The Perfect Love Story: Sermon for the Wedding of Logan & Samantha Moeller
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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
The way they looked at each other and held each other’s hand as they walked through the mall told a story in itself. I would guess them to be well into their 80s. But what you noticed was not so much their age as their obvious concern for one another. Occasionally, she would glance at him with a twinkle in her eye as if to say, “You are my man and I love you.” He, in turn would smile a well-practiced smile and with only a look reply, “I know, and I love you, too.” It was obvious they were partners, friends, and lovers.
As this nameless couple walked side-by-side their love told a story for anyone who would take the time to watch. It was a story without words. If words were necessary, they could doubtless fill many chapters, recalling times of challenge and joy, struggle and success. As I sat on the bench and watched, I couldn’t help but find myself imagining their story, filling in the details in my own mind.
First their eyes met. They both turned away when they felt a glance become an uncomfortable stare. Both chanced a second peek when they thought the other would not be looking. Later, they mustered the courage to actually speak to each other. Well, she did more talking than he. But he managed to string together enough words to ask her out on a real date. Soon they would be seen together at every church social and community event.
A year later, they were married in a simple ceremony in a little church (much like this one). Their early years together were not easy, but neither seemed to mind. He worked extra shifts to help save up for a down payment on their dream house. She cooked from scratch and canned their garden produce to reduce expenses, and spent her spare moments doing all of the little things that make a house a home. It was a struggle, but they succeeded by working together.
Soon they moved from being a couple to being a family. As children arrived, they sometimes had to sacrifice what they wanted for the things their children needed. But what they lacked materially, they made up for in warmth, humor, and tenderness. When their kids entered school, the evenings were filled with church and school events, and helping with homework. Still they made time for family meals and devotions. The teen years were probably the most challenging period of their life together. Their parenting skills were tested virtually every day. To be sure, they made their share of mistakes, but each day they prayed that God’s love and grace would fill out their insufficiencies.
Before they knew it, it was time to send their children out to write their own stories. For this couple, it was a time of writing a new chapter for themselves, too. It was a time of reconnecting, but in a new way. Now they had time, once again, to center their lives on each other. It was a time of making readjustments, renewing old interests, and reprioritizing their time. It seems one day they were changing diapers and getting kids ready for school; the next day, they were focusing on planning their retirement together.
That day came much sooner than they expected, too. They bought a used recreational vehicle. Stayed in Arizona for a couple of months each winter. Visited their family often enough to sufficiently spoil their grandchildren, but not so much as to wear out their welcome. The last couple of years each had taken a turn nursing the other through a serious health scare, but now both were doing well. Through each joy and sorrow shared their love for one another grew and deepened.
I have no idea whether any of this remotely resembled the life this couple in the mall had shared. But I’d like to think so. It seemed obvious that they had a story to tell, a love story. They could teach us much about what it means to be married—to have the kind of partnership God intended for us in marriage. You see—marriage is not only our story; it’s God’s story, too. He wrote love and romance right into the plotline from the very beginning.
The book of Genesis tells the story of the first couple to begin their journey together as husband and wife. We know their names—Adam and Eve. God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Looking around, God saw there was no other created being that could be this for Adam, so He made one especially for him. He took a rib from man and used it to fashion a woman, someone perfectly suited to love, support, and complete the man. Adam and Eve were created to walk as partners, friends, and lovers. That is God’s perfect plan for marriage: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
In the beginning, the first couple were perfectly united. They worked and functioned as a team. But they were also very much unique individuals. Each had something to contribute as they walked side-by-side, supporting each other throughout their story, year after year, and chapter after chapter. They were God’s gift to each other.
And you, too, Logan and Samantha, are God’s gift to each other. God willing, you, too, will write many chapters in your own love story. Some will be written for you. No chapter will be exactly the same. Only God knows exactly how your story will unfold. But then, mystery is an element of good story telling, isn’t it?
In your story, there will be movement and growth. There will be surprises. There will be adjustments and readjustments. It won’t always be easy (just ask any older couple at the mall). There may be times when you let each other down. There may be days when you become angry and say things you wish you’d never said. But be assured that you will never be alone. God, who brought you together, will always be walking with you. Remember, this is His story too.
As I already mentioned, God’s love story began with Adam and Eve. Created in God’s image, the two were like God in many ways: holy like God is holy, loving the way that God is loving, righteous as God is righteous. Adam and Eve were perfect for each other because they were perfect—literally, perfect! But unfortunately, it didn’t last. Adam and Eve blew it. They sinned and, by doing so, lost the image of God. They were no longer the perfect couple for the simple reason they were no longer perfect. The rest, as we say, is history.
But it’s not just history. The rest, sad to say, is part of our story, too. When Adam and Eve lost the image of God, we lost it, too. The sin of our first parents has been passed on to all of their descendants. We’re not like God any more, either. Holy? Not by a long shot! Loving? Not always! Not unconditionally. I know that you have discovered this about each other—neither of you is perfect. One thing that I’ve always admired about Logan is his honesty and openness about his imperfections and insecurities. Sometimes uncomfortably, almost embarrassingly, honest. That’s what makes him a good writer. And Samantha, as we’ve visited, I’ve come to know you are well aware of your own faults and foibles.
The hard, cruel reality is that each marriage since the first one in the Garden is the union of two sinners. If someone is expecting perfection or near perfection from his or her spouse, then he or she will soon be disappointed. Each person in the marriage is, as the ancient liturgy sets forth, a poor miserable sinner, who justly deserves God’s temporal and eternal punishment. Left to our own resources, it would be a sad short story, indeed.
But I have Good News for you, Logan and Samantha, and everyone else gathered here: Though it would have been well within His rights to do so, God did not end the story there. To the first man and woman who had fallen into sin, God promised a Savior, who would defeat sin, death, and the power of the devil. He would redeem this fallen couple and their descendants that they might have eternal life. He would restore unity and love to relationships broken by sin.
Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise. In His death and resurrection, He brings to a glorious climax the story of God’s love and mercy. Our Lord Jesus shows us His love by giving up His life on the cross so that we might live as God’s chosen people, God’s dearly beloved children. And as Christ shows His love for His bride, the Church, He gives us the perfect model for marriage. Wives submitting to husbands as to the Lord. Husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her. Through His Word, God empowers Christian marriages to be a human echo of that relationship—one of submission and service, forgiving and building up one another. This is the perfect love story. It is the story I most love to tell, the story we love to hear. Logan and Samantha, it is your story today as you begin your life together in His name.
Who knows? Perhaps one day, after many chapters of your life have been written, you may be walking along in a mall and someone will look at you and see a story, a story without words, a story of love and forgiveness. They will see in you, a Savior who has guided you every step of the journey and who promises heaven at the end of your days. It’s your story, but it’s really His story, God’s perfect love story.
It is my prayer for you, Logan and Samantha, that your marriage will be a reflection of the perfect love that Christ has for His bride, the Church. May you continue to receive God’s grace and forgiveness through the lifelines of love, His Word and sacraments. As the Holy Spirit works faith and love in you, may you continue to write your own perfect love story. Amen.