A Bride For Christmas
“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Prov. 31:25, 26
“Here comes the Bride, all dressed in white…"
That’s how the song goes, “here comes the bride, all dressed in white”, the wedding march. Weddings are beautiful. I had a very traditional and formal wedding. I do not think all weddings need to be formal, but ought to reflect each individual and their uniqueness…special in every way. I made a facebook post earlier this week about how I selected Ode to Joy Beethoven’s Symphony #9 as my wedding song. I actually felt God had lead me to it, the story of how it was selected was unique (I had not ever heard the song before). But that is a story for another time. This story, is about THE Bride. I’m not writing about the bride because it’s my anniversary (that would be a very good reason and would make more sense actually) and I haven’t been to any weddings recently. This has been on my heart for more than a month. I have had several friends celebrate anniversaries recently and I celebrate with them, for theirs are true examples of God’s blessing of marriage. Though I honor my friends, near and far, (I am amazed at how many people I know who got married in December) this is not the reason I have the bride on my heart…
I have the bride on my heart because of Christmas.
Christmas, as most people know, is the celebration of the birth of Christ. Christ came for His Bride, also known as the Church or Christians (followers of Christ). My story tonight, is about this Bride…the Bride of Christ.
So, here we are. Approaching Christmas, a day that forever changed the life of one young girl who had the Light of a Star in her eyes. Mary saw all that the Lord has promised come to pass that day, as she held baby Jesus in her arms. The angel had prophesied to her of this event. She walked through much to get here, but held tightly to her courage and kept her eyes on the One who is Faithful.
We are the Body of Christ, those who Believe in the One who is Faithful...JESUS.
- Just as Mary had to follow the Star, keeping her gaze upward for leadership and guidance on the path to Bethlehem….so we shall keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
- Just as a bride, all dressed in white, keeps her gaze upon the groom waiting for her at the end of the aisle, neither looking to the right or the left, she has her eye on the prize….so we shall keep our eyes, not fixed on others and what they are doing, but we keep our gaze upon the One who is Faithful and sent his Beloved to be born in a manger in Bethlehem. He was born under the scorn of illegitimacy by the worlds standards, but under a promise of salvation by the King of all kings standards. We keep our eyes on Jesus.
Keep your eyes on Him…be of pure and wholesome talk and absolute cleanness of heart and the motives within…we are the Body of Christ...the Bride of Christ, all dressed in white.
“Love… even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-28
Below I would like to share a resource offered at my wedding. We had a program with all of the usual information plus a little something extra…the explanation of the traditions of a Christian wedding and how they grow out of God’s covenant with Israel and his relationship with His Bride, the Believer (someone who believes Jesus is the Christ, Son of God).
HERE YOU GO!:
The Seating of the Guests
Ushers seat guests of bride and groom on opposite sides of the sanctuary to provide a covenant setting. “…She is thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant” (Malachi 2:14)
Seating family and friends on each side of the sanctuary or room symbolizes the sacrifices they have made in order for the bride and groom to enter into this covenant.
How does a covenant differ from a contract? A covenant is based on trust. A contract is based on distrust. A covenant is based on unlimited responsibility. A contract is based on limited liability. A covenant cannot be broken if new circumstances occur. A contract can be voided by mutual consent.
The Aisle Runner
The white runner in the aisle is a symbol of walking on holy ground. A covenant is not made of merely between two people and their witnesses. It is made in the presence of God, and He is actively involved in the agreement, since it is God that joins them together (Matthew 19:6).
When Moses was in the presence of God, he was told to respect that presence with the command, “…put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”
Special Seating for the Parents
The parents of the bride and groom are part of the marriage covenant. The commitments they make during the ceremony are just as binding as the vows of the couple.
The final responsibility of parents for their sons and daughters is to determine with them God’s will for a life partner. Thereafter, they serve in a chain of counsel for them and their children. Parents enter in as authority, and are a line of counsel.
By entering first, the groom signifies that he is the covenant initiator. This is important because whoever initiates the covenant assumes greater responsibility for seeing it fulfilled.
God initiated covenants with Noah, Abraham, and David. Christ initiated the covenant of salvation with us. God is still at work to fulfill His covenants, and Christ will soon appear with the sound of trumpets to consummate the wedding with His Bride, the Church (1 Thes. 4:14-17)
Father Walking the Bride Down the Aisle
This has twofold significance. The father is saying to the bride, “I am endorsing this young man as God’s choice for your husband, and I am now bringing you to him.”
At the same time the father is saying to the young man, “I am presenting to you a daughter whom I have earnestly endeavored to train up as a pure bride.” In Scripture the father is responsible for the purity of the daughter before marriage. Paul illustrates this responsibility in his preparation of the bride of Christ. “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ”. (2 Corinthians 11:2)
The White Wedding Dress
The white wedding gown symbolizes the purity of heart and life for the husband is responsible in life of his wife. During marriage, he is to cleanse her by the Word of God, just as Christ purifies believers by the Word. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives…” (Ephesians 5:25-28)
Who Gives This Woman?
