Words Said at the Wedding of Lovers, Matt Shaw and Lana Felten, on September 13, 2003 at the Living Gospel Church, Lake Odessa, Michigan
Given that afternoon by Mike McDuffee sometime after 4:30 p.m.
Matt, Lana, I have written down what I have to share with you for a number of reasons. As you know, I have never done this before. I would not want my lack of experience to keep me from saying what should be said on this solemn day of your wedding. That which is solemn by its very nature is serious. This day you stand before God to take one another as husband and wife. That is a deeply earnest affair. It should arouse feelings of awe in all of us assembled here today. Such a solemn ceremony could easily make me nervous enough to forget what I should say. Important things ought not be forgotten on such occasions. To prevent this from happening I have written the thoughts the Lord has allowed be formed by way of reflecting upon the Scriptures in preparation for this day. I expect you two might be a bit nervous too. That is a good thing. But it is hard to hear well when we are a little nervous. I will leave these remarks with you trusting the Lord will bless your later reading them together.
Of course there are other reasons why you are not able to listen carefully to what is said today. Your sense of timing conspires against your being able to do so. You hear the new rhythm of your hearts beating together. This new sound like a loud drum in your ears draws away your attention. You aim to take this special day in deliberately, savoring every moment of it, determined to fill its passing in being absorbed with one another before the Lord. Though you do not mean it to happen, this leaves little time in your thoughts for the rest of us. This does not upset us assembled here. We have come to witness, to pronounce and to celebrate your pledging of one another to become husband and wife in the name of Christ. We judge it is most fitting for such a striking groom and radiant bride to work so single-mindedly to change the fleeting moments of the present into an enduring memory, which you will carry together for years to come.
As you set about doing this, at the very same time you also want this day to be over all at once. You are rushing ahead in your thoughts to its close when you will begin your lives together as husband and wife. This too is good. But being so busy, how could you possibly hear all that will be said this day? Beyond these things, everything you hear will not immediately resonate with where you are today. “Yes,” you might say, “Those things are true, but they do not relate to us.” This is true. In the warmth and the glow and the joy that you now share with your hearts and hopes so freshly and fully intertwined, you do not need to hear these things. Trust in the Lord’s timing to consider them later. May all that He desires about these matters come to mind when they should, so you may continually grow before Him together for His glory and pleasure.
Lana, Matt, Jesus calls the two of you to become one flesh. Your oneness of flesh becomes your new identity in Christ. You must live to please one another. From out of this priority of calling will grow your ministry, your testimony and your legacy. This is God’s design; this is God’s desire for you as husband and wife. Rejoice in His wish and fulfill it with thanksgiving. Each of you is His gift to the other. Receive each other accordingly. “One flesh” speaks of your intimate union. Give honor to your marriage, remain faithful to one another. Know God will surely judge the immoral and those who commit adultery (Hebrews 13:4). Cast each other in the secure light of loyalty and always seek to see one another only in that welcoming light.
Beyond this, “one flesh” means the new ties, the new bonds of friendship and family you two bring into being by your becoming this day husband and wife (Genesis 2:23; 29:14; 2 Samuel 5:1). Your setting out to build a home together will give life to these new relations and offer them a place to prosper. Heed His call to be good stewards of these relations, which He has set aside for you by name. As husband and wife rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Care for those with whom the Lord surrounds you; remain open to the entertaining of angels by being hospitable to strangers. Treat all whom you invite in your home with warmth and affection, realizing you do so best by remaining most affectionate with one another. Above all, offer up prayers in behalf of these dear people, confident that the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.
