Wedding of Christina Rose Dahling & Samuel Joseph Halverson
August 8, 2009
Text: I John 1:5-2:1
Chrissy, Sam, parents, grandparents, and all our dear Friends in Christ gathered here,
You might wonder from such a text what Pastor Walter is smoking? Did he forget that this is a wedding? No, I’m not smoking anything. And I don’t even think the pharmacy is dispensing anything questionable.
John confronts the basic reality of our life. We are sinners. St. Paul says that we are dead in trespasses and sins. David states that he was a sinner from the moment of his conception in his mother’s womb. Luther describes Baptism in the Small Catechism as a daily drowning of the old Adam - that is our sinful nature. All human being struggle with sin daily.
Chrissy, Sam, you also will struggle with sin daily. But now for you there is a complication. You have a spouse. Sin is no longer a matter between you and God and the world in general. Sin becomes something between the two of you, as well. Most of the sins you will commit will be against your spouse. It can divide you. It can become a wedge between you. And I am going to suggest to you that apologies are often not enough. What is needed, many times, is confession. James admonishes us to confess our sins to one another. This is never more important than between husband and wife. This is a problem however. Many times we don’t know what confession looks like. There is much that could be said of our Roman Catholic brothers, and our criticisms have long been published. But there is something that they do well. The traditional Roman formula for confession says: I have sinned, by my fault, my own fault, my own most grievous fault... I would commend these words to you as good and most Christian words. The Christian life if one of daily contrition and repentance.
And then how you will react to the confessions of one another? We are all to reflect Christ. Christ gave Himself for our sins. He makes us right with Him by forgiving our sins. Even more than this, He becomes our advocate. What is an advocate - a defense lawyer, a defender. In forgiving one another of their sins, you reverse roles. You become the one who would storm the very gates of hell for the other. In olden times, men would fight duels to defend the honor of their wives. This a reflection of this idea. We are to advocate for one another, just as Christ advocates for us, regardless of the cost. This is what we mean when we say that in marriage, we die to self and live for the other.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves... A spouse often reminds us most powerfully of our sin. But as brothers of Christ and sons of God the father, we are to live in the light. Repentance always means seeking to turn from our sins. Yet, as sinners, we know that we will always do this imperfectly. This means that sin will continue to be something that we struggle with each day. But we also know that we have the perfect remedy for our sins, that is the forgiveness of our sins won for us by Christ. This very same Christ, who paid the price of our sins, is now our advocate, our defender before God the Father. And so also in marriage, living in the light means living in forgiveness. We must live in the light of Christ’s forgiveness, which we in turn reflect to one another. So then I would commend to you this one thought. The key to a truly Christian marriage is the forgiveness of sins - both the forgiveness you receive from Christ and the forgiveness you give to one another.