A More Magnificent Mirror: For My Daughter & Her Groom

Chris —  June 9, 2015

A wedding charge in Stillman ValleyTogether — as one — make your marriage a more magnificent mirror so that together you more fully reflect the beauty of Christ and the loveliness of the gospel.

I didn’t officiate for either the vows or declaration of intent at my daughter’s wedding. I did give the charge / mini-sermon. When the time came, I asked the ushers (my two sons) to position a full-length mirror on the platform. It was one we borrowed for the bride to use while getting ready.

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To begin with, let me tell you about a conversation I had with this mirror last night. It was just the mirror and I alone and we had a nice chat.

It may surprise Alex’s family and guests– who do not know me as well– to hear that I talk to mirrors. I suppose it could possibly even concern some – – but my people are from rural Iowa. It’s a solitary life out there on the prairie and we learn to hold conversations when we’re by ourselves that those from more populated areas might find strange.

Yesterday we had a house full of bride’s maids. The place was positively buzzing with energy. But eventually everyone went to bed and I was left alone with this full-length mirror we borrowed to use while our bride is getting ready.

I had never met this mirror before, person to mirror, so as the host of my home I made polite introductions. I gave my name and said, “Welcome. You’re a fine looking mirror.”

The mirror thanked me and expressed appreciation for our hospitality.

Making conversation I said to the mirror, “It seems like a beautiful thing, to be a mirror.”

He liked the question. He responded expansively, “You know, it really is. You participate in the best occasions in life: Children starting to school. Mothers face painting for football games. Proms. There’s nothing I would rather do than be a mirror.”

I agreed that it sounded nice.

Then the mirror graciously volunteered, and I appreciated him doing so, he offered: “Say, I know that I’m here to serve you as a family. And I’m happy to do it. I wonder if you have a word for me about the big event tomorrow. How can I help you for the wedding? Do you have any special requests?”

It was a question I was hoping for and I said, “Well thanks for asking. Actually, as it turns out, I have four words for you. And, just to help you remember, I alliterated my points. I am a preacher after all. So here are 4 m’s for you to remember the day of my daughters wedding. I counted them off with my fingers:

  1. More
  2. Magnificent
  3. Modest
  4. Mirror

I was concerned that the list might be a bit long for a mirror, so I added, “I know you only asked for one “m” and that’s four. So if you need to remember only one of the four, remember the word more.”

The mirror thought about all of this. He mumbled m’s. He paused and thought for a few minutes.

I thought maybe he didn’t get them. So I started to repeat them . . . but the mirror interrupted, “No. I’ve got it.”

CDB_6549The mirror cautiously explained, “Well, I can work with three of the four. Obviously, I know a mirror’s job. I reflect images. I’m up for magnificent. Every day work is okay. But mirrors, even small town mirrors, live for big days. That’s what we love about being mirrors. Having said that, I’ve always been a modest mirror. I know there are mirrors with bigger jobs. There are mirrors on the Hubbell Space telescope, and mirrors in the Palace of Versailles – – I’m a small town mirror.”

I could tell he was being careful, but the mirror continued and said, “But the one word that gives me some pause – – which as it turns out – is the one you are especially stressing is the word ‘more.’ To me, and I don’t want to read too much into what you are saying, but to me, ‘more’ implies that you think tomorrow I will portray a more magnificent image than I ever have in the past. It sounds like you are expecting a greater degree of reflection and beauty.”

The mirror said all of this in a very diplomatic way. He then waited for me to say that I didn’t think tomorrow would be more magnificent. But I didn’t deny the point. In fact I assured him that I did think tomorrow (which is now today, my little girl’s wedding day) would be the mirror’s best moment ever.

At this point the mirror got a little salty. He said, “Look that seems a bit presumptuous. How can you say that tomorrow will be more magnificent? You don’t know my body of work. I’ve conceded that I am a small town mirror, but I have reflected at some big events by Midwestern standards.”

I didn’t back down. “Well,” I said, “It’s like this. First let me confirm, you were not at my wedding, August 12, 1989.”

The mirror did even have to think about his answer. “No, he said, I wasn’t there. I’ve never worked west of the Mississippi.”

I said, “Well, in that case, you’ve never reflected a more beautiful bride.”

