The blessing of a marriage

J & J requested a service of blessing after their marriage in a registry office. This was the address at that service.

I thought I would do a 'gospel skim' with you this evening, as we look for a sense of what exactly is happening here this evening in this church.

The journalists among you, J included will know very well what a skim reading is.

According to J it's rather like 'FACT GRUBBING' where you wade through a pile of ‘bumph’ in order to find something remotely interesting!

So I hope you all find our gospel reading 'FACT GRUBBING' exercise is relevant as well as interesting for J and J’s blessing service, and that it speaks not only to them, but also to you too..

Now which parts jump out at us and give us some insight into married life?

First of all we're told that 'Jesus was invited to the wedding…'

In the bible there are some texts which make it quite clear that when we invite Jesus in to where we are, he does come in.

He has been invited here this evening by J and J, so don't feel amazed if at some time during this service, you are surprised by joy, (as C.S. Lewis put it) or moved with tears or strangely comforted by His peace. Don't be taken if you sense his presence with us. You may have done already.

Then we are told 'the wine ran out.'

There are times in our lives when we are quick to blame God for our emptiness, our loneliness; times when we wonder where is God in all this?

We see today that it is possible today, for miracles to have been taking place right under our noses and we have not recognised God in it or truly given thanks for what he has done in our lives. We see before us two people who ‘discovered’ each other, on a Jazz course far away from their homes. Could it not be that they were each led to Bedfordshire, and to each other? And all the happiness they have found in each other along, with M, A and T is nothing short of a little miracle of the sort that happened at Cana in Galilee,

Let's give credit to God when good happens; after all people often blame God for the bad, whether he’s to blame or not. But we don’t always appreciate God's hand upon our lives, do we?.

We note that there were 6 stone water- jars for the purpose of purification ceremonies;

each could hold a vast amount of water; each had such potential.

However before they could be properly used for Jesus' purposes, they would have been washed clean, rinsed and prepared. Each could hold 20 or 30 gallons. And so they were filled at Jesus command, right to the brim. In order for Jesus to live in us , there is much to clear away, this is true in marriage;-

We sometimes come to a marriage with unnecessary and excess baggage:-

By that I mean, old ways, bad habits, pride, self-centredness, high expectations of others. We may not even realise we carry this baggage, but it usually does surface and it has to be dealt with.

Through each other, through honest and loving speech, we can help one another go forward. Our shortcomings are never successfully covered over or hidden. So many marriages fail today through allowing something to fester. Sadly so much unhappiness comes where there is an inability to share problems with a partner, or give them the comfort and support they need. This is why we make the promise… for better, for worse.. in sickness and in health;

We can be healers for each other in our marriages. Especially where there is a need to forgive.

'Fill the jars with water, ' Jesus said.

Only when we are cleansed, can the living water that Jesus alone can give, be poured into our lives. And then of course, there's that lovely phrase from Mary, mother of Jesus, to the servants,

'Do as He tells you'

If only we could do as Jesus has told us to do, how much happier many marriages would be.

There would be respect, compassion, tenderness, mercy, forgiveness. These are the qualities of Jesus that enrich our lives; qualities we pray today will forever remain with these two happy people.

Then the water became wine.

When two people are so willing to put something 'IN' to a marriage, and give of each to the other, a miracle does take place.

But we're not talking two people here. This marriage calls upon the input of three other very important people too.

Already this family has shown acceptance and great love for each other. I know that J is delighted with her new family, and the children have been very loving and welcoming.

I’m so happy for J especially, when I think of the joys of motherhood she is going to experience as the years pass by , so she is doubly blessed in her marriage to J.

And love can't be hurried, it must go at its own pace.

It's not easy for J to be thrust into two brand new roles never mind one.

Nor is it easy, for children to get used to a brand new someone in their home.

But before I finish, there's one more person I'd like to mention, who is still part of this family’s memories. And that is J's first wife; the children's first mother, M.

What shone out from M, was a great joy and exhuberance for good news. If ever you shared happy events with her, she was always so delighted. She was such an encourager of other people.

I knew M personally; she surely must be a part of that great cloud of witnesses that the book of Hebrews tells us, who surround us and rejoice with us. I can almost see her dancing with joy, that J has found such a loving wife, and that the children now have arms with which to hold them again, and ears to listen to their troubles; a friend in their need.

Given time, the best wine will flow.

It is a new adventure for you all to live in harmony, just like instruments in a band , blending together, tapping out the same rhythm, keeping in tune and making together the sweetest sound. May God enrich your lives.

Prayers:

O God of Love, whose greatest gift is Love,

Look upon J and J,whose marriage has been blessed by you this day.

We thank you that they have found such love and faith and trust in each other,

to have and to hold all the days of their life.

Let nothing ever come between them, but throughout all the chances and changes of life,

Keep them forever loving and forever true.

Grant to them the perfect love which casts out all fear, that in you they may put their trust and be made whole.

We offer you this family; enfold them in your care, as they grow in their knowledge and understanding of each other and of you.