December 1, 2012


So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.  -- Colossians 3

(Congregation, overhearing this brief interpretation of scripture for these two dear friends of mine on their wedding day will make much more sense when you learn that they have been teaching together a class of Jr. High youth on Sunday mornings here in our congregation.  As a couple, they have been leading their little flock of young believers through the famous wardrobe and into the fabled world of The Chronicles of Narnia, that masterpiece of children’s literature by Christian apologist C.S. Lewis.)

And so I want to say to you two, you brave new explorers (Or should I call you Pevensie siblings?) ... Welcome to your new Narnia. That is to say, welcome to the landscape of a staggering new world, a strange and wonderful country known as Christian marriage.

Try to imagine with me that this familiar place, these four walls so well known to both of you — For it is here in the space of word and sacrament that you have worshipped and shared fellowship and served the Lord, here were you are met week to week with the bath, book, and banquet of our generous Jesus — try today to imagine this good place as ... a wardrobe, a divine armoire, a covenantal closet.

Because here, in this time of glad worship, by your outlandish promises to one another, and by your confidence in those outstanding promises God has made to you, here you step into a new world.

It is not the land of Lewis, not the land of Calormen, Telmar, or Narnia.  Rather it is the territories of compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline, and love … all those Christ-shaped arenas laid out on the dependable map that is Colossians 3, your favorite passage.

These are your new domains, these make up the new world you will now inhabit.  Welcome to space for following Jesus through this life, together ... as the Son leads you ever closer to the Father, by way of countless neighbors and communions and even enemies ... all there for you to bless, together.  Dare I say it (and don’t spoil it yet for your class), but Jesus is your Aslan ... the lion of your shared life, that great one who laid down his life for you, whose word is your guide and whose life is your power. 

Now to be clear, and this should be said often among believers, one need not be married to be Christian. There is a long and important and noble place for singleness in the Christian communion and for the ministry of Jesus in the world.

But when Christians marry, that marriage becomes the primary territory in which Christ-shaped faithfulness and ministry are practiced and exercised and brought to perfection. After all, when our Lord calls us to “love our neighbor” — no less than the second great commandment — who else is a closer neighbor than the one beside whom you wake up each morning? In marriage, Christians practice daily that basic ministry to which we baptized folk are called in every other territory of life: faith, hope, and of course that all purpose garment ... love. 

So it is then that your vows send you packing today, through the wardrobe of this wedding, away from your former existence, and out into the land where you will learn to handle the good gifts of God’s in-breaking kingdom: 

Gifts such as forgiveness, when the checking account is overdrawn ... Patience, when the dirty clothes remain piled on the floor ... discipline, to keep you in your vows, when hot dates and hand holding give way to stomach flus and overly-short haircuts ... grace, when you are not the prince or princess you so desire each other to be ... How about mercy, when work in the world has been demanding and there is little left over for love at home ... and especially humility, lest you forget that you are not your spouse’s savior, nor do you need your traveling companion to be one for you.

Why? Because you already have a Savior, both of you, and he has gone on up ahead of you to prepare a good place, a lasting place, and he has left you his Word and Spirit to guide you along.

That news — that you both already belong to him — that is enough to see you through this journey. 

N. and N.,
it has been an honor to walk with you to this day.
Welcome to the threshold of a terrific new world.
Go on now. 
Go on through,