Santiago & Kate,†Psalm 145 is a song about the kingdom of God, about the majesty of Godís reign, and we know from our vantage even more fully what the psalmist is talking about because Jesus is God with us. Jesus is the perfect image of the invisible God. And He came proclaiming the Kingdom of God.
If the psalmist could erupt in praise every day for the greatness and goodness of God, our King, how much more may we? He sung that this greatness was infectious, spreading from generation to generation, a babble of words that he could not hold back, breaking into poetry, breaking into song. The Lord is gracious! The Lord is good! His tender mercies and His good works cover the earth like blankets of powdery snow, like warm summer rain, like a sweet breeze that just wonít quit. This is Godís Kingdom, His glorious majesty. It is constant, unfailing, unswerving, unblinking. It is like the Sun that rises bright and powerful day after day that cannot be quenched, a fire that cannot be put out. And yet for all this, He is the Faithful Father who holds His childrenís hands, who lifts them up when they fall, and He always has food for them and treats tucked away in His pockets. He is always there. He is always just and righteous. There is no shadow of turning in Him; He always hears when His children cry. He saves those who love Him, and He destroys all the wicked.
You canít not talk about this. You canít not speak about this. You canít not sing about this. The psalmist says that this is the kind of goodness that evokes praise. This is the kind of glory that provokes worship. All flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever. Like the Word that provoked the earth to swell and produce plants and porcupines and people, so too this Word, the Good Word of this Kingdom, the Good News of this King provokes praise, causing faces to shine, and joy to breakout. You canít get this goodness out of your head. You canít shake off this grace.
This is not because God is a tyrant. God doesnít get this glory by demanding it, by squeezing it out of His subjects. No, this is solely by the mysterious power of His perfect love. This unrelenting goodness is Godís love. Herein is love, not that we loved God Ė this goodness did not originate with us. It did not start here. We did not come up with it Ė rather He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. John says that if God so loved us, we ought to also love one another. John is explaining the logic of a passage like Psalm 145. You canít not talk about this. You canít not respond to this.
Yet, so often when we talk to people about Jesus, about Christianity, their objection is that God isnít good. How can there be terrorism and child abuse? How can some go hungry or die of disease if God is so good? The answer is found in Johnís word propitiation. Propitiation means to satisfy, it means to appease, to reconcile. Itís the explanation for how everyone doesnít end up being the wicked that God destroys, and itís our justification for trusting in Godís goodness even in the pain, even in the dark. And this is where all the praise comes from. This is the origin of all gospel joy, all gospel worship. The tender-mercies of our God come on like a choking beauty, like a stunning surprise. How can it be? How is this possible?
This love does not originate in us. We are impatient. We are harsh. We are liars and cowards and control freaks. We have evil thoughts, and sometimes we act on them. The thing about Psalm 145 is that every human should be among the wicked whom God destroys. The wages of sin is death. Sin is rebellion against this goodness. God spun the worlds. God sung this song that we are in. God spoke this goodness. And sin is spitting in His face. Sin is rejecting His glory and demanding to make our own glory, to find our own path, to be our own gods, to be the masters of our own fate. And this is to choose death and sorrow and isolation. But God loved this world anyway. God loved and loved some more, and when we kicked and screamed and wouldnít calm down, He sent His own son to bear the awful curse for our sin. Jesus endured the separation that we signed up for, the sorrow that we asked for, the isolation that we demanded to be given. And when He died, there was no curse left. Like the venom of a cobra, He absorbed it all for us. And when He screamed with His final gasping breath Ė It is finished! It was truly finished. And now the wicked begin to wake up from the spell of sin and death. The sun comes out from behind the clouds and the trance is lifted, the curse is undone, and men and women and children begin to live again for the first time.
But John says, if God has so loved us, we ought to love one another. If it was really like that, then we canít not love one another. Love is not a feeling you get. Itís not a flushed face. Itís a lamb slaughtered. Itís a bloody mess. Itís a man with spikes driven into His hands and feet for the sake of His people, for the sake of His bride. This is the love of the Kingdom of God. This is where the Goodness of God comes from. This is what sends His people heedless into danger. Itís what sends them joyful to suffering. And itís what calls out praise from even the deepest moments of darkness.
Santiago and Kate, today God reminds you of His great love for you. You are surrounded by generations of Christians who have been caught up in this love, in this goodness, and they have shared it with you. It is a love that they have embodied for you by their sacrifices, by their selflessness, by their courage and patience and prayers. This love did not originate with them, but because they had been loved, they loved you. They laid their lives down for you, and this means that you must not miss the fact that you are standing on a bloody ground. Of course Jesus is your Savior; itís the blood of Jesus that cleanses you from all sin. But Jesus has been pleased to have a body called the Church and therefore we always stand in a great cloud of witnesses. We stand in a company of martyrs, both those who have literally lost their lives for the sake of Jesus and those who have poured out their lives in His service.
Santiago, you are summonsed today to take up this mantle for Kate. Kate, you are summonsed to this calling for Santiago. And the Bible gives you each particular tasks as a husband and a wife. Santiago, you are called to lead Kate by imitating the Lord Jesus in His leadership of the Church. Jesus did not come and assert His authority, commanding obedience by some fiat, by a faceless decree. No, He came and humbled Himself and became a servant, giving up His rights, even to the point of a shameful, cursed death. Let this mind be in you, Santiago. As this was the path to the glory of Jesus, so always remember that there is no other glory for you.
Kate, you are called to submit to Santiago as the Church submits to Christ. But this is no pagan subservience. This is actually another way of imitating Jesus Himself. This is a great and mysterious power that you wield as a woman made in Godís image. It is not the power of this world that grasps with words and fists. Itís the power of a quiet and gracious spirit, trusting fully in the goodness of your God. This is your beauty; this is your glory. And it is most precious in the sight of God.
In both instances, you are called to die. You are each called to give yourselves away, to give up your rights, to love and serve each other. But this is not a cruel calling. This is grace. And you know this because this is how you got here today. You are both standing here because of this grace, the grace of sacrificial love, the grace that you canít not talk about. This is grace with a sharp edge, beauty on a bloody ground, and today you both are covered in it.
May your new home be built in the same place, to a thousand generations.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.