I had not danced this much since I was in college (my apologies to any Old School Baptists, but if someone drops Gap Band, I am on the dance floor).  The event was the wedding of my oldest child.  The weather was perfect!  My first experience with the Pittsburgh Cookie Table was beyond memorable!  I really cannot imagine a better day.

As I recovered from the wedding and after dancing, I really couldn’t move very far, so I started thinking about weddings, marriages, and what God has planned for all of us.  Eventually, I ended up thinking about how odd it is to consider myself the “Bride of Christ.”  If you are like me, you have heard this term used  to refer to the church, and more precisely the people of the church, but oddly enough, the term is never used in the Bible.  There are several places in the New Testament where Jesus is referenced as the metaphorical bridegroom, but from there, chaos ensued in interpreting who was the bride. (Warning:  don’t look too far into these interpretations, as some of them are rather disconcerting.  I believe the kids today say ‘cringey.’)  However, the most commonly used interpretation of the bride is the church itself, or more specifically, the ekklesia, or ‘the chosen ones.’

The primary function of this analogy is to use the concept of marriage to help us understand our relationship with God.  Isaiah 62:5 describes the desire of God to be in a relationship with us just “as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall God rejoice over you.”

My initial thought was to follow along with the most common discussion about these verses and examine what the Bible says about marriage and, to the surprise of no one, God has a lot to say.   According to scripture, we are to understand marriage as absolute unity (Mark 10:8-9), that we are to help and defend each other (Eccl 4:9-12).  We are to submit and forgive one another (Eph.: 5:22-23 and 4:32), we are to be without sin (2 Cor. 11:2), and we are to be faithful, wise, and work hard (Prov 31:25).  I have been married for 35 years, and when I look at this list, I am overcome with the idea of my successes, but also my many, many failures.

Then, when I see the extraordinarily human me in an intimate relationship with the creator of the universe.  I know that my wife sees and forgives many of my flaws, but how do I deal with a God who sees all of them? My first thought is to hang my head, which is exactly what God does not want me to do.  A part of this analogy that has not gotten any discussion is that we (you, me, those who chose to follow) are not being compared to the spouse of Christ or the long-term friends of Jesus. We are the Bride.  The idea here is not only about the commitment and the time spent together in this world and the next.  God is talking about the party.  He wants us to focus on the celebration involved in our relationship, particularly at the many starting points.

The most famous wedding scene in the Bible takes place in John 2.  Jesus had just recently been baptized and was invited to a wedding in Cana attended by his mother.  This chapter is often read as Jesus’ first miracle and the beginning of his ministry, but there is more here about the event itself (not to mention some interesting details concerning Jesus and his mom, but I digress).  Here we see Jesus at a celebration of new things:  a new family, a new ministry, new followers, new believers.  All of these are worthy of rejoicing.  Furthermore, this is a celebration that Jesus does not end but allows to continue with new wine, and not only new wine,  but better wine.  He was calling on the party not to die down but to flourish.

I know that in my own life, I have tried to be all of the things that God has asked me to be as a husband and father, but I am also fully aware that I have often failed in reaching those goals of unity, forgiveness, etc. But on the day of my wedding, I celebrated the hope of what could be.  And when I celebrate the one true union with Jesus, whenever that might be, I know he will make me all of the things he created me to be.  That, my friends, is worthy of a party.

PS  To my oldest son, Seth, and my newest daughter, Sammi, may your celebration last and last and…

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