Below is the basic manuscript I wrote for Twana and Wesner's wedding today. It was a glorious day. God truly blessed.
Wesner and Twana, the moment you've been looking forward to for your whole lives is here. The day your families, friends and church family has been thinking about for so long has finally come. Now I say finally, but in reality it's only been since last summer that you've been picturing the person before you now in your wedding day dream.
Time has flown by and a WHOLE lot has happened since Twana's unforgettable birthday when there was cake, canvassing and e-ven-tu-al-ly a ring…but no Caleb hiding in or jumping from the bushes with his hidden camera after all.
I smile about your love story for one, because Deanne and I have a similar experience. We met in August 2008 just before school started and were married the following August with just enough time for a honey moon before another school year started.
It wasn't our plan, but once God got us to understand that He wanted us to be together, He just sped up the process. Now as I look at my marriage, I feel like I'm getting a better and better understanding of why He wanted us to be together and the relationship gets more and more satisfying as time goes by.
As amazing as today is, God wants your marriage to get better and better for you both. But that will only happen as you continue on in the same way you started.
In Matthew 6:33 Jesus said to, "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." In my relationship with both of you that is the only context I know you in, the context of pursuing and sharing Christ. Only more recently have I seen you pursuing and sharing each other. I love marriage counseling.
Twana, I first got to know you when Deanne and I went canvassing with you and Sierra. You helped to retrain me into literature evangelism. At the end of that summer we went with a team to Kenya to preach evangelistically. I remember the story you told of how the great controversy between Christ and Satan was playing out in the street by your site as you preached on that very topic. I remember how decked out you were with gifts from your listeners that final night in the hotel before we returned home.
Wesner, I’ve got to tell you, you're not the first to ask for Twana's hand in marriage. There were others in Kenya who wished they could have stood in your place, but praise God she refused them, so now she could say yes to you.
I first met you at a group Bible study, and then we studied together one on one and started playing music together. It was months before I found out that you used to be a professional soccer player because your focus was so totally on learning about the Bible. It just never came up because we talked almost exclusively about the Bible and church and music because that’s what you were into.
One of the highlights of my time here in Pennsylvania has definitely been that gorgeous afternoon at Chestnut Hill when you were baptized. The sun poured in through the stained glass windows to just as the tears are flowing from your eyes.
You have both been seeking God and He's been adding, "all these things." If you look at the previous verse in Jesus’ sermon on the mount you can see that, "these things," refers to what Your Heavenly Father knows that you need and provides for you as you seek Him first.
What a thing we are celebrating today. Could it be today that God is declaring that you need each other in your lives? It was apparently not good for this man to be alone any longer. It is not good for Twana to be alone anymore either so He's brought you together.
God wants to bless you with that love that Lamar read about in 1 Corinthians 13. He wants you to understand His love that is kind, compassionate, humble, honoring, generous, peaceful, forgiving, truthful, protecting, trusting, hopeful, persevering and unfailing. He wants you to understand that love like never before through each other.
God will use this relationship to help you to understand His intimate love deeper than you have to this point. This marriage will stretch you. It will remind you again and again that you must depend on Christ for the kind of love I just mentioned, because no matter how cute she is or how handsome he is, no matter how good of a cook she is or how handy he is, there will be some nights when that's just not enough to keep you from frowning at your spouse who just ate that infamous last piece of chicken. I almost feel like we should have talked about chicken in our marriage counseling after your wedding shower. It seems like it runs pretty deep.
There may be times when one of you does something to upset the other that makes you feel as distant as New York is from Haiti. In those times I hope you will refocus on Christ.
Colossians 1:17 (NIV) says that Jesus is “before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Verses 19 - 20 say, "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross." Praise God His sacrificial love is always enough, it can always span the gap and bring His people back together.
As I was thinking about this homily I wondered how many women imagine having their wedding day on Resurrection Sunday? People often say it's the bride's day, but if it's on the same day we celebrate Jesus rising from the tomb doesn't it get trumped somehow? I think your date choice is amazing. It is Jesus' day. We all know this particular day is about Him.
