My Second Marriage – An Ancient and Future Wedding

No one plans to have two weddings, but I do. No, I’m not threatening to leave Miranda (and by the way, that’d be the dumbest thing in the world for me to do.) I’m referring to the Wedding of the Lamb (Jesus) to His bride, the church. Although my wedding was amazing, I don’t think it’s gonna be anything compared to this wedding. Bridezillas have nothing on this one. It’s “THE” Wedding. Nothing can compare.

Yesterday, I taught a group of students about all this stuff by looking further at the cultural practices of Ancient Jewish Weddings. I learned the basics of the material from a guy named Dan Kimball who wrote “The Emerging Church” – www.vintagefaith.com. I did a little more studying on the topic and discovered some really cool things. Many of Jesus’ words fly right over our heads ’cause we don’t understand the wedding customs of His day. The connection between the ancient Jewish wedding and the time when Jesus will return (A Future Wedding) are significant. He (the Groom) will return to take the church (the Bride of Christ) as His own. Check out the process for getting married in Jesus’ day: (The bulleted sections refer to the Future Wedding of the Lamb when Jesus returns to take the church as his bride.)

1. Selection of the Bride – The first step in the process was when the father of the groom selected the bride. Young Jewish girls had little say in who they would marry and would dream about who would select them. The groom committed his love to the bride based solely on his father’s decision. The bride loved her groom simply because He had loved her first.

    • It’s good for us to remember that God chose us. Even in the midst of our sin against Him, He still loves us.

Romans 5:8 “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    • Of course it is out of our response to the love that He offers us that we are able to love Him.

1 Jn 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.

2 Thessalonians 2:13 – “From the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit. . .

2. “Mohar” – The second step in the process is called the “mohar.” This is the price that was paid to the bride and her family. It represented the magnitude of how the groom valued her. The greater the price, the more value they had ascribed to her.

    • For us, we should remember that Jesus (the groom) paid the ultimate price for us with His own life. This is proof that we are incredibly valuable to God.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “You are not your own; You were bought with a price.

3. “Ketubah” – After paying the “mohar,” the groom would offer the bride a list of promises (called a ketubah) which he was committing to her for the life of their marriage. (like the vows we take in the modern wedding)

    • Jesus has also given us many promises. The Bible is full of them. Here’s a short list:

I will never leave you or forsake you.” – Deut 31:6

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matt 11:28

I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” – John 6:47

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” – Gal 3:26

4. Gifts – The groom would give her gifts to remind her of his love while he was away. (see step 6) Today, we exchange rings as reminder of our love and commitment for one another.

    • Jesus gave us gifts too.

Romans 12:6 – “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.

    • These gifts come in the form of spiritual gifts like serving, administration, compassion, teaching, etc and also in the form of other people (the church) that He has brought into our lives. And of course the greatest gift He gave us is His Holy Spirit.

John 14:26 says, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

5. Wine – Next, the groom would offer a cup of wine (Cup of Redemption) to his girl. If she accepted his offer, then she would drink of the cup without saying a word. This act ceremonially sealed the engagement before he left. (check step 6)

Mark 14:23-24 – “Then he [Jesus] took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ he said to them.

    • Did you realize that every time we receive communion, Jesus is proposing? Essentially, this is the picture that Jesus was giving the disciples that night. He’s going to leave for a while and so He is sealing the engagement.

6. Groom Leaves – He leaves to prepare the wedding chamber. Typically this would last about a year, but the groom could not decide when he was ready to come back for his bride. This decision was made by his father. Most grooms would typically want to rush through the preparations to “get on with” the honeymoon, so their fathers would decide when the chamber was ready.

    • Jesus has left us to prepare a place for us too. John 14:2-3 says,

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

    • Also check out Matthew 4:26. Jesus is speaking of the time that he’ll return and he says,

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

    • This sure sounds a lot like the tradition from the Jewish wedding to me.