The mirror got it then – — and he smiled – he realized he was dealing with a guy who wasn’t trying to be objective. He conceded my right to be biased, “Okay, you can argue for the unsurpassed beauty of your wife and daughter.”

But then the mirror’s smile turned to concern. He said, “Hey, don’t put too much pressure on me. I can only work with what I’ve been given. I haven’t seen your daughter in her wedding dress yet. So how can I know if she will be pretty?”

I said, “Well, that’s where the ‘modest’ word enters the picture. You don’t have to be magnificent on your own. I assure you that my daughter will supply enough beauty for whatever room she is in. Just show up buddy. My daughter as a bride will light the place up. I know my little girl will be beautiful on her wedding day.”

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Now – – much to everyone’s relief who is worried about my late night conversation with a mirror – – I’ll turn to my audience here. I’m sure Alex agrees that this mirror, reflecting his bride, never had a more magnificent day. Right Alex? The mirror is looking good.

(Alex agreed!)

Allison and Alex, for the both of you, not coincidentally, I have the same four words for you two that I had for our friend here.

  1. Mirror
  2. Magnificent
  3. More
  4. Modest

A Magnificent Mirror

To begin with, any Christian should be a mirror that reflects glory back to Christ – – As our Scottish ancestors wrote, our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The metaphor of a mirror helps us understand what it means to glorify God. God’s glory is his manifest beauty – – glory is to God as beams of light are to the sun – – so glorifying God means that we are the surfaces off which God’s glory reflects. We are mirrors.[1]

The extent to which a mirror brilliantly reflects an image demonstrates its quality. A marvelous mirror shows a marvelous image without distortion. And the degree to which we show an on looking world the beauty of Christ is the degree to which we glorify Him.[2]

Usher #1’s (your brother Christopher’s) reading from the Psalter emphasized that when we pray today for God’s blessing on your home, we have this mirroring / reflective objective in mind:

[1] May God be gracious to us and bless us

and make his face to shine upon us, Selah

[2] that your way may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations.

[3] Let the peoples praise you, O God;

let all the peoples praise you!

[4] Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,

for you judge the peoples with equity

and guide the nations upon earth. Selah

[5] Let the peoples praise you, O God;

let all the peoples praise you!

[6] The earth has yielded its increase;

God, our God, shall bless us.

[7] God shall bless us;

let all the ends of the earth fear him! (Psalm 67 ESV)

 Think of verses 1-2 with my comments inserted:

[1] May God be gracious to us and bless us

and make his face to shine upon us, Selah

[2] that (which is to say, “for the purpose” or “to the end”) your way may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations.

 The Psalm is a prayer that asks that God’s glory would shine into our lives. But the goal of the prayer is the result that God’s ways would be known on earth. And today the church asks for God’s blessing so that we might make a difference around the globe. So that we might, as mirrors, reflect his glory.

To say this personally to you Allison and Alex, today when we pray for God’s blessing on your home, we are not simply thinking of your home in St. Louis but we are praying that as you are built into the community of a local church – – that there would be global implications. We are praying that, as the glory of God shines into your lives, that as mirrors you will reflect God’s glory in ways that benefit many others.

Make your marriage a magnificent mirror that reflects the beauty of Christ and the loveliness of the gospel.

CDB_6368More

What I have said thus far – – that we are to glorify God by reflecting his manifest goodness — is nothing that cannot be said of all of creation. The mirror concept is not limited in its scope. All of creation is in some sense a mirror that reflects the glory of Christ. Every blade of grass reflects the beauty of the Creator.

So why would we say that your marriage should be a more magnificent mirror. The answer to that question flows out of usher #2’s (your brother Benjamin’s) Scripture reading. The Apostle Paul pointed out that marriage and the gospel explain one another.

[22] Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. [23] For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. [24] Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

[25] Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, [26] that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, [27] so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. [28] In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. [29] For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, [30] because we are members of his body. [31] “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” [32] This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. [33] However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV)

So up to this point – – either of you has been mirrors that reflected the glory of Christ to the world. But now – as of today – together – you are positioned to glorify Christ even more because marriage and the gospel explain one another. Notice four ways marriage and the gospel explain one another.

