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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Separation, Reunion, Easter, and Eschatology

A little over a month ago my wife and I got some interesting news: she got the job. The position for choir director at her old middle school opened up mid-semester, and the school needed a "permanent substitute." (Permanent sub because the original teacher was still under contract, but could no longer maintain the position.) Given her degree in music-education, she applied for the spot. Lo and behold, the job was given to her. Not only was she offered the job, but she also took it. What this meant for us was that we would be living apart for a while. We have not been living together for about a month now. I think, however, I have learned some things I would not have discovered otherwise. 

The general response to telling our friends about this news was, "That's good... I think..." Understandable. She gets to teach in her chosen field: music. Now, I don't know about the rest of the states, but music jobs are hard to come by in Texas. While the arts are generally the first to go with budget cuts, I am mostly unaware of how this has affected the other 49, but it appears no new positions are being made for the arts in my neck of the southern woods. The bad part, however, is the marital separation. If someone asks, "Hey, where's Julie?" I can joke and say something along the lines of, "Oh, she left me. No biggie." There was an opportunity, and we're both glad she took it.

Even so, I think I've gained new appreciations for a couple things. Not so much things like her cooking (I can make a mean bowl of cereal and the best PB&J you ever did have) or having my best friend around, but other concepts have taken on a different meaning to me. Something that occurred to me only tonight was of an eschatological nature: the Second Coming of Christ.

Throughout the Gospels there are allusions, references (implicit and explicit), and outright statements about Jesus coming back after he leaves. Parables are told, lessons are taught (even when they aren't necessarily learned), and minds and hearts are altered. You've got a thief who strikes in the dead of night, a shepherd whose sheep recognize his voice, and a slew of other stories. But the ones that stick out to me are the marriage analogies. There are virgins awaiting the coming of a groom, entire families awaiting his return, a bride eagerly anticipating the time when he will come for her. This is all beautiful imagery, especially in light of Jewish marriage traditions in which the groom goes to add on to his father's house so that he and his wife will have a home. He spends exorbitant amounts of time, energy, and whatever money he can muster to prepare a place for her.

What sticks out to me most here is the eager anticipation of one to come. Now this is a grand thing, but being in the position of one who eagerly anticipates the next time I get to hold my wife in my arms changes my mental perspective considerably.

As of now, I won't get to see her until Easter weekend, which contains beautiful symbolism by itself already! Think of it: at the celebration of the resurrection of the Christ I will see my wife. This celebration is, in my opinion, an event the likes of which is unparalleled to any other experience in the Christian faith. The entirety of Jesus' life lead up to the Passion, the death, the resurrection. While we wait here and now for the coming, we reenact his life in the sacraments of baptism and communion. For some faith traditions, marriage is a sacrament as well. And why shouldn't it be? If the church is the bride of Christ, should our marriages not also reflect that eager anticipation of things to come?

As I await the time when next I will behold my bride, I also anticipate the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. This, to me, is the most beautiful coincidence in which I have ever had the opportunity to take part. So as much as I hate being away from my wife, I am grateful that God has taught me the value of awaiting the arrival of a glorious reunion.

Grace and peace,

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