Witnesses assembled here today will undoubtedly be woven into the wreath of lives that will ring your home. I ask those present to know this about Lana and Matt. They live among you before the Lord as His own possession. They will take you by name with them in prayer when they go boldly before the throne of our gracious God. There they will trust to receive mercy and find grace to help us in our times of need. See them as they truly are. They are Christians. They are children of the King. Respect them as such; know their King watches over them. If you do not know Him and want to, you can speak to Him now in the silent voice of your heart that only He understands. The Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated God’s own righteousness and His undivided love for each of us by dying on the cross for our sins. Jesus was handed over to die because of our sins. He was raised from the dead to make us right with God. He invites each of us to be honest with ourselves and to be reconciled with Him. Jesus assures us, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.” Speak to him in the language of trust. Cry out in your heart, “Help the helpless Lord. Be merciful with me a sinner. I come to you to receive what only you can give. Forgive me of my sins Lord, free me to live for you, and let me be with you forever.” Be confident that whoever believes in Him for these things will not be disappointed, for anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Lana, Matt, the Spirit inspired Matthew to record the Lord’s teaching on marital commitment directly after His teaching on forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35). In the Gospel according to Mark our Lord prefaces His teaching about marriage by a warning not to cause little ones who believe to stumble. He follows it by insisting the children be brought to Him to be blessed (Mark 9:42 through 10:16). Fashion the golden purity of your marriage in the setting of such supportive silver beauty. Look into one another’s eyes (Go ahead!) Realize that through the one upon whom you now gaze the Lord will teach you some of His most difficult lessons about what it means to become more like Jesus. What a wonderful way to learn to love, by becoming more like the author of love in our love for one another. But do not be deceived; marriage magnifies the effects of our selfishness and silliness. It is a law of life in this world that the more intimate the relationship, the deeper is the cut made by the slightest misunderstanding or littlest offense. You have such power over one another! Be merciful! Resist becoming hardheaded or half-hearted. Adorn your faults with godly repentance. Embrace the shortcomings of your life partner; bear one another, forgiving each other just as the Lord forgave you. Don’t hold your love for one another hostage to a grudge, or to a point in an argument, or to a right you demand, or to a pleasure you expect or to a thing you want. Prepare your home for the arrival of little ones. Prepare for the day when you will give each other the titles ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’ for the sake of your children. From this day forward treat one another the finest way you know how so that your example of love will help little children honor their parents that it may be well with them, and that they may live long on the earth.
Matt, as head of the household, you should take this truth to heart. Honor Lana. Hold her most dear in your heart. Seek to discover daily a different facet of her precious value to you and your steadfast love for her. She is uniquely made in the image of God. She is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life in Christ. God has gifted her that His generosity might flow through her. Help her to serve Him, as she should with all the strength and energy that God supplies. She is an individual part of His masterpiece work, the church, which will be on display for all eternity for His glory. Help her to do the good that her Lord has prepared before hand that she might do these things for Him. Resolve in your heart to live through all the seasons of this lifetime to sound the depths of your true love’s wonders and worth. I remind you now, if you do not treat her as you should, your prayers will be impeded. Let me remind you what Chicago mayor Richard Daily did to Meigs Field. He sent bulldozers in the middle of the night to tear up the runways, gouging out large strips of asphalt to ruin the purpose for which they were constructed. It is impossible for an airplane to either land or take off from Meigs field. Matt, that is what will happen to your prayers should you fail to honor Lana as she deserves and the Lord demands. Your prayers will no longer serve their purpose, you will be held back from following the truth. Do not let this happen, bestow honor on your wife.
Lana, submit to Matt as to the Lord. Do this to teach the Church to submit to Christ. Do this to remind Matt by way of your godly life to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel. Allow him to behold you with the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so delightful to God. Submit to Matt to showcase your trust in the Lord. Do this, which is right, without fear. Live to be commended like Sarah, who considered Him faithful who promised, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” Matt, realize Lana submits to you confessing, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.” Love her Matt, lover her as you love your own body, that you two may continually grow closer together in the Lord.
There is a German saying, “Everything has an end except a bratwurst, for it has two.” This is not true. Love has no end. May your marriage be a picture in God’s book of mighty deeds that illustrates the never-ending story of Christ’s love for His church. As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” Live together as one to learn what is pleasing to the Lord, and allow His love to live through you in your doing this. Lana, see to it that you respect Matt as to the Lord. Matt, nourish and cherish Lana, just as Christ also does His church.
O Lord, the years of our life are few, their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Teach us Lord to number our days that we may acquire a heart of wisdom. Matt make it your mark in life and in your marriage to become one of the older men in the church, to be a man who is sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. And even as you become these things, might you remain intoxicated with the wife of your youth. Lana, make it your mark in life and in your marriage to grow to become one of the older women in the church who are reverent in behavior, teaching what is good, and so training the young women to love their husbands and children. Live wisely and be pure. Take care of your home; be kind and submissive to Matt that the word of God may not be reviled. I charge the both of you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the grace of God do your part in the building up the Body of Christ, the church of the living God, which is the pillar and support of the truth until we all attain to the unity of the faith united in our knowledge of the Son of God, knowing that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. May God keep you from turning aside from this charge. As husband and wife may your greatest joy in life always remain meeting it together. Amen.