Friday, 29 May 2015

As long as you both shall live

June 2015

I have conducted two weddings this weekend, one in Burton and one in Holme, and have been reminded what an enjoyable part of my job that is.  It seems to me that most people still think that weddings are worth a great deal of effort – everyone dresses carefully, great care is taken over the smallest details of the day and large amounts of emotional energy are invested, especially by the bride and groom.

Although most of us have heard the same vows made many times it would be hard to deny that something very significant is happening as bride and groom face each other and speak those gripping words of commitment.  We are witnessing the beginning of true love, not the first feelings of attraction and desire but the public commitment to love, to do good to another person.  We hear them promise that they will maintain this true love not until the sparkle appears to have gone out of the relationship but all the way to their dying breath.

But the church marriage service says something about the bride and groom that may seem puzzling:  “It is God’s purpose that they shall be united in that love as Christ is united with his Church.”  What does that mean?  It means that God himself designed human marriage to be a miniature reflection of the big event that lies at the centre of our world’s story, a marriage to eclipse all marriages, the forming of a deep eternal bond between the perfect groom, God’s own Son Jesus, and the people called together by God to collectively form his Son’s bride.  (‘Church’ literally means ‘the called out ones’.)

Imagine the delight that a young child feels at the GP surgery when she sees that her plastic toys exist in the real world too – there really are stethoscopes and thermometers and syringes!  In the same way our weddings are small-scale copies – the real thing exists too, there is a dream wedding and for those who trust in Christ it’s our big day!


Graham Burrows