Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Wedding

I was glad to join with my brothers in Christ this morning in our weekly Saturday meeting after missing several weeks. What should be the opening topic: the wedding of William and Kate. I told my wife about it and declared to her I should write a post on the subject. Here goes.

Just my mere reference to the wedding couple does not seem right: William and Kate. It may (and probably does for some) smack of disrespect, but that is precisely where I want to go with this article. The wedding ceremony of Prince William and his bride Kate Middleton appreciably showcases some important matters.

It is not the historical, political or economic impact or the significance of the succession of kings to the throne in England that captured my attention. I had no interest in the wedding. I saw a few clips as my wife and daughter replayed an earlier recorded program. What the wedding, and really not so much the actual wedding itself, brings to mind for me is the public acknowledgment, capture and celebration of the event by the British royal family and the British people in full splendor, pomp, circumstance with the invocation of God and His blessing.

I believe it was Richard Harris, a British subject no less, who made the statement in a western movie about the scourge of crime affecting the American west . He attributed that scourge to the lack of royalty and disdain for reverence in America.

No, I'm not advocating for a throne in America but the point Harris about reverence reverberated in the wedding event. It is the public acknowledgment, capture or celebration of any sense of reverence Americans have cast out perhaps not with disdain and contempt but with equal measure of disregard and indifference. This is not to say the British are a devout people towards God. However, it is not as though Americans have never known formality and reverence. Even a young person will have an awareness of what is casual and what is formal; what conveys some semblance or acknowledgment of reverence and propriety in public. If they have never experienced it personally they see formality in their entertainment idols at awards ceremonies as well as the casualness in their idols' lives captured in reality TV shows.

Certainly, one undeniable truth about the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton was the honor of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in purity to maintained in holiness:

 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled:
but God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers. Hebrews 13:4

This absence or erosion between the formal and the casual in public is evident in graduation ceremonies and other rites of passage and ceremonies. It has become an expected given that crassness will come crashing in at any moment. It may or may not be with the knowledge and consent of those being honored, but that hardly matters because it soon becomes the opportune moment for irreverence. This same crassness-turned-casual is as readily found in the workplace, both in the way people dress and their speech and conduct. (No wonder management is often clueless to handle these promptly and appropriately in the workplace.) The signs of that formal erosion are found in church too, No. Check yourself. Check my words. This is not a call for full button down shirt and tie or leather shoes. The point is everyone of us, as I've stated, has some awareness of what is casual and what is formal as well as what is appropriate and inappropriate in word and in deed. Although we have formal and casual celebrations I wonder how consistent we are in our deliberateness and preparation for those special moments.

I think I hear the cries: What a stuff-shirt! (Yes, that's the G-rated version cry after all the children might be reading this blog :-)

Many are as clueless if not unwilling to acknowledge the celebration of public irreverence in America. What was at one time formal and which received our full respect is now characterized by a brazen irreverence which does not remain behind at those events and ceremonies. A brazened casualness has come home to our marriages, families and homes and workplace driven my the cool gospel message of entertainment. Even church is a gathering of the casual not the holy as evidenced by our interactions and speech with one another. There's biblical principal which may well apply here. The apostle John wrote First John 4:

If a man says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 4:21 This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother.

If men and women who can see each other fail to honor each other in different public gatherings to show respect towards each other how will they or why would they show respect to God whom they cannot see? Quizz: Check out the crassness with which people talk with each with words and mannerisms which just a few years ago were the stuff which came just before the fist blows. A quick review of movies or talk shows just fifteen years old will reveal these same changes.

Ironically, the earliest acknowledgment, capture and celebration of reverence was immediately after Adam and Eve disrespected and disobeyed God. Yet, they were no less aware of an innate need to seek and own the reestablishment of their respect towards God. They did not cover their nakedness from themselves as much as from God. Later, when God appeared to Moses in a burning bush Moses was reminded by God that Moses was standing in the presence of the Holy One and told him to remove his sandals. The Levitical priesthood who went before the congregation of the Lord acknowledged, captured and celebrated the Holy God of Israel in appearance and conduct in the tabernacle and later in the temple. Jesus in his very earliest days was readily identifiable by his appearance as a rabbi who acknowledged, captured and celebrated his relationship with His Father through his words and actions.

Lastly, the believers in Christ, also called the royal priesthood in the New Testament have put on, that is, clothed themselves with Christ. It is our clothing in Christ which sets the believer apart from the celebration of the casual in our culture. It makes the believer stand apart. They acknowledge, capture and celebrate the Living God Creator of heaven and earth in all that they say and do in work, worship and play. Each one of us came to be clothed with Christ when we finally confronted our dire, dejected, shameful and sinful condition. We were tired of a living a life filled with the casual without reverence. Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly. That's not just as a private faith secret of the heart, but through our public acknowledgment, capture and celebration of life with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the heart of those who openly put their trust and faith in Jesus, the Son of God. Rejoice, and again I say rejoice, said the apostle Paul.

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