The glass slipper lies idly on the cold stony steps waiting to be held. The voiceless beauty awaits a true loves kiss. The sleeping beauty waits even longer. The pumpkin turns into a carriage, the dwarfs sing in chorus, the witch is dead.
And the prince gets his princess. And they lived happily ever after.
Except Jesus didn’t really get his princess.
The tale told in the bible of the Prince and his bride is no Disney story. It’s more a tale from the Grimm’s archives, full of twisted darkness and rotten apples…You learn quickly that the church isn’t really the idyllic bride for the King of Kings.
The bride doesn’t start off in a pretty dress or from a wealthy family. She isn’t really scrubbing floors because her ugly sisters tell her to. She isn’t even trapped in a tower awaiting her prince. She certainly isn’t singing along with the wildlife.
In the beginning, the bride starts off being loved and adored by her prince. She starts off in the safety and comfort of his arms. The sun is setting and its beautiful. Your heart swells with love at this scene. A Perfect Disney moment.
A seed of doubt is planted and the bride averts her gaze from the prince onto other men and other things. She began to despise the prince and started to sleep around. Adultery, prostitution and craving to be loved mixed together like a toxic potion. She drunk it freely, licking her lips and enjoying every moment.
Time passes and she slips further and further into the darkness. She doesn’t realise how far the darkness has crept in, how her deep longings are never satisfied, how twisted her heart feels. She is lost but utterly out of control.
What was the prince doing?
Wooing, winning, taking her back. Every time wrapping his arms around her even though she would push him away. Always speaking tenderly, telling her again how much He loved her. But she didn’t want the glass slipper or to be woken from her slumber of darkness. The light was too bright for her eyes.
The bride was marked. Spoiled and used. Utterly helpless. Utterly broken. Full of shame. Unfit for the King of Kings.
And a bounty on her head.
But she was his bride. And He loved her. He didn’t give up.
He fought for her. He didn’t ride on a horse wearing shiny armour, he didn’t take her on a magic carpet ride. He entered into the mess she was in. He went into the pit and covered himself in her shame, in her brokenness and he took her mark onto himself. He left his Kingly court and sacrificed himself for her.
She isn’t a princess, she is messed up and broken. She doesn’t have perfect hair or a perfect dress. But the Prince loves her and wipes the dirt from her forehead and carries her out of the pit. He binds up her brokenness and heals her wounds. He catches the tears from her eyes and cherishes her forever.
He then takes off the dirty tattered rags that she is clothed with, that marks her brokenness and past life and he clothes her with new clothes, clothes that she never thought she would ever wear. It’s a beautiful dress. Better than any Disney princess dress. The bride wears a dress fit for the king.
Jesus doesn’t marry a princess. He marries a broken, hurt, shamed woman whom he adores, heals and loves.
Why is this good news? Why is this not just a mamby pamby Christian Disney tale?
Because the church welcomes the broken, hurt, full of shame, full of pain, outcast people to be part of the bride of Christ. Because that is what the bride of Christ is; a messed up people, learning together to walk with Jesus, to be renewed, healed and loved.
So that, at the end of days, we can eat at the wedding supper totally renewed, refreshed and wearing clothes of great spender fit for the King of Kings.