The reading Linda has asked me to read is the account of the sixth day of creation : After five days of preparation over millions of years there is the creation of mammals. "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle (cows, sheep, deer) and creeping things (rabbits, squirrels, dogs, cats) And wild animals of every kind" (lions, tigers, elephants, grizzly bears)" But with humans a quite new vision appears. "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness. So God created human kind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:24-27).
But what has this animal creation got to do with our joyful wedding celebration? Well obviously the other mammals manage their marriage very well without coming to church. They know exactly what to do by the instincts built into their genes. In our family we had a white cat named Nika. For every litter of kittens she would choose a mate. She usually chose a white Tom cat from the park. He had long silky hair, and over eleven years she gave us 32 beautiful white kittens. She knew exactly how to have sex without ever going to health classes at school.
Ten days before the kittens were due she got the nest ready in a quiet corner of the house. My wife Mollie was trained as a nurse midwife, but Nika never needed her help in delivering the babies. Nika also knew how to nurse them. Apparently there are nine hundred ingredients needed for milk, and her instincts produced exactly the right chemical formula. Then she trained her kittens to play and fight, and exercise their curiosity, so they were ready to go out into the world.
Now obviously it is possible for humans to manage their marriages with the same instincts that cats and other mammals have. And there is nothing wrong with our natural instincts. But Linda and Michael have come to church to commit themselves to a quality of marriage which God has in mind for humans. "Let us make humans in our image . . . male and female he created them." And since God is love, and he wants us to be in his image, the purpose of Christian marriage is to explore God's kind of love.
When Jesus came into our world he had the same kind of instincts that we have. But he also helped us to see what being in the image of God could be like. He knew how to forgive when he was hurt. He even loved his enemies and those that others rejected. He cared about people who were not his own race, and nation, and family. And he prayed for those in need. He taught us to be thankful. Worship means worthship, and that includes appreciating God's creation, and the worth and creativiy of others. That gives us a vision of what it could mean to love the way God loves.
We already have the instincts that we need for survival. But we are
also given the freedom to explore and enjoy God's kind of life. In a moment,
after signing the register, we will be praying for Linda and Michael, and
for our own families, and the marriages of our friends. We are created
to be in the image of God, and God is willing to take us in hand and make
that gloriously possible.