A wedding is no private affair, but the cosmic union of heaven and earth

HUSBANDS, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Ephesians 5:25-27

**

A wedding in an Orthodox Church

“Take up their crowns in thy Kingdom, unspotted and unblemished, and keep them without reproach unto the ages of ages.”

**

WHAT better day for a wedding?

Not Saturday but Sunday. Not a private affair, discreetly tucked away on a quiet afternoon; but the holy mystery of the Church, proclaimed loudly and clearly from the rooftops. Not a ‘family gathering’ but the gathering of our family in God.

If we looked on this wedding with clouded eyes, we could ask: ‘Where is the organ playing “Here comes the bride”? Where is the bridal veil, the father of the bride, all the pretty bridesmaids and grooms? Where is the vow “Till death do us part”? Isn’t this ritual just part of the laws of nature: birth, marriage, death – “hatched, matched, dispatched”?’

But if we have eyes to see, we realise that Mother Nature is not in charge. Nature, and death, have no power – no authority – to part those that we unite this day. This is no private affair, in a quaint old historic church or a chapel in the valley. This is the cosmic union of heaven and earth.

If our eyes are clouded, all that we can see is nature: a man and a woman. But if we have eyes to see, we see the living icon of Christ, the eternal Bridegroom, and the icon of his Bride, our Holy Mother the Church.

If all that we see is ‘just another wedding’, all that we can offer is the cheap wine, the poor wine that all too quickly runs out. But if we have eyes to see, we toast them in the good wine, the rarest of all wines: the Blood of Christ, conqueror of death, who unites himself this day to his eternal Bride.

St Botulph Antiochian Orthodox Church, London: Eyes to See (Matthew 9.1-8 / John 2.1-12) (Source).

**

O GOD, our God, who wast present in Cana of Galilee, and blessed the marriage there, bless also these thy servants, who in your providence have been joined together in the communion of marriage. Bless their comings in and their goings out. Fill their life with good things. Take up their crowns [here the Priest taketh the crowns from the heads of bride and bridegroom, and layeth them upon the table] in thy Kingdom, unspotted and unblemished, and keep them without reproach unto the ages of ages.

From the Crowning, at the close of the ceremony. My amateur translation, from Analogion.

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