Archive for December 27th, 2020

1SunChristmas Isaiah 61:10-62:3 “Dressed for the Wedding”

The average Georgia wedding cost $32,400 in 2020, which is down from #33,900 in 2019.

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, a

The average Georgia wedding cost $32,400 in 2020, which is down from #36,600 in 2019.

Wedding Statistics

  • Destination weddings average $32,000, while
    • hometown weddings average $27,000.
    • First marriages weddings average $30,000, while
    • second weddings average $14,000.
    • Millennials typically spend $30,000, while
    • members of Gen Xers spend $20,000
  • New Jersey has the highest average cost at $53,400, with Utah taking the lowest spot at $19,700.
  • The average wedding dress costs around $1,500.
  • Wedding photography costs an average of $2,400, while videography averages $1,799.
  • The average cost of a wedding cake is $540, but can vary widely.
  • Venues normally charges approximately $30,000 for a standard wedding with 300 guests indicated micro weddings cost an estimated $2,750 for up to 30 guests or $4,500 for up to 50 guests.
  • Couples budget, on average, spend 25% more than they budget according to Wedding Wire’s 2020 Newlywed Report.
  • All these expenses and what is appropriate for the one person Required to officiate and make it legal?

Today our passage from Isaiah invites us to think about garments.

My uncle Mike use to tease us saying when we very little, “Did you know you have garments all over your body. Does you mother know you are covered in garments?” ..Thinking he was talking about germs or cooties, we didn’t know what to think.

Hear Isaiah 61 and following

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. For Zion’s sake, I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not rest until her vindication shines out like the dawn and her salvation like a burning torch. The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. [NRSA: Isaiah 61:10-62:3]

The Prophet Isaiah calls God’s People to Rejoice!

— I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God;

Can you picture your whole being, present in praising God? Too often we are self-conscious about what others are seeing our hearing of doing and saying. Our minds are thinking about one thought while we are going through the motions of ritual or exercise. We rehearse the words and concepts but can separate what is good and righteous when we need the advantage to confront the opposition.

Rather than living ways that categorize our time and energy, we could be fully present in any moment, be empty of all other distractions. We do experience moments, where our hearts, minds, and bodies are focused, this is one of the reasons we gather for worship. To set aside the time, this location or stream, to share the same song, words, prayers, and spiritual presence.

Isaiah is describing something more ordinary than a day of worship. Can you picture yourself in the presence of all those who are gathering to worship God today, right now? Those in our community, in our state, region, nation, and around the globe? Add to that fellowship are those worshiping in heaven, from times past, present, and future.

My grandmother Ruby used to say, it does not matter if you wear your suit or a dress to church if you are wearing your best. Give God your absolute best.

Isaiah must have spoken to Ruby and countless others who are reminding us that being in the presence of God is our purpose, is our mission, in our life. When we go to this moment, give our absolute best to be present for God.

Too quickly we drift into miscellaneous dress codes and comparisons, and mistake fashion for praise. Think instead this way. If you getting married and you wanted your spouse to see you at your absolute best, what would your way to celebrate that first impression?

Isaiah knows God is much more interested in being made whole, presentable, accepted than our getting dressed up for the special occasion.

— for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,

— he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

The appropriate clothes to wear to be in God’s presence are the clothes that God has given us.

Have you ever received some gift from someone who cares very much for you and that gift was something to wear, but even though it is not something you would have selected for yourselves, Mama says, We are going to see your aunt Shirley, “Wear the shirt she gave you.”

What is that about?

Is it proving a point? Or is the wearing of the garments an act of gratitude and appreciate? It is.

Bride grooms have it easier… than the brides.

— as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

One of the things that I think is so funny is that if a woman sees someone wearing the same dress that she has selected she and the other woman have this awkward moment where they share both inward feelings and outward conversation to help resolve that fashion faux pas.

But if a group of women are all asked to wear the very same dress as attendants to their friend who is the bride, who will be wearing the best dress in the house, these same women will claim it as an honor to wear the same dress to the wedding. What’s up with that?

Or consider the lilies and daffodils that are waiting to break through the cold ground of today to announce the coming spring of rebirth!

— For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

Isaiah calls us to be a Garden ready to blossom.

I recall the first time I spent a season of planting corn on the family farm, we planted acers of seeds in the brown clay. The rains came and the days past, and small green leaves transform barren land into an enormous lawn. Most days and nights past and the lawn became green stalks, and green stalks produced small ears of corn, and the tassels came forth and changed in color to report that time of harvest.

Or the digging of holes to be filled with thorny sticks, that with time, water, and nurture became beds of roses of deep and brilliant colors.

God is planting in us, investing in us, nurturing our spirits, that our lives become those moments of beauty and praise.

What does Isaiah teach us to do with this knowing that God is preparing us?

  •  For Zion’s sake, I will not keep silent, and
  • — for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not rest until her vindication shines out like the dawn and
  • — for her salvation like a burning torch.
  • — the nations shall see your vindication, and
  • — all the kings your glory; and
  • — you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give.

Why get dress up? Why give our best? Why nurture our spirit? Why save us from our sins?

It is for God’s sake, that we are blessed, loved, corrected, saved, and made whole.

-You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and

When I sang in our church youth choir our director asked us to describe a diadem. The word that Isaiah uses in this passage describes what we are to God. We did not have Google to look it up, we actually had to go home, find a dictionary, look it up and the first one to find it and call the director at home did not have to lug the choir’s risers up after the next practice. (The promise of food is an inspiration to many, but the avoidance of manual labor inspires a young teenage boy.)

Isaiah paint the spectacular picture of the jewels and precious metals and symbols of authority and sovereignty of the most special crown of crown.

–a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

To God, we who are divided, broken, empty, selfish brutes, God saves us to be the witness of God’s authority, and the fruit of God’s love.

Just as the king or queen would wear a majestic crown, a diadem, we are the witness of God’s greatness, but being all in, fully present, totally committed, and devoted to God.

As we conclude this crazy year, we may indeed have more struggle and journey ahead, but we know the path to the father’s heart, leads through Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit. These are our means of grace. We know to close ourselves in God’s goodness, because left alone, we become a broken, hot mess.

  • We know that under these clothes of God’s goodness, we are vulnerable, afraid, and lost.
  • We know that our best impression only lasts a moment, and God’s claim upon us is to be eternal.
  • We are called to be the crown, the jewel, the witness of God’s power and mercy.
  • May we surrender our will and worries, our weakness and wisdom, trust God with our whole self.

Lord have mercy on me, for your sake, let this and every day, may me life be yours.

  • God be in my eyes and my vision.
  • God be in my hands and my doing.
  • God be in my mind and my thinking.
  • God be in my rest and when I wake.
  • God make me the joy of your salvation. Amen!

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