Genesis 2:18-24: 50th Wedding Anniversary Service for Bob and Karen Sands

Fifty (610x351)The next time you want to hear a good love story, you don’t have to rent a “chick flick” DVD or watch it on Netflix. Neither do you have to buy one of those romance novels that you find at the drugstore. Just read the Old Testament. There, you’ll find some of the most dramatic boy-meets-girl stories ever written.

Think of Abraham. We usually remember him because of the promise God gave him. But Abraham was also a matchmaker. He sent his servant, Eliezer, to find a bride for his son, Isaac. So Abraham sent Eliezer away with a dowry of 10 camels and a bunch of gold. Thus started that grueling, 450-mile journey.

When Eliezer came to a well for water, he prayed to God for success. And what do you know: along came a young and beautiful woman, Rebekah, to the well with a jar on her shoulder. And when Eliezer brought her to Isaac, it was love at first sight.

Or consider Isaac’s son, Jacob. He took that same long journey. But when he came to a well, he had to deal with a large stone that had covered it, which usually took several men to move. But when Jacob saw Rachel, he rolled away the stone, all by himself. Then he brought water to her flocks. What a beauty she must have been! But Jacob wasn’t done. He labored seven—no, make that 14—years to get her to become his wife.

Then there’s Moses. He took a long journey from Egypt and came to a placed called Midian. While there, Moses saw some men verbally abusing some women, who were drawing water from a well for their flocks. Moses came to their aid and sent those men packing. Later, Moses married one of those damsels in distress whom he had rescued, Zipporah.

Look at what Adam even endured. He gave up a chunk of his body. God put him in a deep sleep, opened his side, and took out a part of Adam (it’s usually translated as “rib” but the Hebrew is not that precise). Then God fashioned Eve from that part of him and brought her to Adam. All Adam had to do was open his eyes. Then, he saw that God had remedied the “not-good” part of being alone. God made Eve like him, but also different. Need I get more specific?

So, what did Adam need from this marvelous creation whom God had just made? Did he need help with cooking? No. All Adam had to do was reach up to the plentiful fruit in the trees to eat. Did Adam need someone to make clothes for him? No. They were naked and not ashamed. No, Eve would be something much deeper and fuller for Adam than that.

The word that Scripture has traditionally translated as “helpmeet” to describe Eve means “someone who is his opposite, yet the same.” Eve was a complementary counterpart. In other words, she helped Adam by making him complete. She supplied what Adam lacked. Without Eve, Adam was deficient.

So, Bob, you are deficient. But God, out of great love for you, has given you someone who is like you (a human) but different (a woman). Men and women are supposed to be different. That’s the way God created it to be. Where one is weak, the other is strong. By being the same, yet different, God had set up marriage life to be that way. One helps where the other is weak; one’s strength comes to the aid of the other.

Bob, unlike Jacob, you didn’t have to roll a boulder away from the well. You just had to look cool when you were cruising the strip and play drums well to impress Karen. Even more, you didn’t even know all that when you made your way up from southern Illinois to the northern part of the state, where people sounded different. But, God was at work, planning to make you complete by giving you, Karen.

And that God did, 50 years ago. Bob, without Karen, you are like a head without a body, one piece of a two-part puzzle. Indeed, “it is not good for the man to be alone.”

But it is also not good for the woman to be alone. And so, God also joined Bob to Karen, making her complete, as well. You both now supply what the other lacks. Think of God, who He is as a Trinity. God was never alone; there was always Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So, why should creatures made in His image, according to His likeness, be alone?

I wish I could tell you that since your marriage 50 years ago, you have lived happily ever after, without a care or worry in the world. But as I’ve come to know you these last seven years, I know that would be a lie. After all, we are fallen beings living in a fallen world. And so the world, your sinful natures, and death trying to intrude into your lives, have affected your comings and your goings.

Bob, your heart has told you, time and again, that this fallen world is not your real home as it would beat rapidly and out of sync. Karen, cancer has tried to claim you twice. But God has used medical advances, even the bone marrow from your brother, to keep you in this time and place.

So, although, you bear your crosses, God still has more for you to do. After all, you’re still here, not with Him in eternity. And so, part of what God still gives you to do, is to serve the other.

Bob, you heard the epistle reading, which said that you are to love Karen the way Christ loved the Church. What’s that like? He died for her. He loved her so deeply that it cost Him is life. He shed His blood for her. He loved her unconditionally.

Bob, that means you love Karen, not just when you feel like it, and not just when you think she’s worthy of it (although she is worthy of it!). You love her because God has called you to be a living embodiment of Jesus’ love to Karen. Bob, when Karen sees you, she is to understand in a real and moving way how Jesus loves her.

When we in the Church mess up, Jesus never stops loving us. He is always there to receive us, to lavish more love on us, and to restart the relationship when we act as if we are not part of the Church. As Christ is always there to begin anew with us, Bob, be the same with Karen. When the doldrums weigh down your marriage, God has called you to break the impasse. Give to Karen that she may receive from you.

Karen, you are to submit to your husband as the Church is supposed to submit to Christ. So, what does the Church first do? She receives from her Lord. The Church accepts the love of her Savior. She does not question how He gives it. And from such love, she loves him back with all her heart. He is the head; you are the body. Both indispensable to the other.

Those are God’s real standards for marriage. Marriage is, indeed, a blessing–but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. For married life also shows you the depth of your sin and how unfit you are as husband and wife—according to God’s standards!

Bob, as wonderful of a man that you are, as much as respect you as a husband, you fall short. For what man can love as Christ loves? No man, except Jesus. And Karen, as beautiful as you are, with an inward beauty more precious than jewels or gold, you fall short. For what woman can submit as the Church is to submit to Christ? No woman, except the perfected and holy Church of Christ. But you both know that.

And, perhaps, that’s why you both are always hungry to hear—not just a good love story—but the greatest love story of all. The Apostle Paul says, “I’ll let you in on a mystery. A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. If you thought that was just about husbands and wives, think again. The mystery is that this is about Christ and His Church.”

It’s the love story about a Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He left his Father in heaven and took a long, dangerous journey to find a bride. He endured hunger, thirst, poverty, insult, beatings, and a grisly death to get himself a bride. And that’s us—His Bride, the Church.

But we were no beauty, not like Rachel or Rebekah. When Jesus found us, we were homely, ugly, and wrapped in the filthy garments of our sin. And like, Jacob, Jesus also found us at a well, the well of salvation—the baptismal font. There, He washed away our sins, beautified us, clothed us wonderfully, and made us into a lovely bride. It’s as we heard in today’s epistle reading: Jesus makes His bride “holy, cleansing her by the washing of water with the word.”

Jesus paid no dowry with camels and gold like Isaac did. No, the dowry was His blood—His innocent suffering and death. Jacob rolled that boulder away from the well in a short-lived show of strength for his lovely Rachel. But Christ, the Lover of His Bride, moved the giant stone away from His tomb on Easter morning as a permanent act of love for you, His Church.

Gaze into that open tomb and see your sin and death destroyed forever. Now that’s love. And that’s the one reason that gives your marriage, now entering its 51st year, true hope. Why? It’s because Jesus, the heavenly Bridegroom, has loved you.

When you are in Christ, and He is in you, such love keeps marriages together, as it has for these last 50 years. We love because He first loved us. When you are in that love, how can you not love the other? May it always be so! Amen.

 

Comments

  1. Bob Sands says:

    Pastor thank you for the service that we will never forget.
    God has Blessed us with his love.

    Bob