First, marriage is a mirror that magnificently glorifies Christ when wives submit to their husband. Paul wrote:

 [22] Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. [23] For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

 Allison, as a wife, you are called to uphold and support Alex. You are to be a champion for him. You know that in our home your mother has beautifully exemplified this. She supports us and upholds me, if anything to a fault. Believe in your husband. Respect him. Love him.

Second, marriage is a mirror that more magnificently glorifies Christ when husbands love their wives as Christ loved the church.

[25] Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

 Jesus loved us by going to the cross to take the penalty of sin upon him. He gave himself completely for his bride the church. Likewise, Alex the expectation is that you would protect your wife completely. The guy goes down for the girl. If you hear a noise in the apartment, don’t say, “Hey honey, go check that out.” The guy goes down.[3]

Which is to say, Alex, God would expect, that you would step in front of a truck to save Allison’s life, tragic as that would be. But really getting hit by a truck is the easy part. Dying (at least by way of getting ran over by a truck) happens all at once. The more difficult thing is when you are tired at the end of a long day and the dog (by the way, I would encourage you to hold off on getting a dog for a little while) –when the dog wants to go out and you need to be a servant leader and you have to get up and let the dog out. That’s when servant leadership really kicks in. And in those moments you show Christ-like love, however, ordinary, and reflect the glory of Christ.

Third, marriage is a mirror that more magnificently glorifies Christ because when a husband and wife become one flesh they picture the solidarity of God’s people with their Savior. How is it that what a Savior accomplished millennia ago outside Jerusalem has significance for today? The answer is that we are united with Christ. We are “bound together” with Jesus. Likewise, you are to be bound together. The intimacy with which you hold one another pictures the intimacy of Christ and his bride the church.[4]

Fourth, marriage — with its exclusive commitment — mirrors the love of Christ for his church. Your foundational relationship is Christ and his church. But after this – – your central relationship is to one another. For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother . . . You belong to one another. Likewise, Christ is not a universal Savior. The danger we run in a wedding like this – – is that we play some church music and read some biblical thoughts – – and imply that the benefits of Christ are universally bestowed. But this is not what the Bible says. Rather, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12).”

Modest

Allison, you might be inclined to respond, “Oh you are my father. You have an over-inflated opinion.” And Alex may feel like – – “Oh what am I getting myself into.”

Admittedly, I am biased about the two of you, but remember the word “modest.” My confidence regarding this challenge to be more magnificent mirrors is not because of you. After all, you are modest mirrors. My confidence is because the source of the glory – Christ, our King – – is the brightest possible light. We have a beautiful Savior. We don’t have to worry about him being beautiful. Just show up as mirrors and our King, and his bride, will shine in ways that don’t just fill a church building on a wedding day – – his glory will shine forth and fill the entire universe.

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[1] S. Aalen, “Glory,” in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), 44–48; Chris Brauns, “How Would You Define ‘Glory’?,” A Brick in the Valley: The Web Site of Pastor and Author Chris Brauns, accessed November 6, 2014, http://chrisbrauns.com/2011/04/how-would-you-define-glory/; Chris Brauns, “Notes on Glory for Romans Study,” A Brick in the Valley: The Web Site of Pastor and Author Chris Brauns, accessed November 6, 2014, http://chrisbrauns.com/2009/09/notes-on-glory-for-romans-study/.

[2] In addition to noticing what a marvelous mirror is, we could also notice two things a mirror is not. (1) A mirror is not a source. Mirrors don’t supply light on their own. So a marvelous mirror cannot produce a beautiful image. (2) Mirrors are not sinks. They are not to be black holes that suck up the light and internalize them.

[3] Matt Chandler, “A Beautiful Design: Man’s Purpose” (The Village Church, Dallas, September 21, 2014), 3, http://www.thevillagechurch.net/resources/sermons/detail/mans-purpose/. Chandler shares that Dr. Randy Stinson, “Has taught all his little boys concerning his daughters and women in general, ‘The boy goes down. The girl goes free.’

[4] Chris Brauns, Bound Together: How We Are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Choices (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013).

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2 responses to A More Magnificent Mirror: For My Daughter & Her Groom

  1. Deana Simpson June 9, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Every word sinks in and would do everyone a favor if each of us took to heart in our own lives. Thank you for sharing that “mmmm” message with all of us.

  2. pastor this was so meaningful. Thanks for sharing,gives us a lot to think about