Tag Archives: Bride

That’s Qadosh

Would you rather listen? Subscribe to The Wayfarer Podcast Now on Your Favorite App!

Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy.
Psalm 99:9 (NIV)

While being in quarantine has frustrated my extroverted need for interpersonal interaction over the past ten days, I have also been mindful each day to appreciate the opportunity it has afforded Wendy and me to spend lots of time with our grandson, Milo, who normally resides across the pond in Scotland. Yesterday, my exercise monitor informed me that I’d set a new personal record for exercise in one day. If you’re having a hard time getting into that New Year’s workout routine, I suggest finding someone to loan you their three-year-old for a few days.

One of the more endearing developments during our extended time together has been Milo’s desire to go to sleep at night in Papa and Yaya’s bed. Last night, Wendy and I climbed onto the bed with Milo between us. We read three books together, then turned out the light. We sang softly in the darkness. Wendy reached over Milo and held my hand as we lay and sang with Milo nestled between us. Even with my hearing impairment, I could hear Milo’s deep breaths as he drifted to sleep. We then whispered a prayer over him before slipping out of the room.

That, my friend, was a special moment. I wanted to just stay in that moment forever. If only I could bottle it up and hold onto it. I immediately knew that it was a memory I will remember and cherish always.

Today’s chapter, Psalm 99, continues in this section of ancient Hebrew praise songs. They were likely used for liturgical purposes to call the Hebrews to worship in the temple. The lyricist of Psalm 99 layered this call to praise with metaphorical meaning that casual readers in English would never pick up.

Remember in yesterday’s post/podcast I shared that “everything is connected?” The Hebrews found spiritual connections with numbers. Each number had meaning. Seven was a number that meant “completeness.” Three was a number spiritually connected to the divine. There are three stanzas, each with four verses (4+3=7). Seven times the songwriter uses the Hebrew name of God, Yahweh. Seven times he uses Hebrew independent personal pronouns. Three times he refers to God as “holy” (Hebrew: qadosh).

I confess that “holy” is a word, and a spiritual concept, that I failed to fully understand, or flat out got wrong, for most of my journey. The concept of holiness as communicated by the institutional churches I’ve been involved in my whole life made holiness out to be simple moral purity in the utmost sense. The equation was “no sin” plus “going to church” equaled “holiness” (x + y = z). Which meant that holiness, unless you were Mother Theresa, was pretty much unattainable.

I have come to understand, however, that qadosh has a much larger meaning. There are moments in life in which everyone in the room knows there is something meaningful, something special, something larger that is happening in the moment.

Our daughter, Taylor, has an audiotape of the moment she entered the world in the delivery room. You hear her squeaky cries. You hear Dr. Shaw announce it‘s a girl. You hear me talking to her on the warming table. That moment is qadosh.

Last October I stood with our daughter, Madison, in a courtyard. We watched the congregation stand and turn toward us. The beautiful bride, whom I taught to walk, I now walked down the aisle to “give her away” to the man she loves. People smiled and wept. That moment was qadosh.

I sat in the dark room of the nursing home as my grandmother’s life ebbed away with each strained breath. Through the wee hours I kept watch over her. I held her hand. I sang her favorite hymn. I read the final chapter of the Great Story to her and I realized in the moment that it was like reading a travel brochure for the trip she was about to take. That moment was qadosh.

Last night as Wendy and I held hands and hovered over our peaceful, sleeping grandson lying in our bed. We sang. We prayed blessings over him. It was a holy moment. That’s qadosh.

Throughout the Great Story, when God made a special appearance (theologians call that a theophany) the person to whom God appears is mesmerized, speechless, dumbfounded, or overwhelmed. To be in the presence of God, described by lyricist of Psalm 99 as the royal King of Kings. That moment is qadosh.

When the psalmist calls me to worship, he’s not religiously demanding that I dutifully “go to church” in an effort to attain some pinnacle of moral purity. In fact, when I meditate on the fullness of all the qadosh moments I’ve recalled, then all my old notions of what it means to be “holy” are silly in their triteness. The psalmist is calling me into the mysterious, beautiful, meaningful moment of qadosh.

Want to Read More?

Click on the image, or click here, to be taken to a simple, visual index of all the posts in this series from the book of Psalms.

There is also a list of recent chapter-a-day series indexed by book.

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

You can also access my audio and video messages, as well.

tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

Love Song

Rather listen? Subscribe to The Wayfarer Podcast Now on Your Favorite App!

The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes;
in many-colored robes she is led to the king;
    behind her the virgins, her companions, follow.

