Tag Archives: Tradition

It’s not cool to write your own wedding vows

I am that traditional, liturgical, historical-stuff is still cool kind of pastor. With that presupposition, imagine what goes through my mind when a young couple filled with zeal for nothing historical asks me if they can write their own wedding vows. “It will be really special,” they say. The reality is it will be really special if they gave up such an idea without having me waste my time in persuading them that it is an incredibly stupid idea. But they are young. And I have been gifted with the gift of patience. So, I tell them that there is a 99.9% chance they will regret this decision as they mature in their Christian walk and that I am God’s ambassador to keep them from joining that great number of disappointed married couples.

If you are reading this pondering whether you should write your own vows, ponder no longer. It is a horrible idea. There is a high likelihood that your youth pastor may even encourage you to write it out. He may even point to the old fashion vows as archaic. But by now you know better. Tell him, or better yet, give him a copy of an ancient Protestant wedding and tell him that you would like to use that ol’ fashion vow that reads:

“I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith [or] pledge myself to you.”

Please do not allow the latest trend to minimize the reverence of a wedding ceremony. Wedding ceremonies are not a recent invention. The church has given it its highest respect. Honor it. Come with no innovation to it. Submit to it, enjoy it, and taste the seriousness and joy of your life together.

The Ascension of our Lord: A Brief Introduction

The Church celebrates the Ascension of our Lord this Thursday. Since most churches are not able to have Thursday services, traditionally many of them celebrate Ascension on Sunday.

The Ascension of Jesus is barely mentioned in the evangelical vocabulary. We make room for his birth, death, and resurrection, but we tend to put a period where God puts a comma.

If the resurrection was the beginning of Jesus’ enthronement, then the ascension is the establishment of his enthronement. The Ascension activates Christ’s victory in history. The Great Commission is only relevant because of the Ascension. Without the Ascension the call to baptize and disciple would be meaningless. It is on the basis of Jesus’ enthronement at the right-hand of the Father, that we image-bearers can de-throne rulers through the power and authority of our Great Ruler, Jesus Christ.

The Ascension then is a joyful event, because it is the genesis of the Church’s triumph over the world. Further, it defines us as a people of glory and power, not of weakness and shame. As Jesus is ascended, we too enter into his ascension glory (Col. 3:1) This glory exhorts us to embrace full joy. As Alexander Schmemann once wrote:

“The Church was victorious over the world through joy…and she will lose the world when she loses its joy… Of all accusations against Christians, the most terrible one was uttered by Nietzsche when he said that Christians had no joy.”[1]

But this joy is given to us by a bodily Lord.

We know that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. He is ruling and reigning from his heavenly throne. He has given the Father the kingdom, and now he is preserving, progressing, and perfecting his kingdom. He is bringing all things under subjection.

We know that when he was raised from the dead, Jesus was raised bodily. But Gnostic thinking would have us assume that since Jesus is in heaven he longer needs a physical body. But the same Father who raised Jesus physically, also has his Son sitting beside him in a physical body.  As one author observed:

Jesus has gone before us in a way we may follow through the Holy Spirit whom he has sent, because the way is in his flesh, in his humanity.[1]

Our Lord is in his incarnation body at the right hand of the Father. This has all sorts of implications for us in worship. We are worshipping a God/Man; one who descended in human flesh and who ascended in human flesh. He is not a disembodied spirit. He is truly God and truly man.

As we consider and celebrate the Ascension of our blessed Lord, remember that you are worshiping the One who understands your needs, because he has a body just like you; he understands your joy because he has a body just like you.

[1] Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World. Paraphrased

[2] Gerrit Dawson, see http://apologus.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/ascension-and-jesus-humanity/