An excerpt from the wedding homily:
Robert and Emily, we’ve all gathered here today to do several things. Your families are here because they have always been with you every step of the way. From day one they’ve loved you, instructed you, protected you and shared in your successes and failures. They’ve been laboring on your behalf to get you to this point so that they can step back and see if you’ll carry on what they’ve begun. Friends, who have known you for varying lengths of time, are happy to be here as well because they love you and want to share in this happy moment and to offer their support. You’ve been showered with gifts and blessings and prayers. But all who are here, especially your wedding party, are also here as witnesses. We’re here to see you and hear you make promises to God and to one another—to enter into a solemn covenant.
You’re launching a building project together. We’re all here for the ground-breaking ceremony, but we also plan to watch as you build this new house. We want to see it finished. We want the glory of this day of beginning to be exceeded by a long-standing and glorious building that’s not only beautiful, but solid and lasting. And so, that will have far more to do with what’s underneath this ceremony than it does the ceremony itself. I’m confident that the two of you have, indeed, started well. Therefore, I’m more than hopeful that you’ll also finish well. With that said, let’s consider the words of Jesus and how important He says His words are.
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. —Matthew 7:24-27
Robert and Emily, seven weeks ago you sat in the congregation and witnessed Drew and Taylor’s wedding. At that time, I used this same text of Scripture to exhort them. The fundamental message of marriage remains the same for every wedding. But there’s always more that can be said. And so, let me expand further upon this text and look at it from some different angles and draw out some additional lessons.
This story, told by Jesus, is known as the parable of the two builders. As we hear the parable, we should be looking to find ourselves in the story. At the start, Jesus tell us what is being illustrated and taught. There are two kinds of people, and in your case today, there are also two kinds of marriages. Every person, and every marriage fits fundamentally into one or the other of these categories. Every marriage is built on something—some kind of foundation. You can’t build in mid-air. The choices are between ground that is solid, unshakable, and immovable, or else it will be ground that is shifting, unstable, and ever-changing.
On the wedding day most couples are very hopeful about the future of their marriages. They think they have what it takes. They’re usually full of affection, passion, enthusiasm, hopes and dreams. Great effort and expense goes into the wedding ceremony (as it should). But too often, not near as much effort goes into the marriage itself. The newness of the house can cover a faulty foundation. A combination of ignorance, naiveté, presumption, false ideas lead many houses, or marriages to begin to teeter, and a fair number of them will fail and fall. The world can make it all look so easy. The Avett Brothers wrote a song titled: “Love Like the Movies,” and here are some of the lyrics of that song:
So you want to be in love like the movies
But in the movies they’re not in love at all
And with a twinkle in their eyes
They’re just saying their lines
So we can’t be in love like the movies
Now in the movies they make it look so perfect
And in the background they’re always playing the right song
And in the ending there’s always a resolution
But real life is more than just two hours long
It’s not uncommon for people to assume that a building project is relatively simple; that it can be done quickly on the fly. But anyone who has done much building knows that to do it right will require a great deal of preparation, thought and planning. There’s a saying in woodworking: “Measure twice, cut once.”
Jesus says that His Word is the solid rock upon which our houses must be built. Two houses could look identical on the outside. In fact, one of them might be more beautiful and impressive, but what those two houses are built on will be tested over time. Jesus says that there are storms coming, and come they will. There will be all kinds of storms. Some you see coming, and others come out of nowhere. That’s why, in a few moments from now, you will vow to each other to be faithful: in plenty and in want; in joy and in sorrow; in sickness and in health. If your house—your marriage—is built on the solid rock of the Word of God, it will withstand any and every storm. In fact, your home will be the shelter from the storm—the place of safety and security. Psalm 127:1 tells us that “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” Now, Robert and Emily, go forth and build, and may all of God’s covenant blessing be yours forever! Amen.