Genesis 2 - So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Dear Friends in Christ,
April of 1916 and May of 1962 are red letter dates at (Trinity Lutheran). About ten years ago, we started a men’s Bible Study at ExpressWay and we called ourselves Men of Integrity. The purpose of that study was to encourage one to be better men, better husbands, and better fathers. Only about five or six men showed up for the class, and then we began to hear that one of the excuses for not coming to this class was that they didn’t have enough integrity to be part of the class. So we changed the name of the class to Men Who Need Help. Ten years later, we’re still meeting twice a month, in the same place, with the same purposes, and instead of five or six men of integrity showing up, we now have four or five men who need help showing up.
Men have always needed help here at Trinity Lutheran, and on this LWML Sunday, that’s why I say that April of 1916 is a red letter date – that’s when the Ladies’ Aid began to meet mainly for the purpose of serving their Lord with gladness, and when I say that May of 1962 is a red letter date here at Trinity, I say so because that’s when the Dorcas Society began to meet and to do so mainly for the purpose of serving their Lord with glad hearts. Our history booklets in this place indicate that going way back, the purpose of our LWML groups has been to foster Christian fellowship, to support the work of the church at home and at large, and to help the needy with works of charity. The motto of our ladies groups has always been and is to this very day simply to serve the Lord with gladness, and today we give thanks to God for all of that serving and all of that gladness which has been to the glory of God and for the building up of His saints in this place.
Of course, the idea that men need help goes back a lot further than 1916 or 1942. It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, where everything, absolutely everything that God had created was very good, except for one thing. It was not good that the man should be alone. It had never been the Creator’s intent to have Adam live alone, and so He designed a helper suitable for him. Our text makes it clear that God did not force this companion on the man. He had created animals of all kinds and now brought them to Adam to have him name them. One reason for God’s doing this was to provide Adam an opportunity to share God’s thoughts about his loneliness and to develop a longing for the special gift God was about to give him.
As Adam selected appropriate names for each of the animals and birds, he noted that each of them had a mate. Even though people like to say that dogs are a man’s best friend, Adam already then recognized that no animal was suited for intimate companionship with him. Adam had no one with whom he could share the joy of living in paradise. And so it came to be that God established the institution of marriage. An institution clearly defined as between one man and one woman where both of them pledge themselves unconditionally to each other and where they give evidence of this by breaking off a close family bond in order to establish a new one.
People have all kinds of ideas of what true love and marriage look like. When asked, “What is falling in love like? John, age 9- It’s like an avalanche, and you ought to run for your life. When asked, “Why do married people hold hands? Gavin, age 8 – They want to make sure their rings don’t fall off, because they paid good money for them. When asked, “How do you tell if two adults eating at a restaurant are really in love?” a child answered, “Lovers will be just staring at each other and their food will get cold. Married people will just be eating.”
In today’s sermon, I invite you to learn again three Biblical purposes of marriage. First, God intended marriage on earth as a cure for (loneliness). The order for Holy Matrimony we use in this Church says it this way, “The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for the mutual companionship, help, and support that each person ought to receive from the other, both in prosperity and adversity.”
Socrates said, “There is no possession more valuable than a good and faithful friend.” Francis Back suggested that “friendship doubles joys and cuts in half griefs.” Through Solomon, the Holy Spirit said it this way, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: if one falls down his friend can help him back up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also if 2 lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
Recently I officiated at a marriage ceremony where the couple had chosen a Unity Cross ceremony. The suggested words in that ceremony say it well, The Groom places the outer Cross in the beautiful wood base as the Pastor explains how God created man- Bold, Strong, the Defender of the Family yet how he is empty and incomplete without the woman. The Bride then places the more delicate cross inside of the Grooms cross as the Pastor explains how God created Woman- Delicate, multi-faceted, taking care of all of the little things that completes the man, and the -Two become One. The Bride and Groom then use the 3 golden pegs to lock the union(cross) together in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit as the pastor exclaims that: What God has brought together let no man take apart.”
We don’t mean to give the impression that everybody has to be married. St. Paul was single and glad that he was single. He said he wished everybody could be single, but then he added, “It is better to marry than to burn with passion.” Which brings us to a second purpose for marriage
Secondly, our Order of Service declares, God ordained marriage so that man and woman may find (delight) in one another. Therefore, all persons who marry shall take a spouse in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust, for God has not called us to impurity but in holiness. Research suggests couples are waiting longer and longer to get married, that fewer and fewer are holding to the traditional values, but that there is still this desire to be connected to Christ and His Church. With that in mind, we schedule between 15 and 25 weddings each year here at Trinity. Our strong desire is to help young couples to stay connected to their Savior, to see the beauty of keeping their promises to each other, and to delight in honoring and cherishing each other in all the stages of life.
Third God established marriage as a place where the (baton) of Christian faith may be handed from one generation to the other. The Order for Holy Matrimony in our Agenda says it this way, “God also established marriage for the procreation of children who are to be brought up in the fear and instruction of the Lord so that they may offer Him their praise.”
For some of us, the kingdom of God is like a relay race where our parents handed to us the very baton their parents had handed to them. For others of us, a pastor or a youth counselor or a teacher were very much involved in the handing of the baton. For still others of us, marriage was the manner in which the Holy Spirit got ahold of us and started turning us around. For many of us, it is a combination of all of the above.
The prayer we offer in the Order of Matrimony includes this prayer, “O God, our dwelling place in all generations, look with favor upon the homes of our land. Embrace husbands and wives, parents and children, in the arms of Your love, and grant that each, in reverence for Christ, fulfill the duties You have given. Bless our homes that they may ever be a shelter for the defenseless, a fortress for the tempted, a resting place for the weary, and a foretaste of our eternal home with You.
If it’s true that a picture is worth a (thousand) words, then you just saw four pictures worth 4000 words. That our homes would be a 1)shelter for the defenseless, 2) a fortress for the tempted, 3)a resting place for the weary, and 4)a foretaste of our eternal home with You.
Dear friends in Christ, every time you see a husband be kind and patient to his wife, let it be a picture of Jesus Christ loving you with a tenderness unmatched. Every time you see a wife forgiving her husband for coming up short on his promises, let it be a picture of Jesus Christ sending away your sins as far as the east is from the west. Every time you see a single parent sacrificing so that her daughter can attend a Christian school, let it be a picture of your Savior slowly and prayerfully making his way to the cross for the joys of resurrection set before Him. Every time you see a child apologizing to his grandpa for being naughty, let it be a picture of the angels and archangels of heaven rejoicing over one sinner that repents. Every time you see in your church or in your community a couple getting married, why not get down on your knees and pray that their marriage would be a picture of Jesus Christ’s unwavering commitment to His Bride, the Church. Amen.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther