I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
I've had the opportunity this month to attend two weddings. At today's wedding I was struck by a brief moment before the bride walked down the aisle. The doors at the back of the church were open and each of the bride's maids had gone through the doors and processed to the front of the church. Then the doors were closed for a few moments before the bride appeared.
Those few brief seconds that the doors were closed while the bride prepared to walk down the aisle caught my attention, especially with my recent essay on II Corinthians 11 fresh in my mind. It's a big moment when the bride is revealed and she makes her way down the aisle. In both of the weddings I attended this month, while the rest of the church was standing and watching the beautiful bride come down the aisle, I took a moment to turn around and look at the groom's reaction as he saw his bride for the first time on their wedding day. Sometimes the groom is smiling from ear to ear; other times the groom is so happy tears well up in his eyes. I'd like to think it is also exciting for the bride to see her groom for the first time in his handsome suit or tuxedo.
I think this tradition has some meaning. It has nothing to do with superstition or bad luck seeing the bride before the wedding. Brides put a massive amount of effort into looking their best on the wedding day. Countless hours are spent preparing - sometimes agonizing over - every detail. Her dress is obvious, but she also prepares her hair, her jewelry, her shoes, her makeup, her flowers. Hopefully the effort she puts into preparing her outward appearance is a reflection of the effort she's put into preparing herself inwardly for this moment as well. The moment the wedding begins is one of those moments that many of us dream of and prepare for our entire lives. It is one of those single moments that will be burned into our memories forever.
The moment the bride appears at the beginning of the wedding is an image for the moment the Church will appear before Christ at the wedding feast of the Lamb. We should put as much effort into preparing ourselves for the moment we appear before Christ, ready to become one with him forever, as we put into preparing for our wedding day. We should put more effort into this moment. The anticipation in those few moments as the bride stands behind the closed doors at the back of the church ready to be revealed to her groom is a reflection of our anticipation as we await our eternal union with our God. It is worth reflecting on how prepared we are for that moment. If you appeared before Christ tomorrow, would you be ready? Is your white garment still as white as the day it was made clean at your baptism? If not, maybe today is a good day to go to reconciliation and get that garment bright as snow once again.
The reaction of the groom seeing his bride for the first time is exciting to see. He has been waiting for that moment for years or even decades. Can you even imagine what Christ's reaction will be when he first sees the Church prepared as a bride adorned for her husband? He has been waiting thousands of years for the moment! How exciting will it be when we see our groom for the first time? For now, we live in the moments of anticipation as we await that amazing moment!