The wonderful, Christ-filled, sermon preached at Anna and my wedding by her father Rev. Mark Buetow.
The Marriage of Jon Kohlmeier and Anna Buetow
August 31, 2014
For a long time, it seemed to me that the mission of Higher Things was to assist parents, congregations, and pastors in cultivating, encouraging, and promoting a distinctively Lutheran identity among their youth and young adults, and to find a girl for Jon Kohlmeier. But, as difficult as it is to admit, we have to acknowledge that Jon and Anna are not here today to be united in holy marriage because of the hard work and effort of the staff of Higher Things. They are here to be joined together in marriage because…Jesus. Jon and Anna are being married today because Yahweh loves Israel like a bride. They are here today because of Jesus who has made the church His holy bride. They are here because of Cana, where Jesus showed to His disciples that He came to be the bridegroom of God’s people. They are here today because of Good Friday on which the New Adam’s bride, the church, was born from His side in water and blood. Jon and Anna are here today because their Father in heaven has given to them the gift of one another. And in their marriage, He once again gives the world this gift: a picture of Jesus Christ and His bride, the church, for whom He gave everything, to wash her and make her spotless and perfect in His sight. It is a holy union held together by Jesus’ love for His church, and by the forgiveness of sins which makes it all possible in the first place.
So, dear daughter Anna, through meeting Jon at Higher Things and Skyping as friends for several years, when your mother and I thought you were doing your homework, you are here today because your heavenly Father is giving you as a gift to Jon. You are to look to him like the church looks to Jesus. And how is that? The church looks to Jesus to be her Savior and forgive her sins. We expect that from Jesus. And so you expect that from Jon. Submitting to Jon isn’t about making him a sandwich whenever he demands one, even if he does have superuser privileges. Submitting as St. Paul uses the word means that there is no one else in the whole world you should go to to take care of you, protect you, love you, forgive you, cherish you, and put you above everything else. Expect that from Jon. You see, that is WHY you are a gift to him. Jon needs to learn to love someone beside himself, someone more than himself. Your calling as a wife is to be someone Jon needs to love and forgive. Your being Jon’s wife is one of the ways the Lord will teach him to die to himself every day and to love and forgive you as Christ loves and forgives all of us. The church rejoices and is happy to be served by Jesus and to let him be her Savior from sin, death and the devil. So there you go, Anna: That’s your wifely vocation: to enjoy being served by Jon with love and forgiveness just like when you come to church and rejoice in Jesus’ forgiveness!
And you, Jon, are the Lord’s gift to Anna. For you are to love her as Jesus loves His church. He died for His church. He washed His church at the font. You and Anna and all of His church have no spots or wrinkles or stains or blemishes in God’s eyes. So you are a gift to Anna to remind her of that. In your forgiving her, not counting her faults against her; in your seeing not a single spot, wrinkle, or blemish in her, you are at once both reminding her of Christ’s love for her and all sinners as well as confessing that’s what you believe too. In your absolute refusal to ever see her mistakes, to be upset by her shortcomings, to be mad at her for anything she does, you’ll be testifying that’s exactly how Jesus deals with His bride, the church. In your putting her up on a pedestal as the most important person in your life under the Lord Himself, you are showing what care Christ has for His bride. And just as it was not good for Adam to be alone, so Eve was made as a companion for him, so Anna is given to you as your companion. And this is WHY you are a gift to her. Because when she sins, messes up, makes mistakes, and fails, YOU are the one person in her whole life she will count upon to treat her not as if she messed up or is imperfect but as perfect and holy. No sins. No blemishes. No spots, wrinkles, warts, zits, or anything like that. You are her gift from the Lord Himself.
Now, marriage is not easy. It’s always a dangerous proposition when two sinners get together to share their lives. Everything we’ve said so far sounds really good…on the day of your wedding. But give life some time. You’ll see. When the devil, the world, your sinful nature…and Stan…seek to meddle with your happiness as husband and wife, then know this: it is the very thing that marriage pictures that will save you. Jesus loves His church. He gave His life for her. For you. He loves her. He loves you. He forgives her. He forgives you. Because I know you, Jon. And I know you, Anna. And therefore I know that your marriage is going to have abundant opportunities to learn what forgiveness is all about. The preparation for your marriage began a long time before we were trying to figure out where to have the reception. Long before the ring was picked out. It began on the days when you were both baptized and clothed with Christ. That very washing that St. Paul talks about in which every spot, wrinkle, blemish and stain of sin was removed by your Savior. And you have grown up hearing the blessed Good News that yours sins are forgiven because of Jesus Christ and Him crucified and risen. And you have eaten at the wedding feast of His body and blood. And it is a great comfort to know that you have a church here where that same Jesus will be preached and served to you every week. Because here from this pulpit and at this altar, your sins will be forgiven. Here, everything you do to show that you are still sinners as husband and wife will be covered up and forgiven. And that forgiveness doesn’t stop here and just with each of you. It’s that very forgiveness of Jesus that you will pass on to Anna, Jon, in covering up her faults. It’s that very forgiveness of Jesus, Anna, that you will give to Jon when he is not the husband he is vowing to be today. It’s forgiveness not just for Jon and Anna but for all of you, too. In your lives and marriages, that same Bridegroom who has made Jon and Anna a part of His bride, the church, has made you His bride as well.
So go now and be united in marriage, Jon and Anna. Live your lives in Christ. He has arranged the marriage. He has prepared the bride. He has given Himself for her. She is spotless and holy. But, of course I’m talking about Jesus and the church. But that’s what we see here pictured in the union of Jon and Anna. Have a blessed and joyous life together in Him who has made you perfect by His death and resurrection, His washing and His Supper. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.