I confess. I watched. But only for five minutes. Really.
My five minutes was likely far below the average view-time of the other two billion who witnessed the marriage of Prince William and Miss Catherine (Kate) Middleton. It was certainly a grand spectacle. Katrina and our girls, and eventually the boys (TV is like a bug zapper for children) partook of the festivities. I did my best to resist the pull. I really don’t care about Kate’s dress – the cut or who made it. I have no time to spare for comparing this wedding to that of Charles and Diana. And beyond the terrific name, I don’t need to know about the personal life and availability of Pippa Middleton.
Now before I’m pigeon-holed or stereo-typed as an insensitive male, I freely admit that I had a small attraction to the ceremony. I love tradition. I appreciate a bit of pomp and formality. And the wee bit of English blood in my European pedigree engenders a sense of pride for things British. Mix this with the rarity of a royal wedding and I succumbed to the pressure to gaze.
I found the whole event on the brink of being overdone. But it was beautiful. Powerful. Romantic. A fairy-tale brought to life.
My five-minute peek at pageantry resulted in some serious pondering. I was curious, and somewhat perplexed as to why 1/3 of the global population would watch this event. As I continued to think, this question came to mind: what do we value more – ceremony or covenant?
This question is not intended to downplay extravagant ceremony or belittle those who enjoyed watching the wedding. Of all the things to make a big deal about, the joining of a man and woman in covenantal marriage is worthy of our best. A wedding ceremony signals the birth of a sacred, unbreakable, unconditional union. To that I say, “Huzzah!” (there’s that English blood, again.)
Yet, when thinking about our enthrallment with William and Kate’s marriage, I feel sadness. Sadness for a family that is royal, yet tragic. Sadness about death. I’m sad for two princes whose parents couldn’t keep their covenant. Sad for our fascination with, and consumption of celebrity. Sad that a day of happiness is darkened by speculation over the staying power of vows. Sad for the incongruity of the venue, the spectators and the participants. Sad that the ceremony was a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
But sadness is not my primary or predominant feeling. Last week’s royal wedding was a reason to celebrate. To be grateful to God for the sacred covenant of marriage. A covenant that binds the union of one man and one woman. A union in which the uniqueness of each gender joins in oneness that brings more fullness to their collective humanity. Oneness that offers a tiny taste of authentic, transparent, unconditional love – the kind of love God offers us.
When a couple marries, we should celebrate with great flair and revelry because of what marriage symbolizes. Our earthly marriages are but the opening act to the grandest marriage of all – the marriage of Jesus Christ to His Bride, the Church. In that union the faith of followers of Jesus Christ will find consummation as we join in perfect unity to God himself.
That future, divine marriage is why our hearts are drawn to wedding ceremonies like William and Kate’s. We long for the beauty of the bride. For the strength of the groom. Our hearts yearn for the oneness of relating to our Creator in a perfect union. A union built on the eternal, God-backed covenant of salvation by grace, through faith. That covenant is everything. I stake my life on it. How about you?
The royal wedding was an amazing ceremony. But don’t miss the covenant it commemorated and celebrated. May our marriages on earth be pleasing foretastes of the greatest marriage yet to come.
Help me to wait patiently, silently upon thee,
not to be enraged or speak unadvisedly.
Let thy mercy follow me while I live,
and give me aid to resign myself to thy will.
Take my heart and hold it in thy hand;
write upon it reverence to thyself with an
inscription that time and eternity cannot erase.
To thy grace and the care of thy covenant
I commit myself, in sickness, and in health,
for thou hast overcome the world,
fulfilled the law,
finished justifying righteousness,
swallowed up death in victory,
and taken all power everywhere.
Mark this covenant with thine own blood
in the court of forgiving mercy;
Attach unto it thy name in which I believe,
for it is sealed by my unworthy mortal hand.
-The Valley of Vision, Covenant.