This weekend, I had the incredible honor of performing the wedding ceremony for my little sister. Below is the wedding ceremony for Mr. & Mrs. Blake & Amber Scallan.
Welcome & Charge to the Congregation
Friends and family, on behalf of the bride and groom, it is my delight and privilege to welcome you to this wedding ceremony of Amber Faith Shelton and Blake Aaron Scallan. This ceremony is a very serious occasion, but it is also a very happy occasion. And most importantly, this ceremony is a worship service.
You see, friends, God is about to act. Just now, before your eyes a man and a woman have entered this gathering as two, but before we are done here, they will be one. Man and wife. Husband and bride. This is the Lord’s doing.
Marriage is from God, and marriage is about God. Specifically, marriages are intended to illustrate the relationship between Jesus Christ and his bride, the church. Writing to the Ephesian church about husbands and wives, the apostle Paul says: This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Eph 5:32) And I don’t say this to cheapen this wedding ceremony, but rather to raise the stakes of what is happening here in our estimation.
Friends, the storyline of the bible begins with a marriage, and also ends with a wedding: [Rev 19:7–8] 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; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
So we are expecting God to do a marvelous thing in our midst this evening. And while we are gathered here in the presence of God, witnesses to His decisive work bringing these two together, we remember that this wedding and all weddings are about Him. So let us stand now, and commit this service to Him as we worship together in song.
Giving of the Bride & Charge to the Families
Jesus answered the Pharisees, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matt 19:4-6)
Who gives this woman to be married to this man?
[Father & mother of the bride rise]
Father: Her mother and I do.
Would the parents of the groom please rise as well? I would like to take a moment and address the two families that are here today, represented by these two sets of parents standing here before us now.
In the very first pages of Scripture, we see an account of the first wedding of man and wife, when the Lord God fashions a woman out of the rib of the man and gives her to him. We see the very first song, as Adam cries out “At last! Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!” But in the next verse we also see the very first teaching in the Bible, as the narrator stops telling us the story and addresses the reader directly: Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Gen 2:24)
I want to draw the families’ attention to one principle from this teaching, and that is simply this: as a result of this wedding today, the fabric of your family will be forever changed. Loyalties are being redrawn at a fundamental level, as these two leave their family bonds as secondary, now to become one flesh with each other. And here is what that means for you today: You are losing a son or a daughter to receive back a son and a daughter. The loyalty to your son or your daughter is being replaced by a commitment to the one flesh union God is creating here today.
Shelton family, you are no longer committed to Amber’s welfare alone, but to the strength and well being of her marriage and covenant commitments to Blake. And should sin ever creep in and threaten the unity of this marriage, you no longer get to take her side against her husband so as to threaten the bond made here today.
Scallan family, the same applies to you. Should sin ever creep in to threaten the commitments made here today, your duty as witnesses this day binds you to hold this marriage in honor. You are no longer loyal to Blake, but you are loyal to Blake & Amber, together.
Scripture Reading: 1 John 4:7–21
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Charge to the Bride & Groom
Blake and Amber, this is your wedding day! And what a beautiful day it is. There are so many things going through your mind right now, but for the next few minutes, I want to open God’s word with you, and apply this beautiful text you have selected to your marriage, which begins this evening. The world is desperate to understand true love: it’s the subject of nearly every book, movie, and television series in our culture. And this passage from 1 John tells us a lot about true love. My message to you has two parts: (1) True Love Defined and (2) True Love Enabled. It’s my prayer right now that through my preaching of the word, the Lord will strengthen your faith, and plant seeds that bear true love fruit for many years to come.
First, we see true love defined in v. 9: In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. True love does not hoard and take, but it reaches out and serves. God loved the world, and so he sent out his son Jesus, so we could live with him.
We also see true love defined in v. 10: In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. God’s true love for us did not wait for an invitation, and it was not a reaction to our worthiness. God loved us even when we did not love him. John uses a big word here: propitiation. That word means punishment-absorbing. Jesus’s love was a wrath-sponge. So true love, Christ-like love, saw the punishment that we deserved and said, “Take me instead.” You see when Adam and his wife sinned, and God asked Adam about what he did, he pointed his finger at his wife and said, “It was her fault.” Jesus, our true and better Adam, does the opposite. He saw the punishment his bride deserved, and said, “Take me instead.” This is true love.
When you sin against one another, and you will sin against one another, and you see your husband or wife standing there as guilty, and deserving of your wrath, remember that Jesus has already absorbed the punishment they deserve. Let me be clear here, I am not telling you to forgive one another with cheap words and cheap grace. Sin is serious, and wrath is right. But you are Christians. And you have tasted and seen the true love described in this passage. Amber, you cannot be the propitiation for Blake’s sins, but Jesus already is. Blake, you cannot be the propitiation for Amber’s sins, but Jesus already is. There will be moments in your marriage that you will feel wronged, and cheap words of forgiveness will not last, and will not satisfy. But because of the true love of Jesus, you can reach out with true grace. The account has already been settled, and that is the good news of the gospel.
