Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (emphasis mine). And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (Rev 21:1-5 NIV)
Six Weddings…Stories of Love and Redemption
Dear Cambridge Family & Friends,
“Four Weddings and a Funeral,” someone remarked to me after this most recent season in my pastorate (referring to the 1994 film of the same name). There was no offense or insensitivity meant and none taken. For the past six weeks, I have had the privilege to be part of the lives of dear friends and new friends, members and former members of our church family. I guess you could say I’ve been part of the supporting cast of a real-life combination of love stories, tragedies and even a romantic comedy, and though I may be a little biased, they have been more beautiful and poignant than anything Hollywood can turn out.
Four Weddings - Actually, unlike the movie that follows the lives of a group of friends who find themselves gathering at, well, four weddings and a funeral, I have gathered with friends and loved ones at half a dozen ceremonies. The series of love stories began when I officiated an out-of-town wedding of college sweethearts in a beautiful glass enclosed atrium - a lovely young woman, who grew up in our church and the handsome young man who had captured her heart. A couple weeks after that, I united a couple who rediscovered new love after experiencing life’s triumphs and challenges for the first five or so decades of their lives. Not too many days after, another couple, who had suffered a few setbacks, stood before our stained glass image of the Lord Jesus and vowed their lifelong commitment in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of The Holy Spirit. The last wedding was held in the beautiful garden of The Inn at Willow Grove in historic Orange, Virginia. God was so gracious, and after a day of severe thunderstorms, and much prayer, He parted the clouds at just the right time for the wedding to proceed outdoors. Some very cute and active children, and the couple’s dog were part of the wedding procession, and a fumbled exchange of the groom’s ring by the minister (ahem!) made the ceremony a beautiful, albeit slightly romantic-comedy.
Six Weddings Actually – In the first four weddings mentioned, a bride and groom stood before me and made a covenant before God to love, honor and cherish one another ‘for better, for worse,’ ‘for richer, for poorer,’ ‘in sickness and in health,’ until death separated them. Two imperfect humans charged with the responsibility of navigating the rest of their lives together pursuing ‘perfect’ love as described by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 13). In the first wedding, the matron of honor made an observation during her toast that the joy of that evening should give us a glimpse of the joy we can expect in Heaven. The last two ceremonies I presided over epitomized that point as those were not the uniting of a man and woman, but the uniting of Jesus with His people, or in this case, two lovely ladies who left this earthly life to spend eternal life with Jesus. Some would call those ceremonies a funeral, and others would call death a tragedy, and I guess if there’s no assurance of joy, it would be tragic, but I serve a church that even in death, can celebrate the life of those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and the joyous eternal life they now have with their Father in Heaven. In his revelation from God, the Apostle John metaphorically describes ‘the new Jerusalem’ i.e. God’s chosen people as a beautiful bride and God as the adoring husband. God promises to wipe every tear of sorrow from our eyes, and says “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” In other words, perfect love. I guess you could say, “a match literally made in Heaven.”
In Him alone,
Cambridge Baptist Church