（Kurt Lantz著，任不寐 译）
My song is love unknown, My Saviour’s love to me/Love to the loveless shown That they might lovely be./Oh, who am I That for my sake/My Lord should take Frail flesh and die? (LW 91)
*耶利米书 31:31-34 耶和华说，日子将到，我要与以色列家和犹大家另立新约，不像我拉着他们祖宗的手，领他们出埃及地的时候，与他们所立的约。我虽作他们的丈夫，他们却背了我的约。这是耶和华说的。耶和华说，那些日子以后，我与以色列家所立的约乃是这样，我要将我的律法放在他们里面，写在他们心上。我要作他们的神，他们要作我的子民。他们各人不再教导自己的邻舍和自己的弟兄说，你该认识耶和华，因为他们从最小的到至大的都必认识我。我要赦免他们的罪孽，不再记念他们的罪恶。这是耶和华说的。
SERMON:A MARRIAGE TOAST (JER. 31:31-34)*
Dear guests of the bridegroom, assembled to celebrate the blessed union: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Welcome to the Reception
The ceremony is complete and you honoured guests have been invited to share in the joy of this occasion. As we anticipate the great feast we are about to receive, please allow me to say a few words to mark this most memorable day.
It was a beautiful ceremony and there is no doubt, for we have all witnessed, that the bride and the bridegroom have been joined together before God. Nothing was omitted. The rite was full of wonderful imagery, heartfelt words, gracious promises, and the authoritative voice of God sealing the union. And “what God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”
At this time I think it is appropriate for us to remember the long road that brought the bride and bridegroom to this time and place where they now enjoy the blessings of the indissoluble union into which they have now come.
Although love was there from the beginning, it has been a hard journey filled with worry, tears and heartache. It was not all joy. It was not all roses and white gowns. But it was a journey of love between these two that has resulted in the grand celebration we are privileged to participate in this day.
Not Like the Old Covenant
We would not only be kidding ourselves but also proclaiming outright deceitful lies if we were to pretend that the history of this relationship consisted of nothing but faithful adoration of each one for the other.Honestly, that is far from the truth. For faithfulness was not present in both parties in the beginning. One party was unfaithful. Infidelity threatened to tear these two apart for ever. It is not a fairy tale story but one full of the hard truth and reality of mankind’s sin.
But at first there was a wonderful rescue. The bridegroom heroically delivered His bride from the most desperate of situations. She was in dire condition indeed. The lovely and joyously happy bride you see today was dejected and depressed, trapped in an abusive relationship, and had all but given up hope of the dream of living a blessed life, loved by One who would always look out for her, protect her, take care of her, and make her life worth living.
Then when the smouldering wick of hope had almost lost its glow, He came to fan alive the flames of faith. As a knight in shining armour He carried her away from her tormentors. He delivered her from oppression and abuse to show her true love and affection. Her sorrow was turned to joy, herweeping into dancing, and her despair into delight.
Yet it was hard for her to adjust to this new relationship, so different from anything she had experienced before. She was not used to having her every need provided. She did not know what love was. She did not know how to receive it or to give it. And so towards her rescuer she became demanding. She was not content with the things He provided for her. She complained about the way He showed His love for her.
And finally it happened. We would like to say it was unthinkable although I’m sure that we are all thinking it. Nevertheless it must be mentioned, not to slander the name of this pure bride before us, but to let you all know what a wondrous love there is between this couple now.
She was unfaithful to Him. Although He rescued her from the most deplorable conditions, provided for her every need, pledged Himself to her and her alone, she turned away from Him and gave herself to others. And not just one other, but many others. She gave them what should have been given to Him alone. Although He was faithful, she broke their first union.That is why we find ourselves here today celebrating another union between this bridegroom and His beloved bride.
Signed on the Heart
Many people will say that these things should not be retold, especially at the wedding reception. I have to disagree. I think these things are most important for us all to know. It is essential that you understand that this union did not start off with a perfect love. It is necessary for us all to remember that unfaithfulness can be forgiven, that a broken union can be resealed, that a scorned husband can still pledge His love to the bride who has forsaken Him and win again for Himself the love she had given to others.
For that is how this seemingly irreconcilable couple has come to be the picture of wedded love and bliss for us today. He waited patiently for the right time. He allowed her once again to fall into despair. This time it was not despair from others abusing her, but despair from her knowledge that she had abused herself. She came to realize that her sin had spotted and stained her, that she had lost her purity, that she had turned away from the one true love that ever there was.
When the hour had come He lifted Himself up before her in order to draw her to Himself. Once again He demonstrated His love for her in incomparable terms. He again heroically rescued her from her despair. This time He did not deliver her from an outside oppression, but from the enemy within her. He took away her shame and disgrace. He cleansed her of every impurity. He adorned her for Himself, having taken away every spot and stain of her adulterous sin.
Now she knows what love is, how to receive it and how to give it. For she has not only seen with her eyes the great deliverance He has provided; now she feels it in her heart. For He has touched her that deeply with this new act of love. He has reached to her very soul with His new pledge. No longer will she need to be taught what love is. Now she knows, for now she truly knows Him.
Did you pay attention to the words of the song she composed for thiscelebration?
My song is love unknown, My Saviour’s love to me,
Love to the loveless shown That they might lovely be.
Oh, who am I That for my sake
My Lord should take Frail flesh and die? (LW 91)
So it is that today we gather to celebrate a union without end. Here is the bride perfectly loved by her bridegroom. He has forgiven her every act of unfaithfulness and that has made her faithful. She fittingly stands before us robed in pure white to reflect that her every spot and stain has been taken away in the love of her husband. She knows His great love and she will flee from every form of evil and cling to His loving embrace for evermore.
So I ask all of you present (angels, archangels, all the company of heaven), and especially you most beloved bride, to laud and magnify the most glorious name of the bridegroom, who has established a new covenant with His bride, sealed it with His blood and the cross, and bidden us here to celebrate the eternal union of Christ and His Church.
O bride, let us in a few moments raise a cup and drink in remembrance of the great love of the bridegroom for us, as we even now receive His inestimable grace and forgiveness and anxiously await the consummation of this new covenant.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.