Pastor Sandi and I had the blessed opportunity to attend the wedding of one of her spiritual daughters in ministry. It was a blessed time filled with joy. There is nothing quite like a traditional service of holy matrimony. The church is all decorated. The groomsmen always look nice and the bride’s maids and matrons are always stunning. There are the flower girls and all the effort put in to keep them and the ring boys looking presentable before the wedding actually starts. Brides always look gorgeous and the liturgy lifts your spirit and reminds you of the better side of society and beginnings of new life journeys.
It occurred to be though how we are seeing fewer and fewer church weddings. It is not just because marriage is down, but rather because more and more couples opt for a wedding ceremony that is a memorable event opposed to a service denoting something which is to be memorable that has occurred in the lives of two families. The distinction is that we don’t come to a religious service for a happening to occur, but rather because something has already happen in our lives that we want to celebrate.
On the last cruise my wife and I took there was a wedding couple and wedding party on board. The captain married them and later introduced them at our dinner. I suspect that it was an awesome event. Getting married on a cruise has to be memorable. I have personally attended weddings in an amphitheater and in a garden.
I have been told a growing trend in some circles is to have the wedding ceremony in the same venue as the reception. That way the people are already there and don’t have to go anywhere.
One might ask what difference does it make where you get married as long as you are getting married. That is a valid point but reflects the current trend around marriage. The issue I raise stems from the not so popular belief that marriage was ordained by God. That is what we say in our marriage liturgy. It is the cornerstone of family which is the cornerstone of community. Marriage is a type and shadow of the relationship between Christ and the Church. The manner in which we enter into it and treat it is reflective of our understanding of what we are getting into. If more who entered into marriage saw it about something bigger than their feelings and attractions it might become something worth putting more time and effort into maintaining. If the marriage was more of an outward declaration of an inner change that had occurred in the lives of two individuals who wanted to commit to something greater than them individually or collectively it might well be something that they wanted God and the family of God to witness to and bless.
Don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying that a wedding is like real estate and all about location, location, location. I am simply lifting the idea that where one decides to get married will often reflect how they understand marriage. That understanding can often be more about the event than the reason for the event. Whenever the event is of more significance than the reason for the event then something is out of sync. This is especially true in spiritual matters. Again and again in scripture we see where God instructed the people to make a memorial. It was never about the memorial but always about what had happen that the memorial was to bring back to their remembrance. As the Church, we are the bride of Christ and gather weekly not to have a great experience but to remember what has happen in our lives that is worth celebrating again.