Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Bride's Beauty

This past week, I was up in Canada for my friend Megan’s wedding.  This is a friend who loves big dresses and great hair, who thought a lot about what her make-up and accessories would be because she wanted to look beautiful. Even her sister’s “Maid of Honor speech” made reference to her stylish sensibilities and aesthetic interests. So it made sense that all nine (yes, nine!) of her bridesmaids were giggling about seeing her in THE dress and about how great she looked during the photo shoot, etc. etc. 

I got a pretty good view of her during the ceremony because as the shortest bridesmaid, I got to be right in the front. That means I got to see every sequin gleaming, every eyelash fluttering. But in the middle of their ceremony, she followed her husband to a station off to the side of the church where he washed her feet. Then, she (and all her tulle!) got down on her knees and washed his feet. At that moment, I watched her face turn away from the admiring crowd and her dress get squashed on the floor. I watched her perfectly manicured hands scrub hairy feet (no offense, Mr. Gardner) as she risked a stain or spill on her expensive and important outfit. I watched her do these things in order to serve her beloved and to seek his good. 

The “foot-washing” in their ceremony was a symbol of their commitment to serve and sacrifice for each other after the wedding day is over. But what about all the fuss of getting dressed up to begin with? Isn’t that a symbol too? Of what? Watching Megan wash Peter’s feet, I felt that I understood just a little bit better what all those layers of fluff are supposed to represent in the first place.

The Bible calls husbands to love their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might make her holy, having cleansed her…so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

As I watched Peter, Megan’s earthly husband, lead the way in sacrifice and love toward his bride in washing her feet, I thought of Christ’s self-giving toward those who belong to Him. Then as Megan followed Peter’s example by serving him, I thought of the church—Christ’s “bride”— being made holy, Christ’s cleansing love and sacrifice being put on display as it transforms her into a spouse who can reciprocate in servanthood and self-giving.  In other words, the church’s “beauty” is her holiness and Christ-likeness; her spotless splendor is the beauty of love and service that reflects the love of her Savior.

So, it made sense to see a beautiful bride kneeling known in an act of selflessness, because the spotless, shimmering, white that arrayed her represented that very thing—her self-giving love, made possible by the love extended to her—the love that made her a bride.  As that reality washed over me, I couldn’t help but feel that there, on her hands and knees in the service of another, she looked more beautiful and more glorious than at any other point in the day.

What does that have to do with you? Whether married or single, male or female, with baggage or without, Christ extends His self-giving love to you; love that would make you His bride. It is His cleansing sacrifice that would wash you clean and array you in white— “spotless, and without wrinkle”— no matter what you’ve done or what has been done to you. And it is His unconditional love and commitment that would transform your shame into splendor, inside and out. 

The beauty of holiness His love bestows would be much, much more beautiful than a sparkling dress worn for a day.  It would be a restored and transformed life that will be radiant for eternity. 


jonquilles.sauvages said...

Hannah, thank you for describing what I was not able to see from the distance of Montreal. I have not only seen Megan's sacrificial love for her now husband(!!!), but also for me as a friend, and for all those she encounters in the journey of life. So excited to know that Megan and Peter will be loving Christ, loving each other, and loving all those their lives touch...as a beautiful team.

Alice Matthews said...

Hannah thanks for sharing this post so that I can share with my friends your elegant words that express what happened that day. It was a joyous day and I was so glad to be there to see both Peter and Megan demonstrate that they want to sacrificially serve each other.