Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Wedding

Weddings are wonderful experiences. Last weekend we had a wedding at Bethel and as always, the bride was beautiful and the groom, handsome. Some of my colleagues hate doing weddings, but I, on the other hand, love doing weddings. They are a wonderful occasions in which to become closer to the families, particularly the bride and groom. It’s an opportunity to bear witness to the meaning of marriage and our faith in counseling sessions, of course. Weddings are also occasions when emotions are running high and deep. If there are tensions in a family, they will likely surface for consideration during the wedding process. But, even under the best of circumstances, a wedding brings out deep feelings. It’s a worship service during which we invoke God’s presence. We don’t do anything without God around here, and hopefully in our lives. The wedding service begins by reminding us that marriage was God’s idea and that God made us male and female for each other. The service then reminds us of the story of Jesus presence at a wedding of Cana of Galilee, reassuring us all that Jesus does in fact do weddings. Then, the couple answers a question of intention. This goes way back to the time when you might come to your wedding day under duress. The questions make sure at the start that each one, the bride and groom, is entering in to this covenant of their own free will. Next, dad is asked: “Who gives the bride to married to him?” Now, the United Methodist service added in recent years a response for the whole family, and when I’ve used it is it good to have everyone’s blessing. But, still, the bride wants dad to have a part in the service, albeit brief. Dad, after bringing the daughter in, answers: “Her mother and I”, and then sits down, handing off the bride’s hand to the groom. Sometimes Dad kisses the bride before retiring to sit with the mother. This is a sad thing to see the Dad walking back to sit down. I’m speaking as a Dad of three daughters, of course. The service goes on with scripture. I give them several options, but most of them select 1 Corinthians 13, the chapter on love. Then, the service calls for a sermon. Some call it a homily to ensure that it will be short. I always keep it short, but it’s an opportunity to speak to the couple about the meaning of marriage. And, everybody listens in. This past weekend I said four things to the couple. I said that I hoped they would understand that marriage is about: 1. Leaving some things behind 2. Learning every day about love 3. Laughing a lot 4. A loving, lasting commitment Then, the couple follows me up to the altar to the kneeling bench. And, they face each other and say their vows. I tell them to look at each other, not me. Then, I get the rings from the maid/matron of honor and the best man. We finally learned that you don’t let the ring bearer (a child) have the real ring. You don’t know what they will do. It’s nice to have children as a part of the service but… I bless the rings and give them to be put on. Then, after all this I put my hand on theirs and announce that they are husband and wife together. What God has joined let no one put asunder. Then, they kneel at the altar for a prayer of blessing. Then, they say the Lord’s Prayer. Their first act as a married couple is to say a prayer, the Lord’s Prayer. They stand. I give the benediction. I tell them to kiss and they walk to the front where I say: “Mr. and Mrs….” And, usually, the congregation applauds. That’s an altogether wonderful way for the congregation to show their support and blessing and love. Then, we sign the license and get some more pictures and then we party. Call me silly, but I do enjoy these occasions. I believe that Jesus shows up at weddings still. And, that when two people come to the altar of God and give their vows to each other it’s positively sacramental. This may be the riskiest thing that most Christians do. It’s a gift. In a few days, we will celebrate with a couple who is celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Love takes a long time. Blessings! Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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About Me

A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

The Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee