I think there are a couple of reasons for this: (1) almost all the weddings I have conducted over the last 30 (yikes!) years have been outdoor venues. Spring and summer weather, for the most part, cooperates with making outdoors a beautiful backdrop for this momentous occasion; and (2) work loads tend to be a bit lighter and it’s often easier to schedule vacations and honeymoons.
A couple, whose wedding I had the honor of officiating, is celebrating 19 years of marriage. In this day and age that is a marvelous accomplishment! We were trading comments on Facebook and she thanked me for all that I had done for her family. Of course I was touched, but what really jangled my memory was how I had been a pastor to various members of her extended family over the years. It really was a privilege to be a trusted resource for them.
Here’s what’s so fascinating for me: there’s been a large contingency of people who invited me in to serve as their pastor who were not members of any church I served. There has always been a need for pastoral care and services for people who do not attend a local church. They still want a spiritual advisor for key life events like weddings and memorial services. But often they bump up against other life events like a diagnosis, addiction, or crumbling family dynamics. What then?
Yes, I may have a little more formal training, but we all share in upholding and encouraging one another. Being there doesn’t require any formal training. And in those tough times, there really isn’t anything to say. In fact, the less said, the more appreciated. Too many fill the void with thoughtless platitudes that aren’t helpful at all. A sincere presence is all that’s needed much of the time. Professional resources still have a valuable place, but they cannot take the place of those trusted friends who fill the supportive role.
Weddings are joyous occasions. Family and friends witness the exchange of vows and sealing those vows with rings, joining hands, and the kiss (unless you, like the royal couple, get married in the Anglican church where no kiss occurs). Friends and family are the community that surrounds the couple. As the couple says “I do” the community is also saying “I do.” I do promise to be there to support the two of you in all of the joys and sorrows of life.
We expect couples to honor their vows. Are we willing to also honor ours to them?
Join me in wishing Anne and Pat continued joy in their marriage!