I think that in the future, when I look back on this academic year of 2011/12, I will remember it as a year of reading, and talking, and writing, and thinking, and revelling in the wonderful truth of the fact that Jesus, the Bridegroom, has made the Church his Bride.
The year began with Forum, and a training track on espousal and adoption theology; I went on to study Hosea with one student and Revelation with another (both of which are chock-full of bride and groom chat); I’ve looked at Ruth (with the bridegroom, Boaz, redeeming Ruth – and Naomi) three times – staff conference, Durham SLOBS, and New Word Alive; I preached from Hosea 2 myself at the Christ Church Women’s Conference, back in March, and read the wonderful, ‘Of Lovers and Whores‘, as I prepared; we’re looking at Ephesians in Newcastle SLOBS, with the beautiful verses about husbands and wives, and Christ and the Church, in chapter 5; and today, and team days, we had the absolute delight to hear from Mike Reeves on Richard Sibbes and Song of Songs.
This is the year of hearing again and again and again about being wooed by the beautiful Lord Jesus, and I have been enjoying it so much, I thought it only fair to spend at least one Feminine Friday sharing a few of my recent thoughts on it.
When I spoke on Hosea at the women’s conference I mentioned, in my introduction, that I love the fact that God, in his word, has provided us with couple of wonderful pictures of the way that he relates to us, and we to Him: one is masculine (Father and Son), and one feminine (Bridegroom and Bride). The thing is (and this was a lot of the reason why we had ‘Preparing for the Bridegroom’ as our conference theme), although we hear (and sing and read) lots about the Father/Son stuff, we tend to hear (and sing and read) a great deal less about the Bridegroom/Bride stuff.
That’s certainly my experience anyway, and my assumption – please feel free to disagree (and comment!) if you think I’ve got it wrong – is that this is because most of the people who are preaching (and writing) are men, and they struggle more with seeing themselves as a Bride. Thoughts?
The thing is, Bride and Groom stuff is woven through the whole of scripture, and is so foundational to our understanding of who we are, and what Christ has done for us. After all, it’s only as we are espoused/betrothed/united with him, (as he shares all that is his with us) that we come to find ourselves adopted by the Father.
The picture of the wedding is central to everything, and I think we need to hear it more than the degree to which it has featured in the 11 years I was a Christian before this one!
Anyway, I am very much enjoying this year of being surrounded by espousal theology, and hoping that it continues beyond the end of this term. But for now let me leave you with this treasure from Song of Songs, a verse and a truth that has made my heart sing especially loudly today:
“You have captured my heart, my sister, my bride.” 4:9a
The wonderful Lord Jesus says that of us. We have captured his heart, he does not simply tolerate us, or pity us. He desires us, he loves us.
In summary: so overjoyed to know the Bridegroom.