Why all the Hubbub?

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.


Valentine’s Day. Seven days. Men, order flowers – now!

In that spirit, a question: What was your dating experience was like? One word describes mine: lame. The ladies man, I was not. I’d like to say I kept them guessing. Trouble is they weren’t wondering in the first place. Thankfully, God brought rescue to my bachelorhood in the form of absolute wonderfulness (cue the sighs, or gags).

Fond memories surround my courting of Katrina. A true romantic, I took her to Terminator 2 on our second date. I then pulled-out all the stops. We spent night after night at my parent’s house watching mindless TV shows. Oh, yeah! Together. Sitting close. It was terrific…at least for me. For her, a little pizzazz in our shared experiences would have been nice. You now see why my dating life was lame.

Our relationship transitioned to the long distance type. Katrina lived in a mediocre apartment in Grand Rapids. I roomed with four other guys in a dumpy, spider-infested, un-insulated, turn-of-the-century excuse for a house at Michigan Tech. I was love-struck. I lost days – maybe weeks – of productive work. Daydreaming was my primary activity. Engineering studies ran a distant second. When I wasn’t solving differential equations I wrote letters to Katrina. When I wasn’t writing, I was reading her letters. And re-reading. And talking on the phone. Laughing, crying, and pining for each other. Absence, indeed, makes the heart grow fonder. No matter the circumstance, my thoughts boomeranged back to Katrina. In the words of Pink Floyd, I was “comfortably numb” in my affection for her. I was, and am, infatuated.

Ah, memories. Looking back reminds me of this quote: “I couldn’t get Him (Jesus) out of my head. Still can’t. I spent three solid days thinking about Him. The more He bothered me, the less I could forget Him. And the more I learned about Him, the less I wanted to leave Him.” (Life of Pi, 57) Sounds a bit like dating. Thoughts always churning, speculating, dreaming and hoping. Near obsession at times. What we think informs our attitudes, actions, beliefs and desires. As Katrina and I pondered and prayed about our relationship, we were moved into conversations – conversations that steadily brought us to the realization that we would form a household together.

John Owen said, “How can we say we love Christ and spiritual things if we do not spend much time thinking about them? That which you set your heart on is that which you will think about most.” (Spiritual Mindedness, 238) It’s easy to think a lot about my wife. My kids. My finances. My project list. My worries. My career. The next vacation. What people think about me.

But I am a Christ-follower: a Christian. My thoughts should reflect that. That’s challenging. How often is Jesus part of my self talk? Is He part of my scheming and planning; my hopes and dreams? Do I trust Him fully with my triumphs and failures? Or do I think of Him only when I need something? Is He my lucky rabbit’s foot or the Lord of my life?

I want Jesus to get stuck in my head. To rule my thoughts. To bother me. To distract me from myself. To draw me into His story. I want to learn things about my Savior that create an ever increasing desire for Him and His Kingdom. An infatuation, of sorts. How about you?

Don’t Be Ridiculous!

We are a homeschooling family. I offer that without judgment, expectation, agenda or calls for sympathy. Instead, I give it to provide context for the email exchange below that occurred this morning between Katrina and me.
Email #1…
From: Katrina
To: Chris
Our children are ridiculous people.
Don’t come home.
I may need to get out my disintegration ray gun.
It may not be pretty.

Email #2…
From: Chris
To: Katrina

Staying away.
Leave a pile of food and meet me at S’bucks.

Email #3…
To: Chris
I’m leaving now.
Although virtual, exchanges like this are vital to our marriage, our children, and our sanity. The pressure lessens with a bit of humor and shared commiseration. Our kids can be ridiculous…but then we can be too. In some ways, I feel like I never mature beyond ridiculousness (is that a word?). And often in the unveiling of my children’s ridiculousness, I see a mirror of my own which can be humbling. Humble parenting is not a bad place to work from.

Finally, for those who are concerned, the disintegration ray gun was created only in our imagination for the purpose of coping and said creators stand far from the actuality of putting anything like that into use. Ever.