A couple of months ago, I got 50 bucks and a Jimmy John’s Italian sandwich for turning various switches, adjusting certain channels, flipping on some lights and generally standing around. Now I know what you’re thinking, and, no, I wasn’t fighting aliens in outer space. I was merely doing sound for a wedding. Can you believe it? I got paid $50 for doing sound at a wedding. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful (because I am not complaining), and I don’t mean to sound useless (because I did a good job and did everything in my power to earn the money). Everything went superbly.
A wedding and its preceding rehearsal are kind of funny to me in a certain sense, and I thought about this as I attended the rehearsal on Friday night. The bride of this particular wedding was very sweet, but also a bit of … a…. a …what-do-you-call-it … BRIDEZILLA. Again, she was wonderful and charming, but she knew how she wanted her wedding. We went through the rehearsal analyzing every detail, running through every facet, making sure everyone was clear and able to run smoothly for tomorrow’s ceremony. We were adjusting cues, plans, plants and all sorts of things, wanting it to be perfect tomorrow.
The wedding day rolls around, and the bride is out in front of the sanctuary in her wedding dress an hour and a half before the wedding. She’s adjusting the ivy on the alter, fixing the candles, making sure everything is just perfect.
When everything is planned and adjusted, the processional begins; the bride comes out looking as pretty as every bride does. She places her hand from her father’s hand to the groom’s. She listens intently to the words of encouragement and insight spoken by the pastor. The single bridesmaid continues to adjust her dress. Rings are exchanged. She lights the unity candle as a passionate tenor is gently singing a piano-accompanied Chris Rice song. And then she says her vows to her fiancée, looks into his eyes and begins to gently weep in love, hope and thankfulness for this wonderful blessing. And as I saw this moment of love and joy, I couldn’t help but think how all the organizing, all the planning, all the adjusting and analyzing, all of the scheduling, all of the ivy, all of the candles, all those cues, her wedding dress, even all those witnesses on that day must have simply faded away until it was her, him and God.
I don’t write this to sound romantic or quixotic, but merely to state what a funny people we seem to be. We are a people designed and destined to meet our Creator, to worship Him, acknowledge Him in our lives. But we sometimes have, it seems, an overemphasis on bringing ceremony and order to our worships; we try to organize and schedule as if God hasn’t shown up to the theater yet.
I suffer from the same thing. Now, I am not saying that ceremony is bad; in fact, I think that it is a good thing at times. But I’m being honest in saying that in every worshipful encounter with God that I have had, all that ceremony goes away like it must have for that bride, and I am stripped bare before God in humbleness and reverence, completely undignified. I don’t care if I am wearing “church clothes,” and I most definitely do not think that God does either. But the Bible is quite consistent in its deliberation about the eternal significance of the heart, and the heart does not speak in the language of ceremony but of passion.
King David was a man, who presents us with a true example of what an encounter with our God is really like as he danced naked in the street. Countless times in the Bible, when people are confronted by God’s presence they do not gently bow their heads or wait for the next redemption hymn, but they strip themselves naked, throw on some sack cloth and wail and sing for days. When we have a true encounter with God our whole world is ripped a part. God changes our lives. We are different. I think that ceremony helps us focus collectively, but we can never forget to let the heart speak its own beautiful, God-inspired language.
In Isaiah, it says that every knee will bow when our Savior returns. We will not have a church service with big signs that say “Welcome Jesus!” This will be a different type of wedding day, entirely. We will be brought to our knees in reverence, unable to contain our worship and any sort of ceremony will seem tedious and annoying. I want to live today with the passionate reverence of a bride, who will always speak in the language of the heart in that moment of complete worship.