Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine

Tomorrow Sunday, September 15th and Today (Saturday the 14th) at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine: “What about the Lost?” (Luke 15:1-10) and today (Saturday, September 14th) Danielle my dear daughter gets married to Simon!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Let us gather around the Word and Sacrament of the Lord Jesus Christ tomorrow morning to receive the forgiveness of sins once again and to have our faith fed and nourished so that we may share Jesus’ joy and love to those God has put in our lives!
Too often God is depicted in popular imagery as a cosmic kill-joy and when His true advocates live for him they too must become so austere and disciplined in religious mandates that they inevitably lose all joy and compassion. These images do NOT represent the Christian faith…they’re not even in the same galaxy of what it means to belong to Jesus!
The True God pursues that which is lost. The True God desires to bring joy to those confronted with being confounded. The True God wills to give peace and restoration to those who are broken. The True God assigns the angels in heaven to rejoice over the lost soul who comes to know — by God’s grace — Jesus’ love and restoration. God seeks the lost to perpetuate joy and celebration.
In the same way, He calls us and never gives up on us who know something about being lost in sin. Come and receive His grace once again to rejoice that He has found you for salvation and for joy!
ALSO, today I will conduct my daughter’s wedding (my precious Danielle who marries seminarian Simon Volkmar today). Yes, we need love in marriage, but we also need to know our God-given roles as taught in Ephesians 5. Here is the sermon:

Wives…Submit; Hubands…Sacrifice (Eph. 5:22-33)

By Rev. Espinosa

            Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. And may the Lord pour out a double portion of His blessings upon you Simon and  you Danielle as you go forth in holy matrimony as husband and wife in the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

            Of all my children – and those who are married have had and have very high standards – nevertheless, I’ve always felt that you Danielle might be the most particular. I‘ve often thought to myself that you would have a hard time finding the right guy. But ever since you were a little baby girl, I prayed that the Lord would send you a faithful Christian man. Well the Lord answered my prayer (and your prayer Danielle) and sent you Simon who is not only a man of true faith in the Lord who desires to dedicate his life to the service of the Gospel of Jesus, but a man who has in my estimation the perfect temperment for my Danielle.

            Simon, I’ve never been able to properly express myself to you about how I feel — and I know that we Latinos are more emotional than you good Germans — but I can’t begin to tell you how much love and admiration I have for you. You are truly perfect for Danielle. You have a high IQ, but also an  exquisite EQ demonstrated by your ability to understand people and to be exceptionally considerate. You have a servant’s heart. You respect your elders and you assume the best construction. You are witty, and yet humble; you are bold, and yet do not take yourself too seriously. You have a wonderful sense of humor while also possesing a diamond-like purity in your desire to know and to be faithful to the Word of the Lord.

            In other words, my answer to people who ask me the question, But isn’t it hard for you that Danielle is moving 6000 miles away to Germany? is simple: When the Lord sends the right man, then distance does not matter. You are the right man for Danielle so I know that everything else will be alright.

            I think you’re perfect for Danielle, and I know that she is perfect for you. You will balance each other out and together make a formidable team in serving in the Kingdom of God and in fighting against forces which are contrary to the truth.

            But in spite of the supposed wisdom of the Beatles back in the day when they sang the song All You Need Is Love, and even contrary to poor interpretations of 1st Corinthians chapter 13 – the Love Chapter in the Bible (and yes while we certainly need love) — we also need to be clear about it’s application. We need to understand that God has indeed called you to love each other all of your days, but He has also called you to know how you fit together, how you’ll function together, how you will complement each other, and the respective roles you are called to live in.

            Yes, both of you are to love and to worship and to forgive, but you are also to be — Simon — what only a husband can and should be; and you are also to be — Danielle — what only a wife can and should be.

            Without getting into a theological dissertation, I am going to try to be very practical about all of this and very simple: In Ephesians 5 the role of the wife towards her husband is to be in emulation of the Holy Church and the role of the husband is to be in emulation of the Holy Savior.

