08 October 2009
Wedding Style with Substance
I had a visit today from a couple younger ladies who were drawn to the traditional architecture of my congregation's sanctuary. Not for worship, mind you, but as a place to have a wedding.
They were scoping out a place for their friend to get married. They are all members at a local Pentecostal mega-church. They were hoping to have the wedding in our sanctuary because they like the "traditional look." They explained that their church "just looks like an auditorium," and they wanted to procure a "more traditional church" for the wedding.
This is not the first such inquiry I've had. On one recent occasion, I got a call from a Roman Catholic lady (whose husband-to-be was a Lutheran, ELCA as it turns out) who even offered to "convert to the Lutheran religion if necessary" in exchange for the use of our sanctuary.
This whole issue is an interesting commentary on many levels.
On the one hand, I find it encouraging that deep within the recesses of modern (postmodern?) young people is a buried appreciation for tradition, a desire to bond with ages past, a still-present sense of catholic continuity - at least in matters of importance. On the other hand, it is distressing that the church sanctuary is basically seen as a prop, a stage set for photo-ops, a backdrop for that perfect fantasy ceremony. Rather than see the Holy Church as an integral element of marriage being woven into the very fabric of life itself, instead the church building is seen as a useful place for a wedding ceremony for the sake of pretty pictures that will be largely ignored a year down the road.
And there is a divorce as well. Instead of seeing marriage as something to be celebrated by one's own pastor, in one's own congregation, under the auspices of one's own denomination, such a view of marriage divorces Holy Matrimony from all of the above for the sake of appearances. Rejecting one's own pastor, congregation, and creed for something "prettier" is no different than growing bored with one's own spouse and seeking someone "prettier" later on. Even as marital fidelity is on the down curve, so is fidelity to one's faith.
We live in a culture that not only rejects commitment, but doesn't even seem to know what it is.
It is also illustrative that a wedding is given much more importance than Sunday worship. Church services are just something we do on Sunday, and so we might as well have fun doing it. In that context, a rock band, drum kit, big screen, speakers, a casually-dressed and dynamic inspirational speaker, and an auditorium with a stage and lectern are good enough. But a wedding is a really big deal, with flowers, dresses, photographers, an altar, a pastor, stained glass, paraments, ritual, and a hopefully Disney-like production of music and pageantry in the form of a matrimonial liturgy.
But what's missing in this cultural lack of commitment and the sacrifice of substance to style is the One who has been sacrificed, who is of "one substance" with the Father, the One who has committed to be with His Bride unto eternity.
--- Rev. Larry Beane