Yet in ourselves we are poor icons who fail. But you, dear bridegroom, who shall be a poor icon of Christ, need not go a football stadium to make another promise you will not keep, or to sit around a campfire with a group of weeping and whooping men and beat a drum or your chest, but you shall come to the altar and beat your breast and sing, “Lamb of God, have mercy” and receive mercy in the body and blood of Christ, who is your only strength, your righteousness and sanctification.

 

And you, dear bride, who shall be a poor icon of the Holy Church, need not read a book to explain that men are from Mars and women from Venus. And though we all love her, you need not turn to Oprah for advice on how to treat or twist your man, but you, too, shall follow your bridegroom to the altar of the Heavenly Bridegroom, to receive mercy in his body and blood who is your only strength, your righteousness and sanctification.

 

So the Bridegroom has claimed his Bride and we shall celebrate, we shall feast, the wedding feast of the Lamb, this feast which is a foretaste of the heavenly wedding banquet, as Christ, the Bridegroom gives to us, his Holy Bride, this day to eat and to drink his body and blood in this bread and wine. Yes, the icon bridegroom has claimed his icon bride and we shall celebrate, feast and drink wine with them, a pale image of the heavenly feast we shall attend clothed in the white wedding gown put on us in our Holy Baptism…

 

in the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  §

 

 

The Reverend Fr. John W. Berg is pastor of Hope Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Fremont, California and served credibly as the hapless father of the bride and gratefully as the Father of the couple at the mass at which this homily was given. Per the “Luther” rite, the vows were exchanged at the start of the mass.