by Sarah Phillips, Crosswalk.com Family Editor
I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10
A few Christmases ago, I had the privelage of being part of two weddings involving four dear friends. These weddings held a particular joy for me not only because all four individuals are my friends, but also because each spouse gave their hearts to God before they ever gave their hearts to one another.
Surprisingly, the typical hubbub surrounding wedding preparations did not detract from my holiday season but added a new layer of meaning. There is much I learned from the joyful anticipation of planning a wedding that applies to our anticipation of welcoming our Savior on Christmas day.
My friends do not have perfect lives or perfect circumstances. Both faced frightening and unexpected medical emergencies, and both couples endured periods of unemployment during their engagements. On top of these major hurdles, they also tackled the normal challenges that come with uniting two lives. Both couples weathered the ups and downs of dating. Both attended intense spiritual retreats and prayed over their life-altering decisions. Both tried on countless wedding garments, stressed over guest lists, and fought over finances.
But both couples glowed with an unquenchable joy throughout the process. They knew these hardships were worth it, and would ultimately be used by God for good. They had confidence their joyful wedding days would come, and they lived accordingly. They also maintained faith that they could overcome any trials their future married lives might hold, and I've witnessed them do this. They oriented their days of preparation around the "Big Day," taking great care to be ready to enter into a profound union.
As believers, we too are anticipating a profound union. This past Sunday, our pastor pointed out that Jesus' arrival as a vulnerable baby was a marriage between divinity and humanity, a day when "the two became one." On the first Christmas, Christ's sanctifying presence built a bridge between a sinful world and a holy God, opening the door for you and I to become part of His family.
As we prepare to celebrate that momentous occasion, we also look to the future when an even greater marriage will take place: Christ's second coming. Scripture refers to this day as the great wedding feast of the Lamb, when Christ, the Bridegroom, comes for His Bride, the Church, never to be separated from us again. Death, sorrow, and sin shall be no more.
From start to finish, the Bible tells the greatest love story of all time: the love of God for His people. The truth of God's unfailing, eternal love for us - greater than any earthly spouse -- should fill us to the brim with joy.
The big question remains -- do our lives reflect joyful preparation for the "Big Day?" Or have distractions, life circumstances, or despair diverted us away from God's profound love?
Intersecting Faith & Life: The "pink" Sunday of Advent is my favorite Sunday, and is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. Gaude is Latin for the word rejoice, found throughout Scripture. Set aside any unnecessary holiday preparations this week that sap you of your joy in Christ and replace them with preparations that focus on the truth of Christmas.
Is 61:1-2a, 10-11
Lk 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54.