For Bethany and Alex on your wedding day.
6th September 2014
This sermon was delivered during the wedding of my daughter Bethany to Alex Davies at Bethesda Chapel in Dinas Powys, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales UK.
I have had many adventures in my life…
- I have chased the Northern Lights across Iceland and Northern Norway.
- Several years ago I drove down the Ice Highway in the Canadian Rockies from Jasper to Banff
- In South Africa, I took part in an evening elephant Safari and spent time on a game reserve and sat at the top of Table Mountain.
- I have visited Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island
- I’ve slept in a simple house on a mountainside in Lesotho with the most beautiful family, where I was accepted as one of their own.
- I have travelled overnight on a train from Macedonia to Kosovo and watched a football match with the locals.
…but the greatest adventure on my life began on the day I married your mum. It’s an adventure that has been going on for almost 39 years and every day is better than the day before.
Bethany and Alex you are about to start out on this great adventure yourselves and on this your wedding day I want to give you some advice to help you enjoy this great adventure to the full.
Before any adventure, I always think about my travelling companions. I have never travelled alone – some people do – but the thought of having someone with you, for help during tough times, or to appreciate amazing sights is a must for me.
I notice from your order of service that you recognise that God brought you two together. I have no doubt that is true. Neither of you are perfect but each of you is perfect for each other. You will enjoy adventuring together. But… you are not alone…
Look around you – look at all these who in a real sense will be travelling with you, I am sure there is not one person here who has come just because you invited them – they are because they love you… they will always be with you and will extend to you the hand of friendship whenever you need it!
God gave you to each other its not an accident. Alex and Bethany, you will be travelling with God. Keep Him at the very centre of your marriage. I want you to think about the way God loves you and I want you to love one another in the same way.
Build your marriage on the rock of God’s love.
Here what God’s word says
Reading from Ephesians 5:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
The Bible tells us God is love. What kind of love is it?
- Unconditional love. God never says I will love you if…
Unconditional love seeks to give not to take, it puts the interests of others first. No conditions. That is the kind of love I want you both to show in your marriage.
- Selfless love. Ephesians 5 gives great advice here in verse 22 – Wives submit to your husband as to the Lord for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. Verse 25 says Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church. Did you see the Biblical advice? Bethany, you have got to love Alex enough to live for him. Alex you have got to love Bethany like Christ loved the church… you have to love her enough to die for her.
The next thing I do then is to look up some reviews; I’m a Trip Advisor specialist – in the top 4% in the UK! It’s good to hear what other people say about where you are going. It helps you avoid the pitfalls and helps gets the best out of the journey.
In a few moments, I am going to give you away. It’s a tough thing to do, but it doesn’t mean of course that you can’t come back and call round. Your immediate family have almost 100 years of marriage experience. Be sure to use that.
Also I asked some of your friends to give a review. Here are a few. The rest you can read some other time.
Just to say that my wedding day is a fantastic memory, 48 years ago. Whenever I feel blue, I look at my ring and remember the love of family and friends on that special day in a beautiful Church in North Wales. I too, was only twenty but knew how much I loved the man I married and treasure him more than ever now. Lots of adventures, sorrow and the love of God on the way. Be ready to be flexible and not to argue -just to love and share.
For us marriage is about having a unique bond with that one other person, the only person that you will fully share everything with. The best thing about marriage to us is keeping each other going so that you can fulfil the dream you otherwise would not have been brave enough to attempt. To be excited together in the good times & to be the encouragement when what you’re doing becomes a challenge. The day you get married truly is just the beginning….it’s a love that never grows tired or is completely finished finding ways to fully express itself….it will always baffle you how it has the ability to keep getting more & more amazing. Marriage is definitely a gift to be treasured.
R & P
Marriage is being able to share your life journey with your very best friend. It is not having to say goodbye every night but simply ‘goodnight’ and waking up to face each new day together. Marriage is a journey of learning how to make someone else happy and in that journey finding true joy.
Marriage has God written all over it as when He is central it works- it just works!
P & J
Although I’ve only been married a few months, marriage has come to mean two things to me. First, marriage is grace. The kind of grace that comes from waves of unconditional love and forgiveness shown daily to one another- the kind of grace that Jesus so perfectly displays.