This is not a “mikvah” but an ancient tub that I sat in at Masada. Although similar, a mikvah is typically much larger.

7. “Mikvah” – While the groom is away preparing a place, the bride is at home preparing herself. The “mikvah” was a ritual bath that the bride would take in order to set her apart “from the world” and “for her groom.” Symbolically, she was saying, “My old life is gone and the new one has come.”

    • Our baptism is our “mikvah.” It is the time when we decide to “set ourselves apart” for Christ. It is during this time that we are made “new” again.

2 Cor 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

    • In the same way that a modern bride is concerned about the way she will present herself on her wedding day, this time is important for us as believers. It’s the time that we are becoming holy, spotless, pure through the blood of Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. Ephesians 5:25-27 describes the goal of this mikvah saying,

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

8. Wedding March – When the day finally came, the groom would gather his friends and together they’d march into town blowing a “shofar” (like a trumpet) and making all kinds of noise to announce their arrival. The louder they were, the more excited and proud the groom was to be able to marry this girl. It was the bride’s job to be ready (to have her lamp trimmed) for when he came.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 – “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God.

Matthew 25:1-13 – It’s our (we are the bride) job to be ready for His arrival.

Rev 19:7 – “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.

9. Wedding Ceremony – In most cases a “chuppah” (canopy) was built for the ceremony to be performed under. It symbolized the “covering/blessing” of God on this union. The bride would receive a crown and the couple would drink another cup of wine. (Another custom which was added later is that this cup would then be broken as a symbol of the “bittersweetness” of the day – sweet for the couple, but bitter for their people whose temple had been destroyed.)

    • When Christ returns and gives us our crowns (James 1:12 & Rev 2:10), our union will be complete and we will be with Him forever. Also, remember that when Jesus was in the upper room enjoying the Last Supper, He drank from the first cup (that was the proposal “Cup of Redemption”) and then he said,

I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.

    • This was Jesus’ way of referring to this particular cup of wine found within the wedding ceremony. He was saying, I’m gonna leave you, but I’ll be back and we’ll drink again for the wedding ceremony. (It also interesting to note that the Passover meal normally required them to drink of the cup one more time. When Jesus skipped it, he was purposefully trying to help them see this larger “wedding” symbol instead of the regular Passover symbols.) As the cup is destroyed, we can remember that we will no longer need it for communion – we’re already communing with Him.

10. Wedding Feast – There was one final step in the wedding process. The party time! It usually lasted for about a week. The couple would consummate their marriage in a room with the best man standing guard as the guests partied outside. Wow!! Talk about pressure.

    • This is the time after we are joined with Christ forever and begin the eternal party with Him. Read Rev 19:6-9 and  check out who is invited to the wedding in Rev 3:20 – the normal/poor people.

Below is a chart I created to help put all of this together. The “Modern Wedding” section may have the pieces in a different order, but each part coincides with something from the Ancient Jewish Wedding too. (Click on it or download it to see it in full resolution.) Ultimately, the main lesson here is for our own future wedding with Jesus as the groom. Better get ready!!

 

Back from the Future

Just Call me Marty McFly
Just Call me Marty McFly

Yes, I went back in time last night. (or at least it seemed like it.) Miranda and I had driven to Nacogdoches for a wedding (congrats Deana!) where we stayed in a very nice old hotel called Hotel Fredonia. Our friends Josh and Shana were sharing the room with us. Anyway, Josh and I took a little walk ’cause Miranda had to feed Kesleigh. We walked down an old road made of bricks and came to a Dolorean – you know like Doc and Marty McFly drove. The silver one with suicide doors. (It was missing the Flux Capacitor.) From there, we walked on up the road and found town square and an old clock. I’m pretty sure I even saw an old theater down the street like the one in the Back to the Future films. Anyway, it was just a fun little experience that I thought I’d share. Especially since I had a great pic to post with it.

