What They Saw. What They Heard.
I spent most of the latter part of last week in April watching television reports-from Wednesday evening's life-saving coverage of the killer storms sweeping across seven states in the southern United States to Friday morning's grand display of the Royal Wedding, which I watched once live and once on replay and in bits off and on all day between reports of storm damage. What the world saw keeps tracking through my mind, and what the world heard is calling my heart to pray.
What the world saw was utter devastation in the South, countless people standing in the middle of the sticks that were once their homes. What the world heard was:
"I heard a sound like a train, and I prayed."
"We ran for the hall, and we prayed."
"We heard the debris hitting the house. My wife can't walk, so I held onto her tight, and I prayed."
"I thought, 'This is it,' and I prayed"
"I thank God that we are alive. God brought us through."
"I thought, 'I am going to die,' and I prayed."
A man sitting on a pile of rubble swept his hand behind him and said, "These are material things. That my family is alive is what is important."
"I prayed, 'God, if it is my time...it wasn't my time.'"
"My husband threw us down and fell on top of us, and I prayed."
"I am only grateful our lives were spared. I thank God...."
"...and I prayed.""
Fast forward to the wedding April 29 of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. What the world saw was the beauty and precision of British pageantry, the exquisite uniforms and attire of the wedding party, the military escorts and the guests; the magnificence of Westminster Abbey built with all aspects sweeping upward to honor God, the elegance of the ornate vestments of the clergy.
What they heard were hymns* sung by all the guests that told of God's majesty, love and goodness, deliverance and redemption. An anthem written for the occasion and sung by the choir began with "This is the day that the Lord hath made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it" and thanked God for being our shield and buckler.
*("Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer," "Love Divine All Love Excelling," and "Jerusalem.")
They heard the brother of the bride recite a lengthy passage from Romans 12:1-3, 9-18. "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
They saw the couple kneel and heard the Archbishop pray over them:
O Eternal God, Creator and Preserver of all mankind, giver of all spiritual grace, the author of everlasting life: send thy blessing upon these thy servants, this man and this woman, whom we bless in thy name; that, living faithfully together, they may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made, whereof this ring given and received is a token and pledge; and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according to thy laws through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
And again he blessed the couple, asking, ''God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost bless, preserve, and keep you.''
They saw the Bishop of London speak with loving wisdom his sermon to the couple.
They heard, " 'Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.' So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be...
They heard the bishop's eloquent and full description of God's intentions for marriage.
They saw the prince who was raised to one day be king and his beautiful bride who will reign as his queen. They heard their prayer read. "Prince William and Catherine Middleton have written their own prayer: God our Father, we thank you for our families, for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage. In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy. Strengthened by our union, help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen."
The world saw a young couple choosing to be married, choosing to be married in a church, to sit under the instruction of the holy ordinance of matrimony. I do not know their spiritual condition, but there was not a misstep in the service that I heard. Every word was faithful to the truths of God, whether it spoke of the Persons of the Trinity or was a charge to or a blessing spoken over the bride and groom. God was worshiped in song, in word, in deed.
Whether shocked by the devastation caused in minutes or awed by the traditions of generations, we were all reminded that God is the Creator, our God most High, and His Son is our Redeemer for whom we are grateful and to whom we pray for daily assistance, as well as in the midst of the storm. In our "post-Christian" world this may have been more mention of and demonstration of faith in God than the world has heard in years.
Jesus said in John 12:32, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Myself." Hebrews says the Word of God is living and active.
I believe God is calling to us in these days. Please pray with me that He will use both the suffering from the storm and the beauty of the wedding to draw many to Himself, opening their eyes and their ears to His Love and Truth through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
Written by Carey Louthan
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