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Posted: October 27, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Pulpit Notes

The Church as the
Bride of Christ
Throughout Scripture, the people of God are referred to in many different ways. They are called the covenant community, the flock of God, the temple of God, a chosen people, a royal priesthood, the family of God, and the body of Christ.
Biblical writers also used another metaphor to describe the spiritual relationship between God and Israel in the Old Testament and between Christ and the Church in the New Testament, and that is the bride of Christ.
Isaiah said: "Your maker is your husband - the Lord Almighty is his name," (Isaiah 54:5). John the Baptist spoke of Jesus as the bridegroom and of himself as the friend of the bridegroom. Jesus spoke of himself as the bridegroom in the parable of the ten virgins.
The metaphor of the church as the bride of Christ is more fully developed by St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:2 when he says to the Corinthian Christians: "I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to Him." Paul also uses this same metaphor in Ephesians 5:22-32 in comparing the marriage bond between a husband wife to that of Christ and the church.
As the bridegroom, Jesus has already chosen his bride and has laid out the conditions of those who will be part of his bride when he returns. He has paid a great price for his bride, by giving his own life for her.
Right now, the church is betrothed to Christ, similar to the time of engagement for a couple anticipating their coming wedding. During this time, the bridegroom is separated from the bride while he prepares a wedding chamber, or a place to live. Jesus said: "I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also," (John 14:2-3).
While the bridegroom is preparing a place for the bride, the bride is preparing herself for the groom to come back and get her for the wedding. The Apostle John spoke of the people of God being like a bride adorned for her husband.
When the bridegroom comes back, he will do so with a shout and with the sound of the trumpet.
The wedding will take place. The bride will be dressed in white, symbolic of purity and chastity.
Following the wedding, there will be a great marriage feast or supper. This will be a great time of celebration and joy.
Everyone is invited. You can be part of the bride of Christ. The invitation is open to everyone. We must give ourselves totally in love to him, and keep ourselves ready at all times for the coming of the bridegroom. When Christ and the church are wedded, it will be the biggest wedding of all times. Don't miss the celebration.

the Rev. Wayne Rutherford
LifePointe Church of the Nazarene

God is doing some building
This coming Sunday, God willing, Abiding Grace Lutheran Church will be celebrating our Groundbreaking and all the excitement of this massive project we are about to undertake. But, actually, there's something far more important that we'll be celebrating that day. In our text today, we see what that is. You see, Paul reminds us that far more important than anything we accomplish is what God does. God is doing some building.
First he's building our relationship with him. The first verse of our text says, "He (Jesus) came and preached peace to you." Just prior to this Paul had been talking about the fact that our relationship with God had some problems. Those problems can be summed up in one word - sin. Think about it. At Groundbreaking we'll be talking about building something and calling it God's house. That's pretty bold, when you consider who God is - the being with the power to make everything you see when you walk outside, the being with the wisdom to be able to keep a running total of the number of hairs on your head, the one who split a sea and built the mountains and knit your DNA. We're trying to build a house for this God who is defined by his total and complete holiness, his separation from sin. And who are we?
What are our qualifications? None. Even the things we would do that might look good - they are stained with sin. What have we done to merit this opportunity? Nothing, other than slap God in the face when we refuse to trust in him and insult his ability when we worry that he doesn't have our lives under total control. You see, sin and holiness can't be together - so God should not be here, not until he destroys us completely.
But he is here. He said that wherever two or three come together in his name, there he is with us. Instead of destroying us, he gave his son and destroyed him in our place. Verse 16 tells us that God bridged the gap between us and him with the cross. Through the payment Jesus paid, giving his life, our lives were bought back. Our lives were made new. We became beautiful building material for God, fit for his perfect temple. That's why, verse 17 says, Jesus came to proclaim peace to us. God loves us. You see, God has been doing some building, building our relationship with him.
And once he has done that, he keeps building, building us - us forgiven sinners, us perfected children of God - into a church, into a family. Look at our text again. "He came to preach peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near." All kinds, no favorites, no regard for history, culture, income, race, gender or anything else. Instead of letting the things that make us different separate us, God is doing some building, building us together, which is why he says in verse 19: "Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household." So come on Sunday and be this church God is building. I hope you can join us for this exciting day and praise God that he is doing some building. Amen.

the Rev. Jonathan E. Scharf
Abiding Grace Lutheran Church

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