This question and its response symbolizes not only the full blessing of the parents, but also the transfer of responsibility to the groom by the father. A daughter is under the authority and responsibility of her father until she is married. It is, therefore, the father who transfers this responsibility to he groom. “So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well…” (1 Corinthians 7:38)
Holding of Right Hands During Vows
The open right hand offered by each party symbolizes their strength, resources, and purpose. By clasping each other’s right hand, they are pledging these to each other. Just as we depend upon the “saving strength of God’s right hand”, so each partner can depend upon all the resources that the other brings to the covenant relationship. (Psalm 20:6)
The handshake goes far beyond sealing a contract. It symbolizes the cleaving together of lives which is to be accomplished in the marriage covenant. (Genesis 2:24)
The groom makes the vows first. He must be the leader and assume the greater responsibility to fulfill the marriage covenant. As covenant initiator, he must commit himself to the purposes of marriage God established in the beginning. These must be reflected in his vow.
The six purposes of marriage are:
- Companionship. True companionship grows out of a oneness of spirit. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3
- Enjoyment. The principle behind enjoyment is self-control. “Marriage is honorable (of great worth) in all, and the bed (should be kept) undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” Hebrews 13:4
- Completeness. God designed Eve to complete what was lacking in Adam’s life. “And Adam said…she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Genesis 2:23
- Fruitfulness. God’s first command in Scripture is, “…Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth…” Genesis 1:28
- Protection. The husband is to protect the wife by laying down his life for her. Ephesians 5:25 The wife is to protect the home (Titus 2:4-5). Parents are to protect their children to raise up a Godly seed (Malachi 2:15, Psalm 112:1-2)
- Typify Christ and the Church. Marriage is to be a human object lesson of the Divine relationship between Christ and believers (Ephesians 5:31-33)
The Wedding Ring
The wedding ring symbolizes transfer of authority, strength, and protection. There is difficulty in saying that it represents eternal love, since the marriage covenant ends at the death of one partner and since there are no marriages in heaven.
In Scripture, the ring is a symbol of authority and the resources that go with it. In a covenant relationship, the ring symbolizes identification. The belt has also been used in Scripture as the token of a covenant. The belt represented the initiator’s strength and pledge of protection.
When God made a covenant with Noah, he put a symbol in the sky, a rainbow. When viewed from the sky, the rainbow is a circle. It was to be a continual reminder to God of the covenant that He made.
The pronouncement of husband and wife establishes a definite point in time for the beginning of the marriage. These words are to remove any future doubts in the minds of the couple or the witnesses about the validity of the marriage.
The establishing of a point in time is also important in salvation. When we confess with our mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, we are united with Christ in salvation. (Romans 10:9-13) Public baptism and the authority of His Word then give the official pronouncement that we are saved. “but as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” John 1:12
The introduction of the new couple establishes their change of names. In the marriage, the wife takes on the name of the husband, and the man becomes known as the husband of the wife. This name change is clearly illustrated in the covenant between Jehovah God and Abram (Genesis 17:4-5)
God combined Abram’s name with the promise represented in His name to form the new name Abraham. He is now known as “the father of multitudes”, and Jehovah is known as “the God of Abraham.”
The couple signs the wedding papers to establish a public document. It is a continuing public record of the covenant. God wrote out the testimony of His covenant in Scripture. When Laban made a covenant with Jacob, a heap of stones became a witness.
The Guest Book
The guests become the official witnesses to the covenant. By signing their name they are saying, “I have witnessed the vows and I will testify to the reality of this marriage.” The witnesses can also serve as God’s reminders to the couple to be faithful to their marriage vows. Because of the significance of signing the guest book, it should be done after the wedding rather than before.
Special Invitations for Reception
The invitation for the reception symbolizes the invitation to salvation. In the teaching ministry of Christ, he used the invitation to the wedding feast as an illustration of inviting people to partake of salvation. The wedding feast was free to the invited guests, just as salvation is free to all who will receive it. (Isaiah 55:1)
All who respond to Christ’s invitation, both good and bad, must enter on his terms. The man who came without the proper wedding attire in the parable was cast into the outer darkness (Matthew 22:1-14).
Food is part of the covenant celebration. One of the root meanings of the word covenant is “to feed”. Following the marriage, a feast was customary to further symbolize the unity of the couple. Entering into a meal is itself a form of covenant. It is significant that the first event of Christ’s ministry was attending a wedding feast, and His first miracle took place during that occasion (John 2:1-11).
Feeding Cake to Each Other
This act symbolizes the couple becoming one flesh. By feeding cake to each other, they are saying, “This represents my body. As you eat it, I am becoming a part of you; and as I eat the cake that you give to me, you become a part of me.”
A New Testament illustration of this type of symbolism is in the Lord’s Supper. Jesus took bread, broke it, and gave it to His disciples saying, “…Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you…After the same manner also he took the cup…”
(1 Corinthians 11:24-25)
Throwing of Rice
This gesture symbolizes marriage fruitfulness. When a covenant was completed, both parties often established a memorial garden.
In the marriage covenant, the garden represents children who are to grow us as olive plants around the family table. (Psalm 128:3) It is in the children that the two parents achieve their ultimate oneness, and it is through the children that God desires to enrich and reward the marriage covenant.
“Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate” Psalm 127:3-5
I don’t know about you, but I was very blessed to learn all the significance to the varying traditions seen at a traditional wedding. My mother did a beautiful job of putting all of this together for me on that day. Her resource was James Dobson. (www.focusonthefamily.com)
I was strongly lead of the Lord to put this together, so I know it is for someone, maybe you. Be blessed and highly encouraged. The Love of God is with you. His power, love, joy, courage and strength can be yours and you can have them to overflowing in your life. Have a Merry Christmas. I love you and bless you in my heart and in my prayers. ~Nicole