Have you ever wondered why we stand up for the bride at the beginning of a wedding?
It’s easy to assume that we stand to honor the bride as she arrives, resplendent in beauty. But that’s not actually the reason we leap to our feet. For 2,000 years of Church history, the bride has been ushered into the church behind an acolyte carrying a cross.
So we stand, not for the bride, but rather for the Cross of Christ (even if many have forgotten the real reason for this powerful act).
We stand, not for human beauty, but for the beauty of Jesus (Psalm 27:4).
We stand, not to honor a woman on her wedding day, but to honor the love God has showered on us through His Son (Ephesians 1:3; 5:2).
We stand, not for human glory, but for the glory of the Divine, shown in fullness in the death of Jesus on the Cross for the sins of the world and His mighty victory over the grave (Hebrews 1:3; 1 Corinthians 1:18).
What does it mean for us to stand up for the Cross of Christ in the midst of this broken world? The world in which we live tells us that we are supposed to stand up, not for the Cross, but for ourselves.
The last five hundred years of human philosophy, sociology, and psychology have embraced the falsehood that we are accidents of random chance. We’ve been taught to believe that we are just bunches of atoms globbed together for a few brief years, rather than men and women created by a loving God in His image for His good purposes. And, sadly, those who do not believe in the goodness and beauty and purposes of God are left to fight for nothing but their own self-created sense of happiness, their self-defined rights, and their self-crafted identity.
With no objective meaning given to their lives from outside of themselves (from God), they are left to staring at their own navels, trying to figure out why they are so sad; why they feel oppressed and angry; why they are so easily hurt by anyone who disagrees with their ever-shifting attempts at self-expression; why they feel confused, lost, and unfilled; why they are so afraid of death; and why they feel so befuddled by the fact that no amount of money or sex or likes on their social media pages are ever enough to satisfy the deep need they have in lives life for meaning, for purpose, and for direction. And though they may look happy on the outside – airbrushed and botoxed and filtered and smiling on Instagram – inside they have a God-shaped hole that only Jesus can fill.
They stand up for themselves – but find that they fall down, over and over again and no one is there to pick them up.
But God is there!
He loves the world He created and has sent us into it to stand up for the good news of Jesus. He has sent us with the message of the Cross, which is the only truth that can lift up our brothers and sisters and set them back on their feet. We are called to point the world to Jesus, high and lifted up (John 12:32), for through the Cross God longs to bring salvation to all who will believe (1 Timothy 2:4). We are called to point the world to God Who made us all, Who is the only source of truth and beauty, and Who gives meaning and purpose to every human life (Isaiah 45:19).
So the next time you stand up at a wedding, rejoice that the bride is radiant on her wedding day. But rejoice all the more that the God Who made you and redeemed you has called you to stand up for Cross of Christ, for through His Cross, salvation has come to all who will believe (John 3:16).
The Very Reverend Andrew M. Rowell is rector at Christchurch Anglican on Vaughn Road, Montgomery. Visit in person or check them out online at www.christchurchanglican.net.