Psalm 45:14 (NRSVCE)

How on earth could you put together an anthology of the lyrics of 150 songs and not have at least one love song in it?

Today’s chapter, Psalm 45, is the lone love song in the book of Psalms. It was penned for the wedding celebration between the King and the princess of another nation who was being married as part of a political alliance between the two countries. The thought was that one king wouldn’t attack another king if that king was a son-in-law. It also meant that you had a family member who had eyes and ears on what was going on within a rival’s palace. This was a common diplomatic practice throughout history even into the last century. If you look at a chart of European royal families it looks like a spider’s web with all the crossing and intersecting lines. Even Queen Elizabeth married her own cousin.

The song is written from the perspective of the bride looking at her groom and singing of how handsome, strong, and powerful he is. The song’s climax is the bride and her virgin bridesmaids walking into the king’s palace and the very next verse is a promise to bear the king many sons (which was a sign of strength and succession), and also a little racy because it alludes to what’s going to happen once she enters the king’s chambers.

The chapter is also interesting from how it was used in history. After the Hebrews returned from exile in Babylon, psalm 45 was considered a messianic psalm pointing to the messiah who would come and ascend the throne of David. That is interesting because marriage was used by Jesus repeatedly as a metaphor when discussing His second coming and the climactic apocalyptic event known as “the Day of the Lord.” The metaphor is that Jesus will come back like a bridegroom to be united with all believers, collectively and metaphorically referenced as the bride.

In my podcast series The Beginner’s Guide to the Great Story (I know, I know. I have two episodes left, and I will get a Wayfarer Weekend podcast done this weekend I promise!), I mention that God’s language is metaphor precisely because it can be layered with meaning. When I was a young man attending a fundamentalist Bible college I told to interpret passages like today’s psalm only in terms of its spiritual, prophetic meaning. I mean, we wouldn’t want young people in hormonal overdrive thinking about what’s going on in the king’s bed chamber.

Along my journey, I came to realize that this is not a case of “either or” but “both and.” Yes, there is messianic metaphorical imagery in the song, but that’s not why it was written. It was written as a love song to celebrate a beautiful princess entering the palace and the bed chamber of the king. Man, woman, wedding, love, expression of love, life, pro-creation. That’s beautiful. That’s holy.

[cue: Barry White]

Want to Read More?

Click on the image, or click here, to be taken to a simple, visual index of all the posts in this series from the book of Psalms.

There is also a list of recent chapter-a-day series indexed by book.

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

You can also access my audio and video messages, as well.

tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

The Groom

Sam Keithley triptychWe were at our nephew’s wedding last weekend. I had my camera out and was snapping away. When the the processional music swelled I rose with the crowd and turned to see Sam’s bride, Lydia, walking the aisle with her father.

“Sam!” Wendy urgently whispered in my ear. “Take a picture of Sam!”

I turned and snapped a series of pictures of Sam as he watched his bride walking down the aisle toward him.

So glad Wendy prompted me.

Priceless.

 

A Change in My Attitude Toward Weddings

Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” Revelation 19:9 (NIV)

I had never been wild about weddings. So much to do about things that seem so trivial. So much tension between brides and their mothers. So much time, energy and attention on misplaced priorities. My attitude when required to attend or officiate a wedding had always been to grin and bear it.

That is, until New Year’s Eve 2005 when Wendy and I were married in the grand ballroom of the Temple for Performing Arts in Des Moines. We has spent months planning a celebration of our marriage. We had put a lot of thought into minimizing things that didn’t matter (flowers, tuxes, dresses trappings) and focusing on things that we felt mattered most (sincerity, honoring God, expressing ourselves, catering to our guests).

Being theatre people, we scripted a gala New Year’s Eve wedding that would flow for everyone in attendance. We sent out save the date cards telling people to get ready to dress to the nines and enjoy a New Year’s Eve party like no other. At 8:00 p.m. we were married on the ballroom as our guests sat at tables around the perimeter of the floor. As I kissed my new bride to end the ceremony, the strains of Etta James’ “At Last” began and we had our first dance. We were, after all, standing on the dance floor. When the song was over the food was blessed and served, the wine was poured, and the party began. Simple. Ceremony then celebration. No waiting. No standing around. Let the wedding feast begin!

We danced and celebrated with family and friends until midnight then rang in the New Year and our new lives together. I know that I’m biased, but it was an incredible wedding. I would do it all over again with very few changes (we’re theatre people – there are always things you can do to improve the last performance).

I realized this morning as I read the verse above that I have a completely different perspective reading it than I would have had before that night. Wedding as celebration of something special, eternal, life giving, and communal had never been real for me until that night. I look back on that special night and think about the wedding feast of the Lamb as a similar celebration exponentially more incredible.

