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The Joy of Eternal Love with Our Lord

December 15, 2011

Today is the Sunday of joy – Gaudete or “Rejoice” Sunday, in which we share the joy of our hearts’ being prepared for Jesus – of the way’s being prepared, as we said last week, so that there are no obstacles preventing our King’s coming to us. Last week, we remembered that he is the King of love, who comes like the shepherd who uses his strength to bring protection and rest to the sheep, and carry the weary sheep close to his heart.

This week, we remember that our relationship with Our Lord is of a degree of intimacy, his commitment to us is so great, that Shepherd imagery is inadequate to describe it. In John 1:29, John the Baptist uses the imagery of marriage, saying: “‘He who has the bride is the bridegroom.’” Later on in John’s Gospel, Jesus does the same. So does the Apostle Paul. And in the awesome glimpse of heaven we are given in the climax of the Book of Revelation, we read: “And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (21:2).”

All of us men who have been married remember the joyful moment when we saw our bride coming down the aisle, and we could see that there were no barriers left to our being united together in love. THIS is the joy that Our Lord’s coming brings!

But there’s more …

Today I turned “the big 5-0.” In honour of my birthday, Gwen Stogran gave me a wonderful book entitled Old Age is Always Fifteen Years Older Than I am.

The book has many funny sayings I enjoyed. Here are four:
– “There are three periods in life: youth, middle age, and ‘how well you look’” (Nelson Rockefeller).
 – “Middle age is when your old classmates are so gray and wrinkled and bald they don’t recognise you”  (Bennett Cerf).
– “You’re only young once, but you can be immature all your life” (Charles Scroggins).
– And “An archaeologist is the best husband any woman can have; the older she gets, the more interested he is in her” (Agatha Christie). I don’t recommend that husbands commit this last one to memory!

It also many deep and moving statements. One of my favourites is by Thackeray:
“To see a young couple loving each other is no wonder;
but to see an old couple loving each other is the best of all.”

We have the indescribable joy of, if you like, the marriage celebration with Our Lord. But we also have the joy of being with him, sharing love together, not just for a day, a year, or even a millennium, but for all eternity!

(adapted from my sermon at our December 11 Services; the photo is of a couple named Pauline and Scott, from the blog of Red Box Pictures)

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