Saturday, January 30, 2010

Here comes the Bride

My second oldest daughter, Abby, is getting married in August! Our family couldn't be happier. Her fiance, Jeremy, is a wonderful young man and a great match for her. Recently Abby set out to find her wedding dress. Even though a wedding dress is just a piece of clothing, there are entire magazines, television programs and books written to help you choose just the right one for "the big day." The process can feel overwhelming. But Abby was up for the challenge. She knew the kind of dress she wanted and she went on-line and found that another young woman was selling this very dress (never been worn) for a quarter of the retail price. The dress was two hours away in Portland, so we hopped in the car to go and see the dress and try it on! The dress fit Abby perfectly. Even though she quickly tied her hair up to put the veil on, and still had her jeans on underneath the dress, she looked radiant. But just in case her fiance reads this blog I shouldn't go into anymore detail other than to tell you that the dress is beautiful and white:)

All this wedding stuff has me musing about the rich spiritual symbolism that lies within the subject of marriage itself. In the Bible, the church is called the Bride of Christ. I am not a theologian, but I can tell you that must mean the church is pretty important to God. But church is such a loaded topic today, isn't it? So many wonderful people I meet have either been hurt by the church and aren't going anymore, or else they are bored by much of the traditional ways of "doing church". I've often fallen into the latter category the last few years. In my boredom, my tendency has been to become the Roger Ebert of church services. Each service either gets a thumbs up or a thumbs down depending on my critique. One day when I was mentally filing through my list of criticisms for the church, I believe God gave me a daydream.

In this daydream, I was in a surgery room. On the table was a young woman who needed surgery. I was handed the scalpel and rather than strategically cutting where surgery was needed, I started slashing and cutting away with little regard for the patient.

Right away I knew I'd been busted. By this simple picture God showed me that I had been mercilessly cutting down the church. My sharp critique carried no regard for the health of the church.

It's easy to get lost in criticism for the church, but the bottom line is this. God loves her! In layman's terms, the church is Jesus' girlfriend. He loves to be in her presence. Somehow by seeing the church as a woman in my daydream, it helped me realize in a deeper way that the church isn't an institution--and really, that's the part I'm bored with. It's people. But it's people connected together because of Jesus' sacrificial love and forgiveness.

In Matthew 18:20 it says, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst." It's one thing to worship God in our alone time, but something dynamic happens when we gather together with other believers and worship. I think God comes running to meet with us because we start to resemble the Bride!

Sure. There are lots of improvements the church needs to make, but according to the Bible, the church's best days are still ahead. Ephesians 5:27 says that when God comes back for Her, that She will be spotless and perfect. Wow. That's something I want to be a part of!

When I was a kid we sang silly words to the traditional wedding march song. I'm sure you've heard it--"Here comes the bride, big, fat, and wide. . ." Even though that version of the song isn't meant to flatter the bride or the groom, I now see the words of that first line as a statement of faith depicting the Church when she is perfected. Not weak, not sick, but hearty and full of life! I'm not sure exactly how that will happen or what it will look like, but I think I got a small snapshot of it when I saw my daughter in her wedding dress--it will be beautiful and it will be white:)

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