Last Saturday we attended a special wedding. All weddings are special of course but this was special far beyond the thrill of the two who were becoming one as they prefigured The Story of the Ages.
As part of the bridegroom’s speech this poem by C.S. Lewis, “What the Bird Said Early in the Year” was read:
“I heard in Addison’s Walk a bird sing clear:
This year the summer will come true. This year. This year.
Winds will not strip the blossom from the apple trees
This year, nor want of rain destroy the peas.
This year time’s nature will no more defeat you,
Nor all the promised moments in their passing cheat you.
This time they will not lead you round and back
To Autumn, one year older, by the well-worn track.
This year, this year, as all these flowers foretell,
We shall escape the circle and undo the spell.
Often deceived, yet open once again your heart,
Quick, quick, quick, quick!—the gates are drawn apart.”
This echoes another song* whose last verse goes,
“Now my eyes can see, now my ears can hear,
Now I fully understand I know why I am here.
God’s heart in Christ opened heaven’s door
And after all these years I’ve found what I’ve been searching for
My Father’s smile, Jesus embrace, The Spirit’s kiss, we’re face to face.
God and man at last are one; salvation’s work has now been done.
And the Father reaches out his hand to wipe away my tear
For the winter’s passed, the spring has come, and the King of summer’s here.”
The service was held in the same space where 44 years ago Father gathered a group of young people to form into the Come Together in Jesus Name choir. Over the next few years this motley crew took the message to thousands throughout Ireland that our unity is not based on our agreement on doctrinal details but upon a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Behind the story the world was being told about Catholics and Protestants killing one another in “The Northern Ireland Troubles” there was another story being writ as the Spirit of God was being poured out indiscriminately, and miraculously transforming and reconciling people from the two ‘sides.’
But alas! – A Catholic and Protestant community that formed subsequently went the way of all flesh – and came apart!
Now here in the “Church of the Resurrection” the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story was being re-enacted…..only this time with the happy ending – the two lovers representing the two denominational houses being united in life not in death!
Never were hymns about our Redeemer sung with such heartfelt gratitude!
A bus transported people from the both “families” from the ceremony at the Church (‘priests’) to the celebration at the (Belfast) Castle (‘kings’). The bus had ‘randomly’ been assigned the number 888. The numeric value of the name JESUS (in Greek) is 888
What God has joined together…..let no man put asunder!
I believe “This year”, “God’s heart in Christ has opened heaven’s door” – “the gates are drawn apart”
“Quick, quick, quick, quick”.…..let us pass through – together!
P.S. By way of confirmation…..I had just finished this blog when this email came in from my friend Collins who pastors a church in Massachusetts. Although it’s his response to last week’s blog it is remarkably relevant for this week’s!
“Today I preached on entering at the low door for 2018, the side door of the servant who humbles himself, and leaves the Great Gate for only the King to enter in by….but after entering by the low door, finds himself crowned with the King Himself. As Jesus did, entering the manger, and came to serve, so we , too, enter low, and are assured of exaltation as the delight of the Father for us. As Jesus is, so are we in the world. The gate truly is the low door, as we love and serve, as children enter into Father’s house.”
P. P.S. St. Mungo has waited 1500 years. He didn’t mind another week’s delay before my telling his story : – )
*”King of Summer” from the album, “O Ireland”