Jesus in the Passover – Maundy Thursday

I had the pleasure of leading our congregation through a Seder/Passover meal a couple of years ago. I put together a little booklet called a “Haggadah to explain the symbolism behind each element of the meal. I made the booklet into a slide show for anyone interested. I’d encourage everyone to step through it and truly think about depth of Jesus’ participation in this meal as the actual Passover lamb. You can also download the booklet and print it out here along with an extra leaders guide: Christ in the Passover (It has a few extra meaningful notes in blue.) For a better understanding of the fact that Jesus deviated from the normal Passover meal during the 3rd cup (Cup of Redemption), I’d also encourage you to read this blog I wrote about Jewish wedding customs.

Click on the first pic and the rest will come up in “book” form.

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Honorary Father

Jayna asked me to stand in as an “honorary” father at her wedding this past weekend. It was truly an honor. Her dad, Buck, and I were great friends during his last few years. In those days, I had the pleasure of playing  in a band with him. I was also youth minister to two of his kids – Jayna and Dustan.

This weekend, I thought of him quite a bit and missed him greatly. I’m so grateful to have known him and been able to serve alongside him. Jayna worked with me here in Lake Jackson as a summer youth assistant too. Anyway, the wedding was beautiful and we got to see quite a few old friends too. Good stuff.

Kasen, discovered himself in the mirror at the hotel. It was pretty funny watching him laugh and giggle and dance and kiss himself. Here are a couple of pics.

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A New Dance with a Beautiful Bride

Dancing01I had some thoughts today – Miranda and I started our life together with a dance on our wedding day. Pretty early on in our dating life, we danced together. As we start this new part of our lives with Kasen, it kinda seems like another dance. We’re still learning the steps, and how to move together, but it sure is a fun song to dance to. And I’ve got the best dance partner in the world. I feel like I’ve been writing and praying about the kind of dad that I wanna be, while all along, Miranda is already everything a mom should be. She’s been so good with Kasen. I am so blessed to have her and I’m having lots of fun watching her “mommy-instincts” kick in. She’s incredibly patient and functions really well with almost no sleep. She continues to provide a beautiful home for us and smiles every time I come through the door. (Well, almost every time.) I like calling her “my beautiful bride” and today she is still the most beautiful girl in the world. The same girl I danced with on my wedding day. I see it as my job to help her realize how beautiful she really is. Someday, I’m gonna get her to say the words, “I’m beautiful.” and in that moment, I will have been a part of something really incredible – she will finally have seen herself the way the rest of us have always seen her.

Prayer:
Lord as we learn these new steps together, please be with us. We’ve already shed a few tears and I’m sure there are more to come, but we’ve also known You’re with us through it all. Comfort us. Give us patience with one another. Send people into our lives to bring encouragement and love. Hold us in Your hands God – close to Your heart. As Miranda holds Kasen, let us realize Your presence and closeness. Lord, on our wedding day, we had a multitude of people pray over us and I claim those prayers today over our lives. I’ve never felt closer to Miranda than I do right now, but I also know that things will never be the same. As we make this transition, guide us. Show us how to not only maintain a healthy relationship, but how to grow it even as we are being pulled in other directions with Kasen. God, we need You. We trust You and we will walk with You. Hold our hands and go before us. AMEN.

Rocks
The rocks in the vase to the right are the rocks from our wedding day. Each one was held by a friend or family member and a prayer was said for our relationship and marriage.  This vase sits on the table of our entry way so that each day we will be reminded of the love and support of our friends and family as we strive to live out the promises we made to each other on that day. With the addition of Kasen to our family, I am claiming by my friend Evan’s “transitive property” that these prayers were also for him.

Jewish Wedding Lessons

06-01-23 01I heard a guy (Dan Kimball who wrote “The Emerging Church” – www.vintagefaith.com ) talk the other day about what a Jewish Wedding back in Jesus’ day was like. He related the Jewish customs to our relationship with Christ as the groom. We are the bride. He is the groom. Here’s my take on it all:

1. Selection of the Bride – The first step in the process was when the father of the groom selected the bride. Young Jewish girls had little say in who they would marry and would dream about who would select them. The groom committed his love the the bride based soley on his father’s decision. The bride loved her groom simply because He had loved her first.

