Yesterday we opened our church for a wedding from another Presbyterian congregation, and as it was mid-afternoon on a Friday when our usual custodian was not available it fell to me to open the church. Having made everything ready as required to make it a joyful memorable occasion I then retreated into the background. That in itself was a strange feeling for me as a Pastor.
Quietly sitting and reading in the adjacent Hall just outside of the excited scene of gathered family and friends, not to mention the groom, awaiting the Bride I was given a glimpse of a wedding I do not often see.
I have performed many weddings, seen the nervous grooms and excited brides, drank in the imagery of all the pomp and ceremony – but this time I could see nothing. I was limited tin my participation just to sounds. I could only hear.
The excitable noise which had been building suddenly went quiet as things unseen by me began to unfold. Quiet music which the bride had chosen to mark the entry of the bridal party and herself began to play. I could hear the people rise to stand, shuffling to get some glimpse of the bridal party. As the music increased in volume and presence I could imagine the bride’s maids coming one by one, and then the Bride walking that last aisle of singleness to meet her groom.
Suddenly nothing there mattered anymore. With no disrespect for that happy couple, my thoughts went elsewhere, to a higher realm, to a more glorious scene as I began to contemplate the bridal march of the invisible and victorious church to meet its Divine Saviour and Husband.
O what a day that will be!
Truly the shout of heaven will go up: “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints… Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (Rev 19:6-9)
And then it hit me, this is not a Last Day only reality it is not merely a procession that will be evident when the Lord Jesus Christ comes at the end of this present world’s history to gather His bride, and bring her into the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19:9).
No, this is what is happening around the world as the church gathers for worship on the lord’s Day. Sometimes it might seem like a slow progression of steps, but they are steps, steps moving forward to that anticipated day. Steps full of excited anticipation. Steps of exploding joy and gratitude. Steps of confidence in our Bridegroom’s love for He has redeemed us and cleansed us to be His own. Steps of wonder that He would tie His glory to us as an eternal reality.
I began to think that in two days’ time I would be with the congregation of the Lord’s people leading them, encouraging them, yet being one with them in taking yet another step forward in the bridal march to meet our King. And as we do so to know that He is watching with love, commitment and joy.
What a privilege it is to gather in worship as part of the glorious bride of Christ, looking towards our Bridegroom. How miserable then are those days when our thoughts are about how tired we may feel, how distracted by recent events at home or work, when we are taken up with our self-importance.
All eyes were on the bride, but her eyes are only on the groom, her groom, the one God has given and set apart for her, who won her heart and love, and called her into an abiding and enduring relationship with him, evidencing trust in him. How much more should that be our reality every day in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ – and especially on the Lord’s Day as we gather in His presence.
“... just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)
Let us come to honour Him.
Let us come testifying to His grace.
Let us come trusting Him.
Let us come rejoicing in His love and mercy.
Let us come calling others to come to Him.
Let us come to Him.
Let us come.
Let us walk that walk – that wedding walk of grace.