Click here to listen to this homily.
“Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways!” (Psalm 128:1).
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
Greg and Jessi,
Almost six months ago, we met for a similar, though much smaller, gathering, as you were joined together in the union of holy matrimony. In the sight of God and before your parents and grandparents, you pledged yourself, your faithfulness, to one another, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death parts you, according to God’s holy will. You were pronounced to be husband and wife in the eyes of the state and of the Church.
Today, you will not repeat those vows, for they have been made once and they are for a lifetime. So, we are not gathered here today so you can have the wedding of your dreams—whatever that may we be. Neither are we here for the party—though I’m sure the reception will be wonderful. And I’ve heard that the band for the dance is pretty good, too.
No, we are gathered here today, to ask for the blessing of God upon your marriage. Realizing that you both, like each one of us, is a fallen son or daughter of Adam, appreciating the highness of such a calling as marriage, understanding the importance of God’s blessing upon all our endeavors, and realizing the need for God’s continuing guidance and provision, you have invited your family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, to join you for this solemn and joyous occasion.
You have heard again God’s plan for marriage from Genesis and Matthew. St. Paul has reminded you how your love for one another is intended to be a reflection of the mystery of Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church.
In a few minutes, before God and His people, you will give your wholehearted pledges that you will live your marriage in God’s name, according to His Word, within His favor, and without reservation, daily seeking His blessing on your union.
And, finally, you and I and the rest of the congregation will pray that God would grant you always to live within His love and protection so that no sin or trial may separate you, but draw you closer to God and each other, even to the fulfillment of all your promises in Christ. In short, you’ve come today to seek God’s blessings!
Psalm 128, is both a promise of blessing and a prayer for blessing, centered upon the gifts which God gives us in our everyday lives, especially in our families. It begins: “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways!” (v.1).
If, as the psalmist tells us, the blessings of life are found in the fear of the Lord, then it seems that it would be a good idea to ask and answer an important question: What is “the fear of the Lord”? After all, we usually associate fear with something negative; and it is difficult for us to imagine how fear could bring a blessing.
The Hebrew term can mean to be afraid of someone or something. And the phrase, “the fear of the Lord,” often carries with it the fear of judgment. But the word fear can have other shades of meaning. When referring to a person of high position, it takes on the idea of standing in awe or reverence before that individual. God wants us to fear Him in this sense. He is our Creator, and He is our Savior. He is our Lord and King. How can we ever think of God with indifference or treat Him lightly?
This fear is closely related to trust because we can truly respect and revere God only when we believe that He is truly everything His Word says He is. Understanding “fear of the Lord” as trust helps us understand other enigmatic Bible passages such as Psalm 130:4: “But with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared.” To know and trust what God has done for you in Christ Jesus is the ultimate blessing.
Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, becoming one of us so that He might take your place. Jesus lived the perfect obedient life that you could not. He died on the cross to pay for your sins. He rose again for your justification. Ascended to the right hand of God, He intercedes for you before the Father, even as He is with you always to the end of the age in His Word and Sacraments. Baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, you are cleansed of your sins, adopted as God’s children, and clothed in Christ’s righteousness. In His Supper, He feeds you His very body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins and the strengthening of your faith. Through His Word, He continues to call you to repentance, to faith and forgiveness.
Once you have this “blessing,” this “fear of the Lord,” many other blessings follow, including fruitful labor, prosperity and fruitfulness in the marriage, family, Church, and nation. And one of my personal favorites: grandchildren!
Your relationship to God is not, nor should we ever think it is, a quid pro quo situation. God does not deal with us according what we have done for Him. Thank
God, He does not. There is no, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” No, God provides for each of us according to His grace and mercy, without any merit or worthiness on our part.
The Lord certainly does give His gifts, including family, long life, and daily bread, to those who fear Him. But He also gives these things to those who despise Him. The difference in the blessings of those who fear the Lord and those who do not fear Him is that those who fear the Lord have the added blessing of knowing where their gifts come from. The others attribute their blessings to luck, false gods, or their own hard work. All these things are undependable. Even hard work does not always pay off. The Lord, however, is dependable, and you can trust in Him to provide you with all you need daily for your body and life.
Greg and Jessi, I thank God that you have chosen this occasion to ask His blessing upon your marriage and family. And given all the blessings, we’ve spoken of today, it seems especially fitting that I close this message with a blessing.
May God grant you the blessings of life in the fear of the Lord. May you seek to live always in the grace and forgiveness of our Lord. May Christ’s love so fill you that your love for one another would never weary but grow and strengthen through every joy and sorrow shared. May you always see one another as God’s special gift and blessing. May you find fulfillment and fruitfulness in the work of your hands, your God-given vocations. May you be blessed with many children, as many as the Lord sees fit to give you. May you be blessed with a long life together, watching your children, and your children’s children grow. May the blessings of your family flow to this nation and all of God’s people. Amen.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.