Thursday, July 11, 2013

I am yours, save me

At the lowest point of our wedding planning, I laid on the floor of my apartment, face down, praying, chanting, "I am yours, save me. I am yours, save me." We were weighing the theological implications of a detail in the wedding liturgy. The decision was one among hundreds, but its implications were weighty.

We are the sum of our decisions. Thousand upon thousands of decisions, chiseling away at our souls, shaping our personhood. Every decision that I make today -- what I have for breakfast, which books I read to my children, every word I utter, how much time I sit, I stand, what I allow my eyes to see, the thoughts I allow in my mind, the minutes I waste -- they change me, little by little. With every decision, I am becoming and changing the person I will be tomorrow.

So, if you are wondering who you will grow up to be, look in the mirror. If you don't like what you see, change. Now. You are the sum of your decisions, including the ones you make today.

Our wedding day was the sum of many, many decisions. These decisions reflected who we were, what we loved, what we believed. If the wedding feast was a small world filled with our favorite things, the wedding liturgy was a space that embodied our theology of worship and marriage.

So, there I was, overwhelmed and defeated on the floor. I thought I was writing a wedding liturgy, but really, I was doing something so much bigger and I didn't even know it. I was forming my beliefs about God, worship, and marriage. I was asking big questions about timeless truths.

Figuring out our theology is hard, but living it out is even harder. Many throughout the history of the Church fought to their deaths for the sake of their creeds.

No, I did not die on my wedding day. Or did I?

My baby sister is getting married, and she is asking me questions about veils, songs, and such. These posts about weddings are my feeble attempts at helping her from a distance. So, here goes.

Big idea number one: This is worship.

Your wedding has an audience of one. Not two, not three, not two hundred. Just one. You have nothing to prove to anyone else. So, breathe.

A wedding ceremony is primarily a worship service, where a bride and a groom make vows to keep one another before God. Everything else is decoration.

Together, we respond to what God has done, what he is doing, what he will do. We give thanks, we praise, we surrender, we submit, we repent, we rejoice under the Lord's mighty hand. You have chosen to enter the front door of your happily ever after -- worshiping God. And this is an awesome thing.

Big idea number two: A Christian wedding proclaims the Gospel. A Christian wedding is about the Gospel. The bride and the groom point to something far, far greater than themselves. In the words of Apostle Paul: "'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church."

Earthly marriages point to Christ and his bride. Christ proposed not on bended knees, but with outstretched arms. Not with a diamond ring, but with his shed blood for our sins. He died in our place.

Christ, the groom, is waiting for his bride. He is our bridal garment of righteousness. He has made the aisle upon which we shall walk. He will come again to take us away to be with him. He will be our new home. There, he will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain.

I am yours, save me.

He saved me then.
He saves me still.
He will save me again.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Beyond death

Hans wrote my wedding vow. And I wrote his.

I made Hans promise all sorts of things I wanted. My first draft included several mentions of death. I wanted him to promise to follow Christ unto death. Here was my logic: If I had to follow to this guy, I had to make sure I knew where he was going. Thankfully, he convinced me that we should look beyond death. Our hearts should be set on the forever.

He was right.

I remember feeling quite nauseous at the thought of writing another person's vow. I was uncomfortable with having that much power over another human being. Funny. Because, at the time, I had very little idea just how much power our marriage would have over our souls. This power is now mine to wield everyday of our lives together. I hold it with much fear and trembling.

So, as the meaning of these words continue to unfold in our lives, we place each other in the way of grace, before the throne of God.

His vow
By the mercy and grace of our Lord, the triune God, I take you to be my lawfully wedded wife.

By the grace of God, I shall seek after him, to love the Lord our God with my whole heart, mind, and strength. I shall submit to him, incline my desire to him, and follow where he should lead us, seeking after the fulfillment of our sure hope of the perfection of our faith. I shall follow the example that our Lord gave us, seeking to love you as Christ love his Church and gave himself for her. I will lead you in the path of righteousness, for his name's sake, that you may become the woman that God desires you to be.

I shall not leave you nor turn away from you. I will set you as a seal upon my heart and as a seal upon my arm. I take you to be mine, and I give myself to you.

My vow
By the mercy and grace of our Lord, the triune God, I take you to be my lawfully wedded husband.

By the grace of God, I shall seek after him, to love the Lord our God with my whole heart, mind, and strength. I shall submit to you as to the Lord, recognizing that the Lord has made you my head, as Christ is the head of his Church.

Entreat me not to leave you, or turn back from following you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.

I will stir up and awaken your love for me, and enjoy you as the husband God has provided to me. I take you to be mine, and I give myself to you.