Marriage and Advent

This is a guest post by Constance Smith, a member of New City:

‘Then one of the seven angels … came and spoke with me: “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”  He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed with God’s glory.  Her radiance was like a very precious stone, like a jasper stone, bright as crystal.’ Revelation 21:9-11

Last week my husband Oli and I celebrated our first anniversary.  It’s exciting.  We’ve made it one whole year!  And as a result, I have been doing a lot of reminiscing lately.  ‘This time last year…’ or ‘Do you remember last year, when …?’  The very best of all the memories, of course, is the wedding day itself.  It was, by far, the best day ever.  I couldn’t stop smiling from the moment I woke up (before everybody else including my alarm clock).  I walked around all morning telling people (who already knew) ‘I’m getting married today!’  I grinned like a fool through the whole service.

There were many reasons that day was the best.  There are lots of moments that I hope never to forget (haven’t yet, anyway).  But one of my favourite moments was walking to the church: we walked all the way from my house to the church because it was only a ten-minute walk.  I was in my wedding dress, veil and all.  I had a special cloak on because it was November in London.  I was carrying my flowers.  My makeup was perfect, my hair was perfect, my dress was perfect.  I felt like I was literally shining.  It was unforgettable.

And that was just one day in the life of one girl in a church somewhere in London.  Millions of women have had similar experiences.  In the grand scheme of time and eternity, my wedding day is not a very big deal.  But it is a foretaste for me (and maybe for you, if you find my story compelling) of what we’re waiting for.

When we talk about the New City that New City IPC is looking forward to, we’re talking about a day that will put my wedding day to shame.  A day that will shine, with the light of God’s love to the world.  A day when everything (not just hair and makeup) will be truly perfect.  A day when the joy I felt walking to the church will be shared and amplified by every human soul in Christ.

I think it’s easy to forget what we’re waiting for – what we’re longing for.  It’s hard to believe in the midst of the pain, the disappointment, the emptiness and insufficiency of our lives day-to-day – and in the face of the tragedy and evil that so often mark the big events of our world – that we are waiting to be the perfect bride.  It’s hard to believe that our sorrowing hearts will overflow with joy even greater than what I felt walking to the church.  It’s hard to believe that our failures and mistakes and insufficiencies will be remade into perfect, precious, indescribable beauty.

But it’s true.  And it’s worth waiting for.

As we approach Advent and the season of longing and waiting for God, perhaps the best thing we can do is to remember the moments when that beautiful, perfect, ultimate future felt possible.  To remind ourselves of the small glimpses we have had (my wedding day, for me) and give thanks that God is with us even now, and that he is bringing all things to redemption in Christ.

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Chris Hatch

Seeking to love God and neighbor