why we’re actually gathered here today

For those of you who don’t know, I am getting married on Saturday.
What an exciting time!
Through the past year of planning and preparation, I have learned so much.  About myself.  About my future husband.  About the Lord.  But sadly, what I’ve probably learned the MOST about is planning a wedding.
I can tell you how much it costs to rent out almost every venue in the greater Austin area.  I know which ones require you to use their caterer and which ones allow you to use your own.  I know noise ordinances and fire codes.  I know the prices of things like chair rentals, photographers, and hair stylists.  I know the breakdown of every Men’s Wearhouse tux, and that for all their monopolizing they still don’t carry David’s Bridal’s “petal” pink.  If you need some useless wedding knowledge, I’m your girl.
I know all of this because there is this strange phenomenon that occurs in our country when a woman gets an engagement ring.  She is all at once stripped away from the normal rhythms of life and thrown head first into the world of weddings.
This alternate reality is one in which your stream of consciousness is filled with things like colors and programs and flowers and ribbons.  “Big” decisions are made about dresses and food and invitations, and you go to sleep at night feeling simultaneously overwhelmed and accomplished.  It’s a land of self-obsession and entitlement; it’s designed to shift reality into this idea that your entire marriage, nay, your entire existence, hinges upon this one day.  It’s YOUR day.  YOUR spotlight.  YOUR chance to shine.  After all, YOU deserve it!!
….proof of a broken world under the influence of a clever and scheming enemy.
I would like to tell you that I have not been subjected to this depraved land of wedding nonsense, but that would be a lie.  I have continuously found myself in repentance of my absolute desire to worship the wedding itself.  At the beginning of my engagement, I was ready to elope.  I thought that spending so much time preparing for one day was ridiculous, and the idea of Hawaii created a lust in me so great that it was impossible to deny. 
But after MUCH prayer and consideration, I determined that a wedding was important.  I knew that if it were not an act of worship alongside my community, that it would feel lacking.  And so I begrudgingly set about planning this important day.
Hear me on this: I STILL believe that a wedding is important.  The idea of a wedding is good.  Godly.  Gospel centered.  Weddings, in their purest form, are biblical and symbolic.
Enter Satan.
He has twisted this thing of beauty that was created to point us towards Christ, and made it about consumerism, self-worship, and deeply rooted idolatry.
To put this into perspective, the average American wedding in 2012 cost $28,427 (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/theknot-com-weddingchannel-com-reveal-141000109.html).  Wedding websites, magazines, and blogs are FULL of the latest and greatest must haves for your wedding.  Surely you MUST need THESE items to make YOUR day complete.  For the low low price of your sanity, you can spend 8 hours impressing the pants off of everyone!  And it’s so easy to fall prey to the subtle shifts in logic that will send you spiraling down this path into bridal oblivion.  The worst part of it all is that even when you find yourself drowning in the sea of wedding, it is rarely frowned upon.  It’s simply expected of you.  “Every bride feels this way, Honey.” “That’s okay.  It’s YOUR wedding.”  “You only get to do this once (I hope).”  That last one is my favorite.  People who don’t even 100% believe in your marriage, or even in the concept of marriage, have NO problem whatsoever indulging your every wedding whim. 
This rampant attitude that a wedding is about the wedding is a tool that the enemy is using to belittle the Word of God.  The scripture talks about marriage being the picture of Christ’s relationship with His church.  In Ephesians 5, marriage is laid out like this: A husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church and a wife is to submit to her husband as we are called to submit to our King.  In light of this Biblical truth, the wedding is meant to be an act of worship and humility.  It is a dying to self only to be joined with another for the purpose of being used as a vessel for the gospel.  It is a time to honor Christ for the work that He has done, for the covenant He is joining, for the way He loves you enough to bless you with the desires of your heart.  Should we celebrate this?  Absolutely!!  Is it wrong to spend time focusing on the details of the wedding?  No.  It is wrong to worship the wedding and to view it as the most important part of itself.  The most important part of the wedding is the marriage covenant.  Everything else is only a celebration of that.
Another interesting quality of this parallel universe where weddings reign supreme is that it’s brides only.  We are flaunted and fawned over.  Everyone fusses over our hair, our dress, our shoes.  For months before the wedding there are parties thrown in our honor.  Time and money spent for the purpose of celebrating us.  We are lifted high onto our white pedestal while our grooms are instructed to sit on the sidelines, keeping busy and quiet.
I’m not saying that bridal showers and luncheons and parties are inherently wrong.  I think they are a wonderful way to celebrate with a woman as she prepares for marriage.  All of my parties and pampering over the past months have meant SO much to me.  And I look forward to doing the same for my friends when they get married.  The problem is not in the act of celebration, but rather the shift that occurs between celebration of a marriage union and worship of a human girl in a white dress.
I’ll admit that it feels great to be the center of attention.  But it would feel better to be in a tropical paradise about now, sipping a coconut full of rum and listening to the Pacific Ocean break against white sand beaches.  I didn’t plan a wedding for the focus to be on me. I planned it for the focus to be on one much greater.
Was the wedding intended to place a special spotlight on the bride?  Yes!  The heart of symbolism in a wedding is the picture of a bride taking much care and preparation to welcome her bridegroom.  And there is something so beautiful and God-honoring about a bride adorning herself in a gorgeous gown and having a huge celebration with the people she loves.  We anticipate the bride, as well we should.  But it’s not about her.  It’s not about the way she looks or the flowers she carries or the color of her chosen tablecloths.  It’s not about the women attending to her that day, and it’s not about the guests invited to witness it all.  These things, however magnificent they may be, are simply expressions of her preparation.  They are NOT the focus.
The true focus was never meant to be the bride.  She is spotlighted not because we are focused on her, but rather on the way she adores her groom.  She prepares herself meticulously for this long awaited union.  It’s all about him.
A wedding, like marriage, was designed to make much of God.  It is not a symbol of romance between two individuals, but of the ultimate romance between Christ and creation.  It is a reminder that our bridegroom, Jesus, has made a Holy Covenant with us that he is committed to fulfill. 
We pay close attention to the bride on her wedding day because we ARE the bride.  And the way she adores and prepares for her imperfect and human groom is only a small picture of the way we are to adore and prepare for our coming King Jesus. 
So as you celebrate with me this weekend, please be careful to not celebrate my wedding, but instead to celebrate the marriage it represents.  And please be careful to not celebrate ME.  Because I am broken, and I will probably be dreaming of Hawaii.  Instead, I ask that you join me in celebrating the object of my adoration.  I ADORE my groom.  I will be rejoicing in his new position of Husband, head, and leader in my life.  My focus will undoubtedly be on him. But more than that, our focus together will be on the Lord.  Even as much as Brandon is the groom on Saturday, he is still the bride of Christ.  And our wedding, like our marriage, is to point to Him.  It’s not about romance or happiness, success or family.  It’s all about Him.  As individuals and as one, we exist to make much of our Bridegroom, Jesus.  It is our desire to glorify Him while we wait expectantly for His return.  Saturday’s celebration will be nothing compared to the wedding celebration that is to come!!

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