A sermon for the Requiem Mass for Deacon Melody Crabb.
The story of the Bible is a love story. It is a story of how our LORD has created this world for us to live in, and how he desires to have a relationship with us.
This is the Good News, that God wants us to live in a covenant relationship with us, in faithfulness.
Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to the people in terms they could understand. His used parables to communicate about the Kingdom of Heaven. He often used the Jewish marriage customs of his day to demonstrate his plan for his earthly visit.
The one we heard today involved his father’s house.
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
The life of the family was very different in Jesus’ time than it is today. We are a mobile society. Family members moved away from each other to pursue careers, or to experience new places and meet new people. In Jesus’ day, families stayed together. A man needed children to establish his family, to help him farm the land, cultivate the flocks and herds, and leave a legacy for his descendants.
When it was time for a young man to marry, his father would seek out a bride for him. In the tribal society of the day, the bride would have to come from within the tribe of that family. Once a suitable bride was found, there was a betrothal, a marriage contract. Once that was accomplished the prospective bridegroom would return to his father’s house, and depending on that house, he would build a house for his bride, or he would build a room onto his father’s house.
We heard about his Father’s house in our Gospel reading today.
After a period of time, perhaps a year, the bridegroom would go to her and take her to her new home. The bride did not know exactly when the bridegroom would come, so the bridesmaids had to have oil in their lamps in case he came at night. Jesus told the parable of these bridesmaid in Matthew chapter 25.
The groom’s father would prepare a marriage feast for his son and daughter in law. That parable is in Matthew 22. “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.” In that parable, those who were invited did not come, so others were invited to come instead.
Wedding feasts were big events back in the day. Sometimes they would last for several days, and there had to be plenty of food and wine for the guests. The wedding at Cana was a good illustration of this. When the wine began to run out, Jesus turned the water in to wine. Laurie and I got to renew our wedding vows in Cana in January. It was the most memorable part of the trip for me.
In the Gospel according to St. Mark, Jesus tells us about his plan for marriage:
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
This marriage refers to human marriage, but also for his marriage plans for his bride. When we are joined to Christ as his bride, we become one body with him. We become the body of Christ, his church.
The marriage feast prepared for us was revealed to St. John the Divine, in the Revelation, chapter 19.
6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
In St. John 14:6, we heard how St. Thomas was unsure of the way to the Father’s house.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Some have foolishly said that it would put God in a small box to limit the ways to salvation. That misses the point completely. How can Jesus be the only way to the Father?
Think about this; In every other religion in this world, the faithful must work to reach up to God, by way of their righteousness. It is impossible for man to ascend to the heights of heaven were God is. Very few have any hope of ever being with God. Sinners would have no hope at all.
Christianity is the only religion that makes the claim that God came down to earth to seek out his faithful followers. He came to earth to find a bride. The bride he found was not pure and undefiled, though. He found imperfect sinners for his bride, then he washed us clean with his blood. He then went home to his father to prepare a place for us, and will return for us on the great last day, and take us to himself. So, yes, he is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Melody has now gone to be with her Lord. She lived a life of service to her country, her patients and to us. She is now at the marriage feast with our Lord, singing Hallelujah for the Lord God almighty reigns. Now she is praying for us with the communion of saints that we too will one day follow our Lord to the feast.
Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Amen.