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Waiting for Your Wedding: Reflections on Advent

'waiting at the door' photo (c) 2006, Joe Flood - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

This post is dedicated to my husband’s cousin, James, and his precious fiancee, Malia. They are quickly approaching their wedding date of December 21st, and as I thought about their final preparations, I was inspired to spend some time meditating on the similarities of advent and engagement.

Dear Jimmy and Malia,

There are seventeen days left in your engagement. As my children count down the days until Christmas morning, you are counting down the days until you are “man and wife.” As I thought about the excitement and anticipation of the final days of my engagement, I realized I was just a bit envious of you both. This is a special time, unlike any other we experience in human relationships. And yet, as with so many things, it’s just a shadow of something so much greater.

It’s hard to explain to young children what it might have been like for God’s people to wait hundreds of years between prophecy and fulfillment. It’s hard even for me to understand. We sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and talk about the anticipation of Christmas day and how that’s just a tiny bit like what the people awaiting Christ felt as they waited and waited. But we don’t fully understand it. We’re not a culture that waits well. We demand instant gratification, determining worth by an object’s immediate availability, rather than its inherent value.

But you two–you’re getting a glimpse now of what it means to wait. You’ve awaited this day for so long already. And yet you continue to wait–just a few weeks more. You are blessed to know the day and the time, but that only eases the waiting slightly. I remember wanting to just hurry and get married already! There is a yearning–a longing for oneness–that only the arrival of the wedding day can satisfy. For millions of people, December 21st is just another day. But for you, it’s the day. The day it all changes. The day of joy and celebration, the culmination of years of prayers and tears and laughter.

On this day, friends and family will rejoice with you. They will witness something remarkable–the union of two people becoming one. But you two will experience something more.

Jimmy, you’ll know a piece of the joy of our Bridegroom, Christ. You’ll know what it is He sees as He looks on us. As your bride walks toward you, your heart will swell with happiness. You chose this bride and you love her dearly. And this is just the tiniest shadow of the love Christ has for the bride He redeemed with His own blood.

Malia, you’ll know in a new way what it means to be the bride of Christ. You will be clothed in white, walking toward your groom. You will be united with him, finally his bride. As he watches you coming toward him, you’ll know how dearly you’re loved. You’ll see it on his face and as you take his hand, you’ll feel it there too. And this is just the tiniest shadow of what it means to be the bride of Christ.

During Advent we rehearse waiting–remembering the anticipation of the Messiah’s first coming, readying our hearts for His second. We feel longing and yearning for oneness. We linger in the “already, but not yet,” just as you two are promised to one another, but not yet one. Even so, we know the joy of being found in Him, but not yet with Him. So we wait, and we invite others to join in the waiting along with us.

I’m jealous of you two as you wait during these next seventeen days. You are living out a beautiful metaphor. I pray you wait well, that in His grace your Father will give you joy and peace in the waiting. I pray for joy and peace on the wedding day as well. And I pray that all present on that day will know your love not just for one another, but for your Savior–your true Bridegroom.

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!

For the Lord our God

the Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and exult

and give him the glory,

for the marriage of the Lamb has come,

and his Bride has made herself ready;

it was granted her to clothe herself

with fine linen, bright and pure”

Revelation 19:6-8

Advent Resources

My blogging has been spotty for the past couple of weeks due to the fact that we have now finished both of our family “Christmases.” The Strode fam celebrated over Thanksgiving week, and we did the Parks family this past weekend. So it’s all over. And I have to be honest–I’m kind of thrilled.

Erik sometimes calls me Scrooge when December rolls around. I mean, I get excited and we do fun things, but generally by the time December 20th comes around I am sick of it all and ready for January. I think it’s just the stress of doing it all, and figuring out how to reconcile all the commercialism with what we really want our kids to understand about the season.

Last year we had six family Christmases, which meant six times to open presents, which naturally made for a pretty greedy, materially-focused four-year-old. We decided we just couldn’t do that again. So I’m so happy things worked out this way for this year. Now that the gift-giving is (primarily) over, we can sit back and enjoy Advent.

My friend and former college professor, John Stonestreet, wrote a great article about Advent here. I’m learning the joy of expectation and anticipation, and I want my kids to see that too–not anticipation for presents, but for Christ.

A couple of other great Advent resources are:

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Ann Voskamp’s Advent Jesse Tree Devotional and Ornaments – This is a free download of an Advent devotional. Technically it started on Nov. 29, but we are catching up as we were gone over the weekend. Last year I made all the ornaments with ShrinkyDinks and now the kids (well, Sophie really) enjoy listening to the devotionals and guessing what the ornament will be.

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Jesus Storybook Bible – This great Bible storybook has 24 stories leading up to the birth of Christ–perfect for Advent. And, it’s just as encouraging (probably more-so) to my heart as it is for the kids.

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CBC Advent Devotional – My church is putting out a weekly Advent devotional, with readings for each day. You can download the PDF from the website–just look for the image that says “What Child is This?”

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Desiring Virtue Christ-Centered Christmas Series – This is a great blog series on ways to help your family worship Christ and understand Advent.

No matter your age, marital status, or family size, many of the resources can be a benefit in enabling us to wait in expectation for Christ–not just to celebrate the Incarnation, but to wait for His return.

Obviously this post has nothing to do with weddings, but I wanted to take a little break this week and write about something else. Let me know what resources you use in observing Advent!

*All images used were taken from the linked websites and are property of the individual website owners.