Monday, October 12, 2009

The Anatomy of A Covenant Wedding

The latest issue of Christianity Today featured an article entitled "Lord of the Wedding Dance" which spoke to my heart and mirrored our view of what a wedding should be. The article quoted John Witte, a legal historian who has written much on marriage and family. He said:

The Reformers saw marriage as "a covenantal association of the entire community," wherein the pastor, families, witnesses, and the couple commit to a contract before God. Like the covenant between Yahweh and the Israelites, the marriage covenant establishes a bond that withstands all the difficulties of human life ("for better, for worse," and so on). God is present in the covenant bonds and becomes "party, witness, and judge" to the union; leaving out any of the parties is to effectively "omit God from the marriage covenant".

Having just experienced our youngest daughter's wedding on August 29th held at our restaurant, The RimRock Inn, the memories are still fresh and delightful in my mind. I am definitely a partial observer, but judging the many comments we've received about Henry and Anna's day, something about this particular wedding was extra special.

I've scratched my head trying to figure out just what one thing made the day so unique. It's hard to say, probably because it was the whole of it and not the part. Still, each piece deserves mention. It could have been the crazy weather with thunder rolling and lightening flashing through Joseph Canyon right when the bagpiper opened the ceremony...the canyon's ethereal backdrop...the joy everyone found in watching and witnessing Henry and Anna's courtship and apparent love for each other...The fathers giving their children a "charge"...the purity seeing their first real kiss which happened on the wedding day (it was quite the kiss)...all our children performing beautiful sacred music during the wedding...the gorgeous decorations and flowers...the amazing food...the upbeat recessional while Jordan sang "For Once in My Life"-- complete with sunglasses...the incredible reception band,music and the dance floor groovin into the night...and the list goes on!

While we'd love to take all the credit for the day, I would like to think the real success lies in the fact that we desired it to be a covenant wedding, the thesis of Christianity Today's article.

"As it turns out, the key to a properly ordered wedding ceremony has less to do with us than we think. It begins with the Holy spirit, giving all the parties in the marriage covenant a desire to honor God, admonish and encourage one another, and invite to the day those who do not know the gospel, allowing the celebration to become a witness to Christ and his Bride and their own wedding day in the new kingdom." So, the article went.

In this spirit, a unique feature of the weddings performed by our Pastor, Terry Tollefson, is that after each vow uttered by the couple, Pastor Terry prompts the entire congregation to refrain a hearty "Amen!" This makes the group gathered not only witnesses, but part of the covenant community which--in a sense--holds the couple accountable.

These kinds of weddings are beautiful for all the reasons noted, but especially so because they demonstrate the anatomy of a covenant wedding. I, for one, am looking forward to many more taking place in our church in the years to come.


Anna. You were first placed in my arms in Seoul, Korea under the name Bae Yun Mee. They told me and your Nana, who was with me, that name meant “Forever Beautiful”. My charge to you is related to that name. Some will say you are the woman you are now in part because of me and your mom. And to the extent that is true I give all the glory to God. But I say I am what I am in part, because of you. What a blessing you have been to me from the first day you became a Hostetter.

I mean, look, I get to stand here and look at my daughter dressed in pure white, knowing that for you the white dress is not just a tradition or a symbol of purity…in your case it reflects what is true. You stand here a picture of faithfulness, obedience and purity. But this day did not come without pain. I think you understand that the pain that accompanies living unto God is temporary, while the pleasures and joy of doing so are everlasting. And the opposite is true; the pleasures of living not unto God are temporary (and there is pleasure) but the pain is everlasting. So, you stand here now ready to have your faithfulness translated this day into great pleasure and great joy. Today you are dressed in white and tomorrow you will be whiter than snow.

The Preacher asks in Proverbs 31:10 “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Henry, I think you found one. Now Anna you will be what you are not because of me or your Mom, but in large part because of Henry. And I know he is ready to follow his father’s good counsel. And Henry will be what he will be in large part because of you.

Here is my counsel. (And in saying this I already know you will be faithful to your pledges and vows—I know that.) But do it not out of obedience or duty, as good as those character traits are in a noble woman, but out of gratitude and thankfulness to please a Savior who gave His life for you and to please a husband who loves you and is ready to give his life for you. The Preacher also says: “charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

That is what will enable your husband to be respected in the city gates, that is what will cause your children to arise and call you blessed, and that is what will cause you to be what the Lord ordained when before we knew you, you were called Bae Yun Mee.


1 comment:

  1. I love the Father's charge to his daughter! So beautiful! Thanks for sharing that.


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