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Holy Matrimony - Grace & Dagley

D. G. Phillips

St. John's West Dublin – September 5 AD 2009

Rom 12:1-2,9-13          St. Matthew 19:4-6

 

What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

 

Michael and Amanda, you might wonder what wisdom, what insight, a priest who has never been married might have to offer to you or to this congregation, some of you who have been married many years.

 

Well, the reality is that every one who has been baptized into Christ and believes has been mystically united with Christ in what has been termed in the Tradition as a spiritual marriage – we dwell in Christ and he dwells in us.  Christ marries the Church.  God marries our soul.  And so, I know something about marriage already and so do each of you.

 

And if you continually remember this, you will know both what earthly marriage is about and what it should look like.

 

You know what an icon is in the Orthodox tradition – a painting of Christ or of one of the saints.  And when people look on them they are led to think on the one who is imaged.  Earthly marriage is supposed to be a kind of “icon”.  Together, you are to become a living picture on earth of that Divine-human marriage – so that all who look upon the two of you can learn something of that Divine-human marriage from observing your relationship.

 

So if you are ever wondering about how to act towards or to respond to your spouse, you simply recall how our Lord acts and responds towards you. 

 

Remember the voice of Christ’s Spirit dwelling in you, the voice of Love.  We know that that voice encourages us when we are down.  The Spirit is described as the Comforter – one who gives us strength.  The Spirit moves our hearts to have compassion.  This voice of the Spirit is the voice you are use with one another.

 

The Spirit is also the voice that calls us to account when we are offending in the ways of love, awakening our conscience.  The reason God does this is not because He wants to show us up or how smart He is or to get back at us, but because God does not want to see the soul of His beloved harmed in any way.  So this shapes the character of any rebuke that might be necessary in a marriage.  We also know that Jesus is quick to forgive, full of mercy, forbears us, is patient, is kind.  So if a rebuke doesn’t work, you are patient and wait in hope for your beloved to see more clearly, as God does with us.

 

Your vows you just made to each other were to have and to hold your beloved not just for better, for richer, and in health, but for worse, for poorer, and in sickness. 

And it is in having and holding when your spouse is worse, poorer and sick that your love is really tested and also made perfect.

 

As you show this Christ-like love to one another in your marriage, you will find that God is uncovering His image and likeness in you and also in your beloved.  Respond with gladness to that image of Christ in each other and forgive and forbear that which yet to be reformed.

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To strengthen your marriage with one another – each of you individually, must take the time and the opportunities to strengthen your mystical marriage to God in Christ.

 

In the reading from Romans, St. Paul reminds us that it involves both our body and soul:

-             Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy.  Be holy – do not abuse your body or the body of your spouse – in your outward actions, in your daily lives, remember that your bodies are Temples of the Holy Spirit.  When you fail, be cleansed by the body and blood of Christ.

 

-             And of your soul St. Paul says, Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind – seeking always to know what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  That perfect will, what God wants of us, is discovered only in prayer and in reading Scripture and in listening to the council of mature Christians.

So, strengthen your mystical marriage with God – body and soul – and you will strengthen your marriage with one another.

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In the Gospel reading Jesus speaks of unity and faithfulness in marriage.

‘For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?’  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.  What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

 

Do you see how this applies both to your marriage individually with Christ and to your marriage with one another?

 

For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?  Jesus left his heavenly Father to take flesh and dwell with us.  When he died on the Cross he left his earthly mother, and by this dying and rising again he became married to His bride, the Church – so we are one flesh with Christ through baptism and faith.

 

And today, Michael and Amanda, you have left father and mother to cleave to one another and shall be one flesh.  It is God who has led you to one another and it is God who will sustain you in your marriage and deepen your love for one another.

 

What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Do not put asunder your marriage individually with God, and God will teach you all you need to know about marriage with one another.  And you will shine in your lives together as an ever and ever brighter image to the world, an icon, a living picture, of the mystical marriage of Christ and His Church.

 

May the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace, both now and evermore.  Amen.

 

(for more on the Purposes of Marriage and Marriage as a Sacrament click here)

 

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