This week my beautiful wife and I celebrated our anniversary. It was number 42… I think. While I sometimes have a hard time remembering the number of years I NEVER forget the calendar date! Usually I’m not real good with dates…I can’t even remember my own kids’ birthdays! (Except for one because he was born on Friday the 13th and all my students wanted me to name him Jason.) I’m not great with numbers either. When a school I taught at asked if I would sub for other teachers when they needed a break, I told them I would sub for any class except math. (Guess where they often ended up putting me anyway!) The congregation I now serve would concur; the council constantly reminds each other, “If you need help you can always go to Pastor, but NEVER let him near numbers or finance! He’s an arithmetic train wreck waiting to happen.”
I am so fortunate to serve a congregation that understands me and is willing to work around my weaknesses. I am also fortunate to live in the era of “gadgets” that remind you of important dates and times…but even those fail you if you don’t enter in the information in the first place. (Just ask the editor of this paper how often I forget which Friday is the deadline for this article… thank goodness she is a better reminder than all my devices!)
With regard to time and hours, my wife would be the first one to tell you that when I become engrossed in a project or idea I can lose all track of time, often not coming back up for air until the morning dawn sneaking through my office window reminds me I never went to bed the night before. (Not a pretty picture when I come into the bedroom to change clothes when she is just getting up to prepare for work.)
So, back to our anniversary: In spite of my attention deficit in the area of numbers, dates, and time, I will NEVER forget our anniversary. I’ve seen too many movies and TV shows where the husband forgets the anniversary…Working all night is NOTHING compared to forgetting the day you made the most important promise of your life to the most important person in your life! To quote a line from an old blues song, “Boy, she was angry!”- “Have you ever seen a five foot two swing a two by four?- Boy! She was angry!”
Well, I’ve never seen Patty THAT angry…and I never want to! But fear of her anger is not what compels me to overcome my “date deficit”. If it is fear at all it is fear that she might think that I do not care about this most important occasion, or worse, that I might not care about “us”. I could not bear to hurt her with that thought. What happened on that day 42 years ago was too important to ALL the days of our marriage to ever forget. On that day I promised to “love, cherish, and care for her above all others, in sickness or in health, for richer or poorer, for better or for worse, as long as we both shall live.” On that day she truly became the most important person in my life on this whole planet. On that day two people (bride and groom) promised to each other before all the world (and Heaven too) to allow God to bind each to the other as one, and thus live sacrificially loving each other and putting each other first compared to self. On that day “I” became “we”… or even “you”.
In Matthew 19, Jesus quotes Genesis when He says this about marriage:
“…at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
So marriage (far from being some sort of arbitrary societal invention designed to hold women or men in bondage to meaningless social mores) is actually an invention of God; a gift from Him to man and woman to make them more complete in love and care for each other than if He did not unite the two into “one flesh.” It is the deepest, most selfless love that can be found in creation. The Bible calls it “Agape” love.
In fact, marriage as God designed it (and as we can live it if we trust in His ability to truly lovingly bind us together) is even more. Saint Paul writes this about marriage in Ephesians 5:
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
As gracious as God is to give husband and wife to each other to cherish, love, and care for each other, He is more gracious to give Himself to the Church. God the Son (the groom) shows the depth of His sacrificial love for His bride, the church (all who allow Him to love and care for them) by sacrificing even His life so that His beloved bride should live. In fact, He lovingly gave up His life for all who did NOT love Him; even hated Him (and such were all who, by God’s grace, have eventually been wed to Christ through faith the Holy Spirit creates in them) so that we could know the depth of His love for us…and even become united to Him and His loving and caring embrace for all eternity.
I will NEVER forget the anniversary of God making Patty and I one in sacrificial love so deep I could never fully express or explain it. Even as I am at a loss for words at this wonderful gift of her love that He has given me, so even more can I not plumb the depths of His love for me and for her…and for YOU!
Rev. Nick Wirtz is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church at 2750 Mogollon Dr. in Overgaard, AZ and can be reached at (323) 717-4390. Pastor Nick resides in Overgaard with his wife Patricia. He has spent over 20 years as a pastor in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod with most of that time spent in bi-lingual (English-Spanish) ministry. He also serves on the board of the local Salvation Army as an advisor, and as Chaplain for Post 86 American Legion Riders. He’s also known to be seen pickin’ a little guitar around town from time to time.