Friday, June 17, 2011

The Wedding

Cassie and John
This past weekend was a joyous celebration of two becoming one. The second of many to come this summer, but by far one of the most precious and dearest to my heart. My beautiful niece (yes I said that right!) walked down the aisle and wed her man. I guess as an aunt you never really consider what it might be like for your niece to marry before you, but to me Cassie has always been more like a friend. She was simply radiant. There is really no other way to put it. My sister (her mom) was glowing as well.

Here Comes the Bride...
I will never forget the moment that my sister began walking her baby girl down that aisle. Everyone stared in awe. Then, rising to our feet in adoration, there was not a dry eye in the church. Cassie was gorgeous—her dress was fanned out to perfection, her makeup made her look like a woman (scary!) and not a hair on her head was out of place. The most beautiful bride I have ever seen. Through the tears, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face the entire ceremony. What a covenant to celebrate!

Despite my tears of joy shed on her behalf as the blushing bride approached her groom, I could not help but cry tears of thanksgiving, as I realized that as beautiful and perfect and blemishless as Cassie looked in that moment, what will it be like to see Christ come for his bride, the church?  

Cassie looked radiant and perfect. It is really just impossible for me to imagine the beauty, holiness, pureness, and perfection of Christ approaching me some day.

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, and the new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, as beautiful as a bride all dressed for her husband." (Rv.21:1-2).

Okay so get this…the Jewish wedding ceremony took place in three separate parts and it is amazing how each of these mandatory steps parallel Christ coming as our Bridegroom.

Part 1: Betrothal
Intense bargaining between the father of the bride and the father of the groom would occur. The “Bride Price” was very steep. Actually, the price was comparable to what would be the price of a new house today! When the bride was paid, there was a ceremony in which the couple was betrothed.

The price Jesus paid for us was also very steep. It was not silver or gold, but His own precious blood. If we have put our trust in that blood, there is a ring on our finger. We are betrothed. In the days of Jesus, this part of the ceremony symbolized a permanent commitment. It is the same with our relationship with Jesus.

Fun at the Reception!!
Part 2: A New Room and Beautiful Gown
Next, the groom went away in order to add a room to his father’s house. It usually took about a year, but the actual time was determined by the father. Imagine having to be separated for a year from the one you intend to marry! Finally, when the father said that things were ready when the groom would surprise his bride and bring her back with a great processional.

In John 14 Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” I also love the concept that the bride would have no idea when the groom and his father would have the room prepared for her…it would be a total surprise!

Meanwhile, the bride’s only duty is to prepare her gown. This involved much time and really emphasized intricate details. John says in Revelation 19:7-8, “For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean was given her to wear.” We, as we live on this earth, are getting ready to become His Bride. Jesus has gone away to prepare a place for us and He will be back. It will be a great Psalm and wondrous procession. Psalm 45:13-14 says, “All glorious is the princess within her chamber. Her gown is interwoven with gold; in embroidered garments she is led to the King.” Wow.

Cassie with her Aunts (and mom)!
When I think about all of the planning and timing and anticipation that goes into a wedding today, it is hard to even imagine that as a bride, you could have a days notice of your wedding! The bride just knows that her only job in until the big day is to prepare her gown. Yet, how incredibly beautiful is this, that in the same sense, we have no idea when Jesus is coming for His Bride, the church, and we must be ready! Just as it is the bride’s duty to prepare her gown, as the Bride of Christ, it is our duty to prepare ourselves, to be ready for His appearance! Oh what a glorious day.

Part 3: The Wedding And Feast

The final part of the Jewish marriage was the actual wedding and feast. Oh what rejoicing their will be in heaven at our wedding banquet! I mean, Cassie and John’s wedding reception was so fun and full of rejoicing and sweet time celebrating the newlyweds, but can you even imagine the wedding reception we will get to partake in when we are finally one with our Bridegroom?!? Most marriages at best, the couple will spend sixty, seventy years together. We will be with Him, our Bridegroom for all eternity. To celebrate our union with Christ that will last FOREVER…just the concept of forever in comparison to a few decades…this is unimaginable to me. I cannot wait for this wedding reception.

The Beautiful Couple!
In the meantime, we wait with great anticipation. Friends, we must be ready. We don’t know when, but we do know HE IS COMING! And oh what a glorious day!!! Paralyze this heart, oh Lord—this is not my home!

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