If you read the first post of reflections from my trip this weekend, here are the rest of the lessons I gleaned:
5.Man was not meant to fly! OK this is has no theological or practical significance, but I hate to fly on planes and felt it necessary to emphasize that there is a reason we do not have wings. The Seraphim of Isaiah 6 I imagine are a glorious sight to behold before the throne of God, but me in a flying Tylenol at three thousand feet is not!
6.Family is a gift from God. This weekend afforded me the opportunity to spend extended time with my wife’s side of the family. This was a unique opportunity because usually they only interact with me around Emily, thus discomfort was a real possibility for us all. Yet the entire trip provided sweet fellowship and fruitful conversations. They have accepted me as part of the family from day one and demonstrated genuine hospitality with such love. For that I praise God.
7.Jesus is a Notre Dame fan, and Moses must be an alumni. Saturday morning allowed an opportunity for a guided tour of the campus of the University of Notre Dame. I have been to many college campuses, but Notre Dame is truly in a league of their own. But one of the striking things about the campus is that on one of main buildings facing the football stadium is a mural of Jesus with His arms extended as in a receiving gesture. But in front of a football stadium I swear he looks like he is holding up his arms as motioning “touchdown!” So the fans have affectionately labeled that painting “touchdown Jesus,” and quite honestly that may be why they are such a dominant football program! Also on campus is a stone statue of Moses with his finger pointing toward heaven; however most fans believe he is saying “We’re number one!”
8.There is much to learn from our “high church” brothers and sisters in Christ. The wedding I attended was in an Episcopal church, and it was my first exposure to that protestant tradition. A few aspects took me aback (such as the icons of Jesus and Priests wearing bathrobes), but for the most part I learned a great deal. The architecture is breathtaking in displaying the majesty of God and glory of His presence. Stepping into the building reminded me I am in the presence of the King of Kings. I was also struck by the reverence given to the Word of God. I asked one of the clergy if there were any traditions I needed to be aware of to observe, and he mentioned bowing at the front of the alter before a cross. Doing that reminded me as I walked to recite Scripture that I am coming on the basis of what Jesus did for me on that Cross. And after I read the text, I was to say “The Word of the Lord,” and the congregation responded, “Thanks be to God.” When this is done not out of ritual but out of genuine love and reverence, it is a tradition my Baptist roots would benefit from immensely.
9.Marriage should always remind us of the mysterious, profound and glorious union we have been called into with Christ. I am so grateful for my cousin Kevin and his new bride Sara because they preached the Gospel to my heart by their union. Ephesians 5 played in my head as they committed their lives to one another. Paul told us that marriage is an illustration of Christ and the church, and not the other way around. I pray I never see two people joined together in marriage without seeing behind the curtain the greater reality that union is pointing to, namely that I have been united to my bridegroom by grace through faith in His blood atonement.
10.Receiving Communion must not be entered into lightly with little thought. I faced a difficult dilemma in that communion was offered to all at the wedding as an act of worship. I love coming to the Lord’s Table, as it celebrates His work on my behalf. Yet I wrestled with whether not I should participate. On one hand it was a time of worship and afforded the opportunity to glorify Christ and enjoy fellowship with a community of believers outside my denomination. But on the other hand, I have serious doctrinal differences with the church in which I was a guest. I believe that the church is “disorderly,” by which I mean that the ordering of the body in both government and practice does not match what the New Testament teaches about the local church. Issues such as what do the bread and wine represent, baptizing infants, the priestly role of clergy, and others are serious issues that hinder me from ever becoming a member of that community. So I decided because of my conscious to refrain and respectfully and prayerfully observe the act of worship. I think this topic may open a good discussion on the blog: what would you have done in my shoes, and is it appropriate to receive communion when serious doctrinal differences are present among a believer and the local church. Let’s hear your thoughts!