This is the week of the wedding. Over two billion people are expected to watch Kate Middleton's four-minute walk down the aisle at Westminster Abbey to exchange vows with Prince William. When she departs, she will no longer be referred to as Kate. She will be known as Catherine, most likely Princess Catherine depending upon the Queen's choice of title.
Weddings are big business. Families with limited resources borrow against their home equity and their annuity in order to see their daughters adorned for the monumental moment. According to a Bridal Association of America, the average wedding in the United States cost slightly over $30,000. The most expensive wedding on record? Vanisha Mittal, whose father owns the largest steel company, to British investment banker Amit Bhatia on June 22, 2009. The cost: more than $60 million. The tab for Prince William and Kate’s wedding will run close to $50 million. Of course love cannot be measured in money and the cost of a wedding has nothing to do with the success of a marriage. Nonetheless, the wedding is one time when everyone is willing to splurge, to throw caution and check book to the wind in an effort to create and capture this one perfect moment.
Perhaps that is why the Bible uses the wedding imagery to help us understand our relationship to God. It is extravagant. The Bible describes the church as the “bride of Christ” adorned for her husband. Of course, the Bible’s reference to “church” has nothing to do with denominations, organizations, institutions or buildings. When the Bible talks about the church, it is talking about people, “a people after God’s own choosing.” It is talking about you and me. The wedding image is included to help us know how much God cherishes us and how much he is willing to pay, not just for a perfect moment, but for a perfect relationship. The wedding image is the visible expression of John 3:16.
As the royal wedding week unfolds, there is much speculation about Kate’s appearance. Somehow, in our WikiLeaks world, no one has been able to discover what the royal wedding dress looks like. She has kept it secret. As much as the world is abuzz about these things, Kate likely has little concern about how she will appear to the guests, the media or the world. When I walked my daughter down the aisle at her wedding, she was focused on only one person, her future husband who stood at the altar waiting for her. I suspect Kate is only concerned about how she will appear to her fiancé, Prince William.
So it is with our faith. Our focus is not on the world or the opinion of others. Our focus is on Jesus as the bridegroom. The book of Revelation describes it like this: “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 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.’” (Rev. 19:6-7). With every act of kindness, goodness, mercy, justice, compassion and faith, we prepare our selves as the bride for our bridegroom. Like Kate’s wedding dress, most of these things will be done in secret to be revealed when the bridegroom appears.