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Waiting for Your Wedding: Reflections on Advent

'waiting at the door' photo (c) 2006, Joe Flood - license:

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,


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

A Fairy Tale Wedding

I’ve been thinking about fairy tales lately. My five-year-old daughter is not much of a princess kid. She prefers playing with animals (hence the cheetah-wrangling) or being a cowgirl, but we do have princess stories in our home. In thinking about these stories I’ve realized the major theme is that of a princess waiting for her prince to come and rescue her or give her a better life. Now that doesn’t mean she’s always just sitting there waiting–most of the time she is actively working or serving someone or something in the process. But her life does not have its greatest meaning or purpose until her prince comes. Then things are complete.

Our weddings and marriages are not fairy tales. We are not made complete by another person, and our lives do not get their sole meaning and purpose from another person. If you have trusted Christ and His finished work on the cross to save you from the penalty for your sins, then “in Him you are made complete” (Col 2:10). Jesus alone can make us complete. Our job is not to sit and wait for a human prince to come so life can truly begin, and our weddings are not the culmination of this waiting process. Yes, we wait, and yes, we rejoice in our weddings. But not so that life can finally begin. It’s not that kind of fairy tale.

Yet in another way weddings do represent a fairy tale. They are a beautiful depiction of a much bigger story—the great Rescuer joining with his rescued bride, the church. This is the greatest story and we miss the point if a wedding is only about a beautiful princess coming down the aisle to her groom and to an earthly “happy ever after.” It should be pointing to a much greater, truly perfect wedding—the marriage feast of the Lamb as described in Revelation 19. In his sermon on this passage Charles Spurgeon wrote:

Oh, what a day that will be when the eyes of the entire universe shall be turned in one direction and the glorious Christ, in the splendor of His Manhood and of His Godhead, shall take the hand of His redeemed Church and, before men and angels and devils, declare Himself to be one with her forever and forever! That will be the beginning of the marriage supper of the Lamb—it will be the publication to all of the great fact of mutual love and union![i]

I confess this was not the picture I had in mind as I planned my own wedding, nor was it what I thought of as I walked down the aisle toward my husband, Erik. I wanted to glorify God through my wedding, but lacked the big picture. Now as I stand and watch brides walk the aisle I’m usually the one with mascara running down my cheeks. It’s just so beautiful—we get to be the bride of Christ!

When I see things that describe a wedding as a fairy tale, I have mixed feelings. This can either conjure up images of a misdirected bride placing all her faith in her groom, or a grateful Bride placing her faith in her Rescuer. May our weddings, and our lives, represent the second picture.

For more reading on this subject, I recommend the following:

Mike Cosper wrote a great article on princess stories and the gospel here – Are Fairy Tales Finished?

Tom Strode (my dad and former pastor) wrote a series of short and helpful posts on marriage myths here – No. 1: Someday My Prince Will Come

[i] C. H. Spurgeon, The Marriage Supper of the Lamb, no. 2428 (sermon, Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, England, Lord’s Day evening, August 21, 1887).