This sermon is part of the sermon series "A Messy, Blessed Life". See series.
Some wedding requests pose a dilemma for pastors. Most of us will not officiate at a wedding between a believer and an unbeliever, believing it violates Scripture. But should we perform a wedding for two unbelievers? I will do that, but there is always a point early in the premarital counseling where I tell the couple that something will be missing from their ceremony. "I cannot give you God's blessing," I tell them. That always gets their attention! I go on to explain that their guests will probably not notice anything is missing and that I won't do anything to draw attention to it, but when I pronounce them husband and wife, I will not add the phrase, "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." It means there will be no benediction, for a benediction is God's blessing.
Because this catches many off guard, I offer the reason: I can't give them God's blessing because they haven't positioned themselves to receive it. God's blessing is for those who love and serve him through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
It is always interesting to see the response when I say that. A few couples seem a bit offended, but more often than not, I get no response. Maybe they're just being polite or keeping their feelings to themselves, but as long as I'll do the wedding and not embarrass them, they don't seem to care. In fact, I often get the sense they don't even understand what the big deal is. They'd be far more upset if I didn't allow photographers!
Do you think having God's blessing is a big deal? I can't imagine there's anyone who wouldn't want God's blessing if it was offered, but how significant would it be to you if someone told you it was out of your grasp?
As we have studied the life of Jacob, we ...
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Lee Eclov recently retired after 40 years of local pastoral ministry and now focuses on ministry among pastors. He is the author of Feels Like Home: How Rediscovering the Church as Family Changes Everything and Pastoral Graces: Reflections on the Care of Souls (Moody Publishers), as well as being a frequent contributor to Preaching Today and CT Pastors. To learn more about his Pastors' Gatherings visit www.leeeclov.com.