            So let me say that while there is a reason that St. Paul begins with wives first, let me also point out that this does not mean that it is always Ladies‘ First. Many relationships (not all, as friendships are side-by-side), but many relationships require a leader. So let me share with you what most of our politically-correct world is afraid to say anymore: Simon, you need to be the leader. Jesus is our leader. He is our Savior, but He is also our Shepherd; He is the Lover of our soul, but He is also our King. He leads. And what I want to emphasize about this is that when there is problem, when the sheep get themselves into trouble (like when humanity fell in the Garden), Jesus in His leadership doesn’t wait around and deliberate who should take the initiative to fix things. No, we are saved and we are protected precisely because the Leader who is the true Leader goes first.

            If you get into argument, Simon go first towards reconcilation; if you feel stress in the family, Simon go first towards bringing a sense of calm and safe-haven; if you feel confusion, Simon go first in leading your family to call on the name of the Lord. Be a leader. But don’t be one alone and in isolation. When you become a good Lutheran pastor, even then have a Father-Confessor, have a pastor for yourself, so that you can always be a leader who is himself fed and nourished. Be fed through the same office that you will serve in, so that you receive strength to lead. Take the first step, deny yourself, take up your cross, be tender, and gentle, and loving towards your wife, and lead by following Jesus. This leadership is not harsh, but it is sacrificial and it goes first. Jesus put His Bride before Himself and took the initiative to save her by dying for her and covering all of our sins on the cross with His blood. We’re saved and we’re forgiven by God, because Jesus took the lead! That’s the model for the husband Simon and it is powerful!

            Danielle, be like the Holy Church, the Bride of Christ! The dynamic described in Ephesians 5 is that when you have a husband who is committed to laying down his life for you; when he lives to lead through sacrificial service to his wife, then give this man what the Word says: respect and submission (even when he has entered a moment or even a season when it might be tempting to think he doesn’t deserve it). Now here’s the thing about this state of affairs: your submission has nothing to do with a tyranical slavery. This Word from the Lord describes the willful submission of the bride. Just think of what it’s like to be a Christian: We don’t moan and groan and say, We gotta! But rather we rejoice in the Lord who pours out His love upon us – even in those seasons that we might have difficulty seeing it – and we go forth not because We gotta! But because We get to! And by the Spirit’s leading, we choose to. By God’s grace, we are willing to submit to Him!

            We have the high honor as Christians of serving the Lord who renews our wills to choose to follow Him. We are free and are simply called not to use our freedom in a bad way, but to use our freedom in a good way.

            And here’s the good way when it comes to marriage: While wives thrive on tender, loving care, the husband is designed to thrive on respect and support from his wife. The man who believes that his wife is always for him is encouraged and strengthened to do whatever needs to be done for the good of the marriage and for the family. Husbands derive a mysterious and yet tangible power from their wives. The wife is able to lift up her husband in ways that only she can. And if the husband knows that his wife is on his side, lifting him up, stroking his pride (in a good way), respecting him, encouraging him, then he derives an energy that paves a road which includes the ability to continue to lead with a sacrificial love.

            That’s the plan; the roadmap; the relationship dynamic that spells success in a marriage, but one last thing: you’re not going to be the perfect example of these things. You will falter and you will drop the ball along the way. You won’t always do it right. When this happens, run to Church together. Get absolution; get the Supper; get forgiven and then share that forgiveness with one another. I am utterly convinced that the Lord in His infinite wisdom permits the difficulties in marriage so that we become more and more like Jesus. So that it becomes more important in our marriages to forgive than to be the perfect couple.

            Get forgiven, get back on track. SACRIFICE for Danielle Simon; SUBMIT to Simon Danielle. And when you tire and stumble, get forgiven again…share that forgiveness…and start all over again. The Lord has blessed you and He will continue to do so. In Jesus‘ Name. Amen!

In Jesus’ Love,
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