Renewing Our Vows
JULY 1, 2021
When my wife and I got married we didn’t have much money.
I was working part-time as an administrator for a nonprofit. My salary was $300 a week, but I only got paid if enough donations came in to cover my salary that week.
Gail, a single mom with three sons at home, a mortgage, and other financial obligations, was a children’s ministry director at a church. Her salary was adequate, but barely. By being frugal, she got by. But there was rarely anything extra left over at the end of the month.
When we decided to get married, we weren’t sure how we were going to pay for a wedding. But our church, family, and friends loved on us and took care of everything associated with the ceremony and reception. Everything, that is, except for rings.
We really wanted to include the traditional rings vow in the ceremony. But, how to buy rings with almost no money in the bank? I priced rings at a couple of jewelry stores and knew that option was out. We weren’t sure what we were going to do. Cracker Jack, maybe? Cigar bands?
A week before the wedding, we were in Walmart when Gail said, “Look, they have a jewelry counter. Let’s see what they have.” Walmart wedding rings? Was she serious?
Well, we found titanium wedding bands for $18.99 each. We did buy those rings, but I promised her that one day we’d replace them with something better.
Last year, we passed our tenth anniversary, and still had not replaced the rings. It seemed like ten years was time enough for me to keep my promise about getting better rings. Our financial situation has improved from what it was back then, but we still don’t have much left over at the end of the month. So, I hemmed and hawed about buying new rings and didn’t take any action.
Then Gail me told she had a plan. She had inherited some jewelry from her mother, and she had a few other pieces she’s collected over the years. She wanted to sell the jewelry she’d collected and use the money to have her mother’s ring sized to fit her and the rest to buy a ring for me. So, that’s what she did.
We thought about having a vow renewal ceremony and inviting friends, but with covid restrictions we decided to do something with just the two of us. On a Sunday afternoon we sat next to each other in our living room and watched the video of our wedding. Then, looking into the eyes of the other, we pledged our continuing love, and put the new rings on each other’s fingers.
I thought it was really quite sweet and my eyes did get a little moist.
I thought about our little vow renewal ceremony today as I listened to Tim Keller’s sermon, “The True Bridegroom,” which is about God as our Husband.
Keller said of all the images the Bible uses for God, the most important for us to understand the depth of his love for us is that of Husband. There is much we can learn about God as King, and God as Shepherd, and God as Father. But it is with the image of God as our Husband, as our Bridegroom, that we see something of God’s passion for his people.
Consider this passage from Isaiah 54:
4 “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth,
and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
5 For your Maker is your husband,
the Lord of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called.
6 For the Lord has called you
like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
says your God.
7 For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
8 In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord, your Redeemer.
Isaiah, according to Keller, wants us to think about that moment in the wedding ceremony when the bride turns the corner and starts walking down the aisle. What does the groom feel when he sees his beloved? He is filled with passionate love for her. He wants to promise her the world. He is willing to lay down his life for her.
In the same way that the groom delights in his bride, God delights in us his people. He delights in you. He is filled with passionate love for you. He wants to give you the world. He lays down his life for you.
This was all fulfilled in Jesus, the true bridegroom (Matt. 9:15). Jesus did all those things for you and for me. He loved us. And he promised us the world. In fact, he promised us a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1-4). And he laid down his life so that he could give it to us.
We can only truly understand the depth of the love in God’s heart for us when we understand the image of God as our husband.
And so, he gave us a vow renewal ceremony so that we can be reminded of that love. That is what communion is, a vow renewal ceremony.
When we come to communion we can say, “My Jesus, I believe you love me and have given your all for me. Therefore, with these elements I take you, Jesus, to be my wedded Savior. I do promise, before God and these witnesses to give my all to you.”
It was sweet and moving to renew my vows to Gail, to take her again as my wedded wife, and to promise afresh to love her and to be faithful to her. Now, whenever we have communion at our church I’m going to think about Jesus as my bridegroom who loved me and gave himself for me. I’m going to use that time to take him as my wedded Savior and promise to give him my love, my obedience, my everything.
Let me know what you think.