By Catherine Parks
(Editor’s Note: It’s wedding season and we know brides and newly engaged women have tons of questions. We want to give you some thoughts on weddings from anything from planning to sex. Enjoy our newest series “Preparing for Your Wedding Day.”)
I was 22 and fresh out of college when I got married. I had no idea what I was doing in planning my wedding. Sure, I had the tips, checklists and conventional wisdom of tradition. But the thought of a Christ-centered, gospel-proclaiming wedding never occurred to me. I knew I wanted God to be glorified by my wedding, but honestly I’m not sure I even knew what that meant. Unfortunately my wedding plans were motivated more by pride and fear of man than anything else.
A couple of years ago I attended a wedding that knocked me off my feet. The bride and groom were humble and joyful, but the true center of attention was Christ. The vows were drenched in grace, forgiveness, love and sacrifice. I cried at the joy of witnessing such a beautiful picture of Christ and His bride.
That was when it hit me—I missed it. I had no clue a wedding could be like that. Suddenly I wanted every engaged couple to be able to see a wedding like this—to know there were possibilities beyond the wedding magazines and websites.
Since that day I have witnessed or heard about many such weddings. From the simple backyard, low-key affair to the 250-guest bash, the message is the same. And it’s strikingly different from what we hear everywhere else.
The message is this:
Christ is all.
Marriage is a good gift, given by a loving Father. But it is momentary.
Marriage is a picture of the loving relationship of Christ and the church—an overflow of the love of the Father for the Son. But one day the picture will no longer be necessary. We will have the real thing.
The wedding is a present blessing and a beautiful foreshadowing. It points to a greater reality, even as it celebrates an immediate joy.
Ultimately, Christ is all.
And when we are bought with the price of the Son’s life, we become the beloved children of God and the bride of Christ. We are no longer our own. Our identity is wrapped up in being loved by Him.
As we plan our weddings, we have the chance to glorify the Father for this amazing, undeserved gift. As the witnesses rejoice in the love of the bride and groom for one another, their worship can be directed toward the Giver of this love. In fact, they can worship the God who is Love. As the bride and groom plan a day reflecting their tastes and personalities, they are truly reflecting the Creator who gave them these personalities.
And as the bride walks down the aisle and the groom looks on in astonishment, a greater meaning is present before us. In a sermon in Revelation 19, Charles Spurgeon said:
Oh, what a day that will be when the eyes of the entire universe shall be turned in one direction and the glorious Christ, in the splendor of His Manhood and of His Godhead, shall take the hand of His redeemed Church and, before men and angels and devils, declare Himself to be one with her forever and forever! That will be the beginning of the marriage supper of the Lamb—it will be the publication to all of the great fact of mutual love and union!
It is a beautiful thing to experience earthly love. My intention is not to deny that in any way. Rather, I pray the message of our weddings would be what I wish mine had been—the loving Father has blessed us with the gift of this union as we wait for the eternal reality of the truest love. May we rejoice in both!
There is a hymn called “The Sands of Time Are Sinking” (also known as “Emmanuel’s Land”), written by Anne Cousin and based on the letters of Samuel Rutherford, that so beautifully expresses this joy and tension in our weddings. One bride I know actually walked down the aisle to this song specifically because of the fourth verse, written below:
The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory
But on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel’s land.
And so, as we think about weddings, may this be the picture in our minds and our hearts. May each guest come away with a clear picture of the gospel—the Father’s loving purchase of a bride for His Son, through the sacrificial life, death and resurrection of that Son. May we rejoice in being the bride, enjoying the gift of love here as we await our coming union with Him.
Because, truly, Christ is all.
During nap times and between loads of laundry at her home in Nashville, TN, Catherine Parks is a writer. At other times of the day you can find her either pretending to be a cheetah wrangler with her two small kiddos, or trying to convince her husband, Erik, to become a coffee drinker. Catherine has a BA in English literature from Bryan College and is finally putting the degree to work in a book on Christ-centered weddings. Follow her on Twitter at @CathParks.
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