Second, marriage is joy. Embarking on marriage, and doing life together, has been so fun, humorous and overwhelmingly joy-filled. My prayer is that Bethany and Alex will experience endless grace, joy and love throughout their wonderful marriage! “
R & C
“Marriage to us is a wonderful gift from God to share with the one person you love. It is a place to put God first and watch him guide and provide for all of life’s ups and downs. It is a place to be best friends, to bear one another’s burdens, to love, laugh and make memories. To go on a lifelong adventure and build a family. It is a place to grow old together. After our relationship personally with God, this is the most important relationship we will ever have.”
N & S
For me, the commitment of marriage meant that we were making a serious promise to each other in front of family and friends – and above all, God. We committed to becoming a team, navigating through life together… – to support, to love and to encourage each other, wherever life took us. Little did we know back then, how important being a team would become. Although the last 13 years have brought some incredible memories, there have been times when challenges arose that meant we had to work hard at making our little team stronger. And through it all – and despite ALL of our flaws, I still choose him and he still chooses me.
J & K xx
Marriage is about turning the I into we, it’s give and take, of enjoying each other’s company, without even speaking, make sure you have lots of fun and laughter, and make sure God is at the centre xx
D & J
Loving and enjoying each other’s company everyday and not being embarrassed to walk around the house with tissue shoved up your nose when it’s running!! Xxxx
E & J
Packing a suitcase
There is always great excitement when you start packing for an adventure, my old mum used to start packing months before any trip began. Of course, different adventures call for different clothes. Wearing a swimsuit chasing the Northern Lights inside the Arctic Circle is not recommended; neither is wearing thermals underwear looking at the treasures of Florence in mid summer!
Packing a suitcase is an important part of your adventure. You need to wear suitable clothes. As far as marriage is concerned, The Bible gives us a good description of the clothes we need to wear.
Reading from Colossians Chapter 3
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
These clothes Paul invites us to put on are not made of natural fibres. They are woven of spiritual stuff. Try as you might in your own power to create them and you will fail, you need God to create them. Compassion, humility, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, and love — these don’t come naturally. They are gifts God gives us when we pray for them. Make sure you both clothe yourselves with these great qualities throughout your married life.
Finally… A Guidebook
One of the most important things to take with you is a guidebook. I have a shelf full at home. It’s usually the last thing I pack. A good guidebook, will tell you just about all you need to know about the place where you are going. It tells you the things you must do, the places you must see and the things to avoid. The Bible is God’s guidebook for marriage. Take God’s word with you as you begin this great adventure together and keep it with you all the way through!!
It’s the perfect guidebook because marriage is God’s idea. He wants it to succeed. God is committed to your marriage.
Listen to these words from the very early pages of The Bible
Reading from Genesis 2
And the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
This lovely passage highlights three important principles for a happy marriage.
For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother…. – It’s so exciting! You are setting up a new family, a new home. It’s the first principle.
…. and shall be united to his wife. – principle 2 permanence. The KJV & Hebrew – translate the word united as the word ‘cleave’ Cleave means to be bonded – bonded, glued or stuck together for ever
Soon Nathan will be saying these words to you…. ‘What God has joined together let no man separate – EVER!
….and they shall become one flesh. – principle 3 speaks of unity. This is a mystery. You will still be two individuals, yet you will be as one. This takes time; it is built up like a tapestry, stitch by stitch. Remember what God said about Eve. She was a helper ‘suitable’ for Adam.
Jean is for me.
I believe God has brought you two together because you were meant for each other. Alex you will find everything you don’t have Bethany will, everything she needs, you possess. I couldn’t be the person God wants me to be without Jean by my side.
And remember if marriage is God’s idea, He’ll always be close at hand helping you make it succeed. When problems and difficulties arise, as they will, turn to God first.
God has an amazing track record of working with fallible human beings and of enabling them to achieve the most wonderful things.
Remember at the outset. Being happy in marriage is not so much finding the right person; it’s being the right person.
Reading from Isaiah chapter 43.
This is what the Lord says—
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour;
You are precious and honoured in my sight, because I love you.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
When I read these verses written over three thousand years ago, four phrases stood out… Remember that these words were written to God’s people and they were written for you as you start this great adventure today!.
Remember God says to you both on your wedding day…
You are mine. I will be with you. You are precious. I love you…
The Bible is God’s Guidebook to a happy marriage. Both sets of parents would now like to present you with a Family Bible to help you on your way as you live out this great adventure. Take it, read it and treasure it.
As you begin this great adventure today and as you make your marriage vows remember this carefully…
You don’t know what the future holds… but you know who holds the future.
Trust Him always.