Emily C. Heath
"When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem." - Luke 9
About ten years ago I read Scripture at the wedding of a good friend of mine. One of the readings was this passage from Luke. Although I applauded the fact that my friend had veered from the typical "love is patient, love is kind" reading, I have to admit it felt kind of odd.
When the pastor started preaching she concentrated on this verse: And he set his face to go to Jerusalem. At first I had no idea why this was an appropriate wedding verse. This is about Jesus choosing to go to Jerusalem and towards the certain death he knew awaited him when he arrived. Not so cheerful for a wedding day.
But now, married myself, I get it. I don't mean that marriage means death. (Honestly, honey…I don't.) But I do know now how much marriage means deciding to be married, and focusing on that decision together. It means setting your sights on the covenant you make with your partner, and keeping your "eyes on the prize."
I think that's true of any commitment we decide to make. There are always times of challenge, always times of frustration, and always times of change. Christ knew those were coming when he set his sights on Jerusalem.
But in spite of all of that, there are far more times of joy, redemption, and grace along the way. If you let yourself look away, you will never see them. But if you set your sights on what matters most, you'll be surprised how even the most serious of commitments can feel life-giving. Even in the hardest times.
God, help us to set our sights on Jerusalem, and may you always be in our vision. Amen.
Emily C. Heath is Senior Pastor of The Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire.