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Ephesians 5:22-33


Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.


Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (ESV)

The Gift That Keeps on Receiving

Tuesday of Epiphany 5

11 February 2014

Bride and groom belong together. Church and Christ belong together. The relationship between bride and groom is a picture of the true communion of Christ with His bride, the church. Bride and groom are joined in "heart, body, and mind" when God joins them in holy marriage. It is the most intimate union and human relation; none is closer than marriage.


Christ has given Himself up for His bride, though she is unworthy of His love and sacrifice for her. But still he wants her, though she has nothing in her that commends her to His passion for her. He is for her, heart and soul, body and life. Their union changes everything for her. He has made her an honest woman by offering Himself to her. With Him come all the riches of His kingdom. Every gift and blessing become hers because when they exchange vows of love and fidelity she confers on Him all her sin and filth, poverty and weakness, and He confers on her His holiness, beauty, kingdom, and strength: his is hers and hers his. This "blessed exchange" is like the chorus girl who marries the tycoon, going from infamy and poverty to fame and riches. She brings nothing and gains the world.


All of this is sealed by faith, which is the sign of all that is given and received. This is why Luther says, "Faith is the engagement ring which promises us to Christ." How beautiful this picture is to the bride of Christ. For the seal of the union between Christ and His bride is one which he gives to her, slipping it onto a finger caked with the filth of her misdeeds. The very seal of their union is a precious gift from the Groom. Faith is that gift which receives the gifts. It is the gift that keeps on receiving.


Martin Luther


"Christ became our Bridegroom through faith. The devil attacks this article of faith in thousands of ways in order to destroy it. But he will still have to let bride and Groom remain together; and this happens by faith alone. Faith is the engagement ring which promises us to Christ. By faith we take hold of Christ, saying to Him: 'You alone ascended above.' As He said earlier: 'No one has ascended into heaven but He who descended from heaven' (Jn 3:13).


"This article of faith, that Christ is our Lord, is what makes us Christians. It is the jewel, the gem, and the golden chain around the neck of the bride, who believes that Christ is true God from eternity, that He descended from heaven and became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and that He, and no other, ascended again into heaven. Thus He was declared the Son of God (Rm 1:4), and He sits at the right hand of His heavenly Father. This is most certainly true, apart from all appearances to the contrary. For if Christ were not seated at the right hand of His Father, this article of faith would never have come down to us; nor would it have been possible for this article to maintain itself against the constant opposition of so many kings and tyrants in the world."


Martin Luther, Sermons on John, 3.14


Lord Christ, You have redeemed Your bride the church with Your precious blood, sealing her salvation through the gift of faith. Help us to live in the fruitfulness of Your love, that we too might share Your love with those who do not know You as the merciful and gracious Lord. Amen.


For Emma Kibiki, who is with child and whose due date is drawing near, that the Lord, who embraces children, would be with her and her baby, granting a safe delivery


For Joel Green, who was bereaved of his wife, Lydia, that he would comforted by the precious promises of the risen Christ


For those who have not heard the gospel of Christ, that they might be freed from their bondage to the law

Art: MEMLING, Hans  Adoration of the Magi (c. 1470)

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