17The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
I can understand that the bride says come. The bride is the faithful community yearning for God’s kingdom to be present in its fullness. In the time of Jesus the final negotiations between the family of the bride and the family of the groom could go late into the night. The family of the bride wants to be sure everyone knows they are reluctant to part with such a precious member of their family. But once the negotiations are over, the groom comes by torchlight to claim his bride. The “bridesmaids” are waiting with lamps to join the festal procession (thus the parable of the 10 virgins). And in this story’s most ideal and romantic form, the bride waits eagerly to be claimed by her husband and taken by him to live with him forever.
Those who have heard Jesus’ voice, those who have seen in him the signs of God’s kingdom, God’s reign, those who have seen lives and communities made whole, who have seen the wounded restored and the broken raised up, who have seen the marginalized welcomed and the outcast gathered in, those who have tasted the bread of heaven and seen the world-to-be where all are fed, those who have drunk the new wine as at Cana, the Spirit of grace and joy – these all wait with eager longing for the bridegroom to come and claim his bride, to come and claim his world, to wipe away every tear, to lift away every sin, to fill the world with light and life.
I can understand that the bride says, “come.” But the Spirit also says, “come!” God himself cries out for the fullness of that great wedding banquet when heaven and earth are joined. It is not we alone who yearn for a world freed from fear and sorrow; God so yearns. It is not we alone who yearn for a world where love reigns; God so yearns.
We are on the same side, God and us. We share a common hunger. And the table at which God meets us each Sunday is only the tiniest foretaste of the feast to come. But there the bridegroom comes to meet his bride.
And we say, “Come!”