It’s good for us to remember that God chose us. Even in the midst of our sin against Him, He still loves us. Romans 5:8 “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Of course it is out of our response to the love that He offers us that we are able to love Him. 1 Jn 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”


06-01-23 022. Mohar – The second step in the process is called the “mohar.” This is the price that was paid to the bride and her family. It represented the magnitude of how the groom valued her. The greater the price, the more value they had ascribed to her.

For us, we should remember that Jesus (the groom) paid the ultimate price for us with His own life. This is proof that we are incredibly valuable to God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “You are not your own; You were bought with a price.”

3. Engagement Contract and Gifts – After paying the “mohar,” the groom would offer the bride a list of promises which he was committing to her for the life of their marriage. This is list was called the  “ketubah.” In addition, he would give her gifts to remind her of his love while he was away. (see next step) He would also offer a cup of wine to his girl. If she accepted his offer, then she would drink of the cup without saying a word. This act ceremonially sealed the engagement before he left. (check #5)

We were given a “ketubah” (list of promises) called the Bible, and many gifts (Romans 12:6-8 – spiritual gifts, the Holy Spirit, the church, etc.) to remind us of Christ while He is away. Mark 14:25 Jesus says, “I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine again until the day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.” The last supper represents the seal that Christ has on us.

06-01-23 034. “Mikvah” – The fourth step in this process is called “mikvah” which is a ritual bath that the bride would take to “set her apart” from the world and “for” this man. She would symbolically say – my old life is gone and the new has come.

Our baptism is our “mikvah.” It is the time when we decide to “set ourselves apart” for Christ. It is during this time that we are made “new” again. Jeremiah 1:4-5 – We are set apart for God.

5. Groom leaves to prepare the wedding chamber. Typically this would last about a year, but the groom could not decide when he was ready to come back for his bride. This decision was made by his father. Most grooms would typically want to rush through the preparations to “get on with” the wedding, so their fathers would decide when the chamber was ready. When the day finally came, the groom would gather his friends and together they’d march into town blowing a “shofar” to announce their arrival. They’d make all kinds of noise to show how proud they were for this union. It was the bride’s job to be ready (to have her lamp trimmed) for when he came.

John 14:2-3 – Jesus speaks of leaving to prepare a place for us in heaven.

Matthew 24:36 – Not even Jesus knows when He is coming back, only the Father does.

Matthew 24:31 & 1 Thessalonians 4:16 – Jesus will come to get us loudly – with a loud trumpet call.

Matthew 25:1-13 – It’s our (we are the bride) job to be ready for His arrival.

06-01-23 046. Wedding Ceremony – In most cases a “chupah” (canopy) was built for the ceremony to be performed under. It symbolized the “covering/blessing” of God on this union. The bride would receive a crown and the couple would drink another cup of wine. (Another custom which was added later is that this cup would then be broken as a symbol of the “bittersweetness” of the day – sweet for the couple, but bitter for their people whose temple had been destroyed.)

When Christ returns and gives us our crowns, our union will be complete and we will be with Him forever. As the cup is destroyed, we can remember that we will no longer need it for communion – we’re already communing with Him.

7. Wedding Feast – There was one final step in the wedding process. The party time!

This is the time after we are joined with Christ forever and begin the eternal party with Him. Rev 19:6-9 and check out who is invited to the wedding – the normal/poor people – Rev 3:20.