So we have seen true love defined, and I have given you a picture of what it looks like, but I haven’t really told you how you are going to do it. For that we need to move to the second part.
Second, we see true love enabled. Four times in this passage, we are told that God abides in us. We could spend hours unpacking these verses together, but there are vows to make and a feast to enjoy. So how does true love work in this passage? Is there anything unique about true love between Christians? I think the answer is clear: because you have the Holy Spirit, you have God’s own love living in you, and so you can love another with the same love that God has shown you.
Listen to vs. 11-12: Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. The kind of true love that I described just a moment ago is impossible to manufacture within yourself. Because, it depends completely on knowing that the debts have already been paid. And so when John says, “We also ought to love one another” it is a conditional statement: IF God so loved us.
But here is the good news: God has so loved us. You are both recipients of God’s true love for you in Christ, and so you have that love abiding in you. You carry it with you when you lie down and when you stand up, when you go out and when you come in. You are an adopted son and an adopted daughter of the King, and so you are enabled to extend that same kind of true love, because you have it living in you. John says it very succinctly in v. 19, We love because he first loved us.
Your marriage will be a testing and proving ground for the love God has shown you in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. John says:  If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. So for the rest of your lives together, you have an opportunity to put your love for God to the test, and watch it bear fruit as you practice it and perfect it. Your calling as a Christian has not fundamentally changed, but you have a very clear direction to aim it now.
Blake, your calling to biblical manhood, to protect and provide, is not changing today, but you now have a clear target. You are to love, and protect, and provide for Amber. Your love for God, who you cannot see, is proven every day as you love Amber, who you will see every day.
Amber, your calling to biblical womanhood, to nurture and support, is not changing today, but you now have very clear marching orders for who is to be the primary recipient of your nurture and support: Blake. Your love for God, who you cannot see, will be made real to you every day as you love your husband.
John tells us,  By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of His Spirit. This true love that I have described to you, is empowered by the Holy Spirit. His work producing love in you for one another will confirm your calling and election in Christ daily as you live out your wedding vows toward one another.
But before you pledge your true love to one another, let us all stand together, and worship the God who has loved us deeply, because he is the source of your love for one another.
How Deep the Father’s Love For Us
Exchange of Vows & Rings
Blake and Amber, the time has come now to make your covenant commitments to one another. As you make these vows, we know that you are trusting on the grace of God and the power of His Holy Spirit to enable you to honor these commitments, and to extend true-love forgiveness when you fall short of your promises.
Father in heaven,
We are astounded at your goodness in bringing these two together. We ask now for your blessing to be upon Blake and Amber as they begin their life together as husband and wife.
Give Blake the mind of Christ, which is his in Christ Jesus, that he would consider Amber more significant than himself, daily following in Christ’s example by loving and cherishing his bride. Give him wisdom to lead his family in righteousness, and continue growing him into a man of character and integrity. Guard his affections, and make him a one-woman man. May his love for you be manifest in his love for Amber all the days of their life together.
Give Amber a disposition of grace and humble submission to her husband, always entrusting herself to you as she follows Blake’s headship in their marriage. Keep her affections pure and devoted to her husband. May she be his helpmate and constant encourager, and may her love for you be made public in her love for Blake all the days of their life together.
And Father, we ask that you would be pleased to bless them with godly children. May their home be filled with warmth and laughter. Make their marriage a safe and supportive place for Bennett and for the brothers and sisters we hope you will provide for him. May many come to know your love through the grace you pour out on Blake & Amber.
We pray in the name of King Jesus, Amen.
Presentation of the Couple
And now by the authority of King Jesus, as a minister of the gospel and in the presence of this assembly, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Blake, you may kiss your bride.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is now my great privilege to introduce to you for the first time Mr. & Mrs. Blake Scallan.
Recessional & Postlude
Friends and Family,
What an honor it has been to celebrate this happy occasion together. The bride and the groom would like to invite you to join them in a celebration feast in the tent just over that way as soon as we are dismissed here. And as we transition now into this wedding dinner, we are looking forward to the promise of a greater wedding supper. The angel said to the apostle John in Revelation 19, Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb… These are the true words of God.
Nothing would make the bride and the groom happier on this day than to know that you have seen something of Jesus in this ceremony. All our happiness today, and there is much happiness today, is a shadow compared to the celebration we expect when we feast together in the wedding supper of the Lamb. The angel said “happy are those who are invited” to this marriage supper, and if you would like to know how to receive this glorious invitation, there are dozens of people here who would love nothing more than to extend that invitation to you, even tonight.
So now, let me pray for our food and drink now, and then you will be dismissed to celebrate with us.