Friday, October 21, 2011

21st October

How can something so wonderful and so very special be so very challenging? It’s the missing mum at my youngest daughter’s wedding tomorrow that’s causing the heartache. Jane was the perfect party organiser. More than that, she loved family gatherings of any sort and at the slightest excuse would have us sharing food and fun. She really was at the centre of our family, ensuring we spent lots of time together. So through the week I’ve felt increasingly tense about how I’ll feel on the day and to be honest I never gave much thought about my kids and how they might feel. They all miss their mum massively, I know, and tears are only ever just below the surface, but they’re all busy so that helps distract. But then last night the bride to be let me know she felt exactly the same as I do. I’m not alone in my suffering and sharing with such good friends, as my kids are, is a real comfort. Tomorrow will be good, very different from the church weddings my older daughters chose, but equally special and the bond of love celebrated deserves every blessing I can offer. And I will be kept busy as I’ll take both still and video cameras. But first, I’ve just been asked to taxi the bridegroom and his best men which is quite a privilege. Mustn’t be late though as we’ve a train to catch!

And I’m reminded of how the Lord views marriage. He holds it in the highest esteem. Indeed right at the beginning of the Bible, where we read the story of creation, we see the first man and woman united in the context of marriage, joined as if one and made for each other. Scripture has many stories of marital success, and also failures. with clear guidance concerning that which is right behaviour and that which is wrong. I believe the strength of my own marriage was directly related to the Biblical principles that we jointly adopted and I have to say that the number one ingredient of importance was that we prayed together as man and wife almost every day after becoming Christians in 1982… ok I once spent 3 weeks in Ghana with poor access to a phone, but that was it really.

Then there are the Biblical pictures of the church to think of. For starters I would suggest that Scripture does not talk of the church as a building, so to me the bricks and mortar thing is really just a facility hopefully designed to inspire and encourage us to meet together. No, the church is really made of people and more than that, whether they are meeting together or separated in their day to day lives they are still just as much church. And the Bible describes the church using quite powerful imagery. Whilst it talks of the Body of Christ, the Army of God, and a Royal Priesthood and also makes clear we are part of God’s family being joint heirs with Christ Jesus; for me the picture of the church as the Bride of Christ has always felt particularly special. If the Lord chooses to see his church, his own chosen people, as a Bride that surely places the highest value on the institution of marriage.

The church of today has many ordinances, many ceremonies, and many customs with some being more religious than others. Whilst much of how we do church has real value, Biblically there are very few specific activities that are truly commands – certainly Baptism in Water and Holy Communion or Breaking of Bread. The rest of what we do as church gathered is really down to creative inspiration mixed with historic tradition, but that’s fine by me when we avoid legalism. Then there is one other significant institution… marriage. Although not for everyone – Jesus himself never married – it is nonetheless one of God’s good ideas and when worked out in a Godly manner quite wonderful.

Revelation 19:9 ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.’ (NLT)

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