Anniversary

06-01-11Miranda and I just celebrated our 2nd anniversary! It’s a miracle that anyone could live with me for that long. Thank you Jesus! I don’t do very well at the whole “romance” thing – well, not since we got married anyway. Anyway, I thought I’d make a real effort this year. I spent quite a few hours making arrangements and shopping and getting things set up with some youth from our group and planned a candlelight dinner in a park. Meggaen came to the door and picked us up as our chauffer and she brought flowers which I had pre-arranged and placed a card in. We sat in the back of her little car which was filled with flower petals and she drove us to the park. It was just about time for the sun to set as we park and we were escorted to our table which was covered in white (along with the chairs) near the water where the sun would set across the lake from us. We enjoyed a candlelight dinner as some other youth (Katie, Cristy, and Tiffany) served us. They had also placed a CD player there which played music which I had recorded for the occasion. After the sun set and we had finished dinner, (still not completely dark) we fed the ducks and made our way to a little dock. The girls had placed tealight candles around the dock and set it up for a great little dance floor. After dancing, we made our way back and helped pick things up – we also tried to leave a big tip for them of course.

Anyway, it was a beautiful night. I hope Miranda knows how much I care for her and love her. This was alot of fun to plan and arrange (I don’t do it enough) but it still wouldn’t even come close to expressing how much I feel for her. She is my bride! She is my friend! My encourager! My love.

All this is to say, I wondered afterwards about how I express my love for God. Have I gone the extra mile like this to tell Him I care about Him? What would it mean to Him if I did? How could I do that? It all reminds me of the Ten Shekel Shirt Song “Unashamed Love.”

You’re calling me to lay aside the worries of my day

to quiet down my busy mind and find a hiding place

Worthy. You are worthy.

I open up my heart and let my spirit worship Yours

I open up my my mouth and let a song of praise come forth

Worthy. You are worthy.

Of a childlike faith

and of my honest praise

of my unashamed love

Of a holy life

and of my sacrifice

Of my unashamed love

Worthy. You are worthy.

Brenda’s Wedding and My Dad

05-12-21 02Dec 21, 2005

My sister just got married this past weekend. I must admit (something you will rarely hear me say) that she was beautiful.

The wedding was at Chain of Lakes near Livingston, Texas. It was nice, but not quite what she had hoped for. The original plan was to be married on a a beach in Cozumel, but Hurricane Wilma destroyed both the resort and her plans. It was pretty funny to see my sister in a wedding dress designed for the beach and Schonn wearing a Hawaiian shirt in the middle of winter. It was about 40 degrees outside too.

Brenda and Schonn have been together for a long time, but finally made it official. It was a small little service (family and close friends) and Mike (my Father-in-Law) and I kinda tag-teamed in leading the whole thing. Brenda wanted a personal, informal service and she hads given me permission to tell a few stories on her. I was able to say a few things that only a brother could say, and we all laughed, but I tried to be quick to point out the beautiful things about their relationship and the commitment they were making. In addition to asking them about their commitment to each other, I also thought it was important to have the “family and friends” make some promises. We promised together to encourage them in their relationship and even told them collectively that we believed in them.

Anyway, I guess right now as I reflect on the whole thing – I’m hit by the feelings that come when you watch your little baby sister making a truly adult decision. I’m proud of her, excited about her future, and yet I will be sad to never know her as a little girl again. I don’t think I’ll ever see her cry over an Ewok (Star Wars) stuffed animal again. I might never double bounce her on a trampoline again. And calling her “baglady”. . . . – well, that’ll probably never change.

Another thing that hits me is the thought of my dad. Brenda stressed over this day for years ’cause he wouldn’t be there to walk her down the aisle, but you know, I never felt like he wasn’t a part of it.

Dad, you are still very much a part of who we are as a family. Schonn may have never known you, but then again, he knows us and we are just an expression of you. If we laughed, (and we did) it was because you taught us to share the joy we have. When we hiked with the boys, it was with your example before us. When we cried, it’s cause you showed us that men could hurt too. Even the simple fact that we wanted to be together for such an occasion, is a testimony to the love that you had for us and that you taught us to have for one another. The older I get, the more I see you when I look in the mirror. I love you Dad!