In an earlier post, I described how Priscilla and I went to Kentucky in September 2012 so that I could perform the wedding of a couple we knew from Graduate InterVarsity at Michigan State. (They were the ones who sent a picture of us dancing at their reception that arrived on the day when Priscilla had been dreaming about dancing with the Trinity.) For their wedding, this couple chose to have the congregation sing a song together right after the traditional opening sentences. The song was “Ten Thousand Reasons” by Matt Redman. This was the first time Priscilla and I had heard it.

All around the top of the church sanctuary were beautiful stained glass windows. They depicted Old Testament figures such as Noah, Moses, David, and Daniel, and then scenes from the life of Christ—his birth, baptism, ministry, teaching, sufferings and death, resurrection, and ascension.

Trinity Hill UMC Ascension
The ascension window at the church where our friends were married.

The day had been overcast, but as we all started singing, the sun broke through the clouds. It was positioned right behind the stained glass window that depicted the ascension of Christ, and it bathed that scene in golden light.  The light fell on the faces of the bride and groom as we continued to sing together.

Light at wedding 2

As I looked out at Priscilla, her face seemed to be alight, too, even though the congregation was still in shadow. She was a long way from getting a diagnosis—in fact, she’d just been told that she didn’t have ALS—but somehow she knew she had a fatal disease. And so she was finding joy and encouragement in these words from the song:

And on that day when my strength is failing,
The end draws near and my time has come,
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending,
Ten thousand years and then forevermore.

I had the same sense that Priscilla did about what lay ahead, and so the song, and the light, spoke to me, too. They assured me that she herself would be raised from the dead and taken up to heaven, just as Jesus had been. It was very special that this was happening in the midst of the wedding of two good friends, because this declared how we were all invited to what the Bible calls the “wedding feast of the Lamb,” eternal joy in the presence of God.

I can still see that light in my mind’s eye.

Author: endlessmercies

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is a writer and biblical scholar who is also an ordained minister and served local churches as a pastor for nearly twenty years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the Scriptures that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He has an A.B. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School. Dr. Smith answers questions about the Bible, particularly those that arise from the use of his study guides, at goodquestionblog.com.

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