~posted by Mika
The whole world has indulged in a truly ridiculous fascination for the past month – this real-life fairy tale of a common girl marrying a future King. Kate Middleton had to be the most adored woman in the world last week! We try to imagine what it would be like to be the center of such pageantry and attention. And who knows how long we would have ridden the bliss of their nuptials had it not been interrupted by the dramatic death of bin Laden? I am, of course, a romantic girl, and while I did NOT wake up at 4am to watch the wedding – I did catch up on the details of the dress and the kiss just like everyone else.
I’ve noticed, however, that the last month has grown a fascination in me for a different bride. More than a fascination, really – a deep admiration and rekindled love. Growing up in church, I’ve felt very familiar with the “bride of Christ.” These words brought images to mind of a church building or a faceless body dismembered with its “many parts.” Where is the romance or attraction of that?! But I have been introduced to many faces lately that are showing me how beautiful she is and – honestly! – what a grand romance between her and our King Jesus!
Our itineration is taking us somewhere new every week. One Sunday, we were with a tiny congregation in “nowhere” rural, West TN. Almost every person sitting on the pews was over 65. They all sat around after the service ended looking at our pictures, asking questions about Africa… their aged faces showing a love for people that they could never cross an ocean to love. So, they honored us with the privilege of being their arms extended. And they were so beautiful to me.
Last weekend, we met a very young body of believers at Murray State University in KY. We were able to share a meal with young college students who are part of the Chi Alpha ministry there. It had been awhile since I was surrounded by so much laughter, joy, and energetic unity. We listened to their stories of God’s transforming love… memories of missions trips, prayer times… and dreams of where God was going to take them in their futures. Some stories made me laugh so hard my belly hurt. Some stories made me cry. And they were so beautiful to me!
I recently watched a video sent to us by our dear friends serving the persecuted church in a communist Southeast-Asian country. It was at a secret church gathering, and the adorable children were singing a song (complete with motions!) in their native language. Heart-warming doesn’t even begin to describe it! Today, I ate lunch with my cousin who is on staff at a huge mega-church in Birmingham. She and her husband praised the church for its outreach ministry – thousands were saved at their Easter outreach services a couple weeks ago. Two VERY different churches living with two very different realities. But aren’t they both so beautiful?
We spent ten years being part of our church in the role of pastors. Now, we have no title to distinguish us – except “moochinary,” which Thomas likes to call us. It is so refreshing to recognize that being part of the body doesn’t have anything to do with having a title! I am committed to the church more than I have ever been. I know that I NEED the church more than I ever have. I’m even infatuated with the fellowship of people who call themselves Christians worldwide. And I’m reminded that we can’t define what the bride should look like. Don’t we like to belittle or disregard the image that we aren’t familiar with? She is wholly unique and ever changing. No, she isn’t perfect and rarely even radiant – because she is HUMAN. But God of creation is longing for her, captivated by her, jealous for her, courting her until the day He marries her. Wow! – what a love story! William and Kate have nothing on this one.
" ... just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." eph. 6: 25-27