What's beautiful is that your wedding is so clearly designed to glorify Him.
As I've seen the thoughtful program and way you both have handled yourselves leading up to this moment I just get the sense that it's not really about you. You have been serving everybody else. It's about Jesus and so are your lives
I look at your relationship and I see Jesus. Relationships with people can help us to understand our relationship with God. But today, in honor of Jesus sacrifice and resurrection, I want to just take some of Jesus' last words and use them to give you some practical advice for your marriage.
In Jesus last prayer with His disciples gathered around Him, He prayed out loud to His Father for His believers, “that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:22-23 NKJV)
Jesus wants you to be one with each other and with Him but here's the practical part. In Dr. Phil's book Relationship Rescue he cites a study and says, "…an interesting statistic…reflects that the divorce rate in America is at a minimum one out of two marriages. But the reported divorce rate among couples that pray together is about 1 in ten thousand." Couples that pray together stay together.
There is no other practice that anybody could suggest that would hold this same kind of promise for your relationship to make it for the long haul, not just surviving but thriving. So, just as Jesus did with His disciples, pray out loud together daily.
When Jesus was crucified between two criminals he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 NIV) Always be ready to intercede and forgive. Jesus prayed for the soldiers who crucified, mocked and cast lots for His clothing. When your spouse does something that hurts you, don't try to fix it yourself by taking it into your own hands for revenge, but pray for them and for yourself.
Remember that God has brought you together, that you love each other, and that you are on the same team. Most of the time, if your feelings are hurt, it wasn't intentional. If one of you wins the argument, you still lose because you haven't won anything. You've only built distance between yourself and your mate. Being quick to forgive will be one of the most liberating things you can do for your relationship.
Some of the most incredible words at the crucifixion were spoken when one of the two criminals Jesus was crucified between rebuked the criminal on the other cross who was mocking Jesus saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." He said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." and Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:40-43 NIV) Give each other grace, and practice treating your spouse better than their actions deserve. Love them as unto Christ.
For me the saddest moment for Jesus on the cross was when everything had been covered in darkness for three hours and Jesus cried out saying, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 NIV) The gospel of Luke tells us that after that Jesus cried out, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." (Luke 23:46 NIV) He trusted His Father was still there even when He couldn't sense Him. Even when you are confused in your relationship just as Jesus didn't understand the distance between Him and His Father at that moment, continue to humbly submit to each other in unconditional love. Imagine where we'd be if He hadn't continued on to fulfill His Father's will.
Just before Jesus died He said, "It is finished." (John 19:30 NIV) He bowed His head and died. You would think that death would end the relationship but Jesus sacrifice did something very different. When He died He won the victory over the sin and selfishness that separates us and reconciled us to God. He made the cross a bridge. When we die to self it takes our relationships to a whole different level, He makes it a connection that cannot be ultimately taken away.
On the third day Jesus rose from the grave and according to Matthew's account the first thing he said to those who first saw Him alive was, "Rejoice!" (Matthew 28:9 NIV) REJOICE!!! Remember to celebrate in your relationship with each other. Jesus is alive and well and always enough for you. Continue to praise him in song and dance, in cooking and cleaning and everything. I'm looking forward to hearing the music you will make together as you rejoice in Him.
The next thing Matthew records Him saying is, "Do not be afraid." (Matthew 28:10) Let God's perfect love cast out all your fears for the future, Your future is always bright in Him. Satan will be attacking and he will certainly try to use fear.
Always remember that Jesus is near.
Lastly, Jesus parting words to His disciples, "“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV) Let the love God has poured out into your relationship touch the lives of those God directs you to, it will only make your love grow. Finally, know that Twana and Wesner are never just Twana and Wesner, God will always be with you, pouring out His limitless love, presence and blessings into your life. It is His joy to do so.
Who knows what God will decide you will need next in your relationship with Him. Be ready for anything and continue to seek God first in your lives as individuals and as a couple together and He will use all things to bring you back to Him.
Look out though! You never know when God might decide you need your own personal flower girl or Bible boy in your life 24/7. Enjoy every moment you have.
I love you both.