No more grinning and bearing it. I have a different attitude towards weddings, and when it comes to the wedding feast of the Lam, believe me, I can’t wait.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Father of the Bride…The Rehearsal

The bride to be. The wedding festivities got off to a great start. Taylor and her friends had the bachelorette party on Thursday night, so I wasn't sure when I got up early yesterday if they were even home yet (they were). The crew was, however, fairly slow getting up and Wendy had a kitchen full of goodies for them to feast on for breakfast. She was surprised and pleased to receive a beautiful arrangement of flowers from her "Dutch" family! The morning was pretty laid back and it was fun to talk to Taylor's friends from YWAM and hear about their trips around the world and where their journeys have taken them since last Spring.

Wendy and I spent much of the day in preparations. One of my tasks was to put finishing touches on the requisite autobiographical slide show of the kids' baby and childhood pictures (a task given me by Taylor). Taylor and I have been working on that together all week, and I got to unveil the finished product to Taylor and her friends. Speaking of veils, Wendy ironed Grandma Jeanne's veil, which Taylor will wear today. I was surprised how quickly the day flew by and we suddenly found ourselves needing to be at the church for the rehearsal. The last few minutes before we left for the church were full-out stress and panic mode remembering everything we needed for the rehearsal and dinner. Wendy made cheesecakes for the rehearsal dinner so we had to grab those. Taylor called just before we left to ask me to bring her birth control pill (Oh my goodness, Taylor, you CAN'T forget to take your birth control pill!). We arrived at the church one minute before 4 o'clock and got out of the car.

"Holy mother of God, I forgot to pick up the programs from the printer!!" Wendy exclaimed as we walked to the church. So, back to the car we went to head to the printer. The programs were ready, but we realized that in our rush to get out the door neither of us remembered our money or wallets. Fortunately, the printer knows us well and, as he said, "knows where to find us." Crisis narrowly averted, we headed back to the church.

Despite the rush to get to the church I drove slowly, watching the speed limit, because I'd forgotten my license along with my wallet). That's about the time my hearing-aid battery went out. Oh well, hopefully I don't need to hear any detailed instructions.

We arrived at the church and walked in to greet family and friends. We sat down, and that's when I remembered that we were supposed to show the slide show at the rehearsal dinner. I'd left my laptop. projector, screen and speakers at home. Guess we'll be stopping back there on the way to the dinner. 

The rehearsal went off without a hitch and we had a good time meeting Clayton's family and greeting our own families. I had a chance to pull my son-in-law aside and give him a little fatherly reminder that, if his wife doesn't faithfully take her birth control pill at the same time every day SHE WILL GET PREGNANT. His first duty as a husband will be to help her remember this.

Rehearsal over. Back home to pick up laptop, projector, screen, speaker, requisite chords, and serving knives for the cheesecaked (Wendy remembered she'd forgotten those, too). Back in the car. Dangit! Forgot the hearing-aid battery again. Back to the house for that. Back to the car. Off to the rehearsal dinner.

Clayton's parents had done a fantastic job organizing the rehearsal dinner. Before the dinner, Clayton's mom, Brenda, read a poem she wrote called "A Mother's Blessing". It was really sweet and she held it together until the last couple of stanzas. Clayton and Taylor got up and Clayton spent some time thanking everyone (no, seriously, he thanked EVERY-ONE) before we eventually got to eat [love ya, Clay!]. The parents all sat together at one table and chatted during the dinner, and we played the slide show which brought out the appropriate laughter and, I'm sure, a few tears.

After the rehearsal dinner, it was time for us to head to the reception hall to decorate. Taylor has planned these really creative table decorations of bird cages. At the bottom of the cages is a bed of moss on top of which there are candles. Now when I say "moss" I mean that Taylor bought a box of "Super Moss" (not sure how it compares to mild-mannered Clark Kent type moss, but I'll take the box's word for it).  Where she got it, I don't have a clue, but as we began to assemble the decorations it sort of became clear that moss is green fungus growing on DIRT. You don't get the Super Moss without the requisite Super Dirt. So, dirt was getting everywhere. On the floor and on the tables. (Soooooooo, guess who got to go back home to get some wax paper to line the bottom of the bird cages?)

The wax paper worked really well and a crude assembly line was created. We we able to get the room decorated as much as possible and headed home to get a good night's sleep (not before making a detailed to-do list for today so that we wouldn't forget anything!).

The house is stirring. Time to get ready. Today is my daughter's wedding day.