20 September 2011

To kiss or to refrain

As a vicar I had an off site supervisor who aided me in things such as weddings as I was not ordained. He taught me and the couple to be married that they were not to kiss at the altar but rather to wait until they had crossed from the nave into the Narthex. His reason for this was good order and to not change the decorum of the worship service from one of reverence to one more like that of the reception with whoops and hollers at the newly married kissing.

There were two weddings during my time as vicar and that was the practice established by him through me. Over the past seven years there have been other weddings and I have continued with this policy and there has been little friction in that regard. (I serve at the same congregation where I was vicar.)

I have been asked however, to rethink or reconsider this. I do not have a problem with rethinking things and in the process of such rethinking asking my brothers in the Lord's service for their input and opinions and practices and the why's of those things. Of course if the conventional wisdom is that this policy is not good or salutary, I will have to work through the complaints of those who have had it other wise. To my knowledge no one has been divorced because they either did or did not kiss at the altar.

So dear brothers, I humbly ask your input. What do you do and why? Is there an historical point that I am missing? There is nothing in TLH, LW, or LSB agenda's that call for a kiss or have words to that effect. In fact what it says in the general notes of the LSB agenda is, "5. As in all worship in the house of God, the rite of Holy Matrimony invokes the presence and blessing of God. Therefore, it should avoid triteness and empty sentimentality." In this light "Here comes the Bride" is never played as well as various other selections. The bride and groom do not write their own vows. And thus, I was taught that kissing was also not done.

I eagerly await you wise and thoughtful inputs.


Admin said...

I affirm your current practice! Sounds like a good plan to me!

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I do not say, "You may not kiss the bride" because, frankly, they are married, why would they need my instruction to kiss. I don't get riled up if they do kiss, as long as it isn't overblown. It's not as though they are just randomly necking up at the front of the Church just randomly after receiving the Supper or some such thing -- this is in the context of a service that would not happen without their specific request and participation.

But then again - I wouldn't knock a congregation where what you describe is the custom either.

Rev. Robert Franck said...

I affirm what Eric Brown wrote. I don't say, "You may kiss the bride," but after the benediction, I have the couple turn and face the congregation and I say something to the effect, "I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. Tom Smith." I let the couple know in advance that if they wish to kiss, that the most appropriate place. Following that comes the recessional.

Rev. Paul L. Beisel said...

Bill - stick to your guns on this. I think that is a reverent and salutary practice. Nothing wrong with it. It is not because we are prudes or against kissing our spouses, but there is a place for it, and the reason given by the supervising pastor is valid. Too often it turns into whooping and hollering by usually the young people. I think you just tell them that there should always be very good reasons to change a practice, and that you can't see any good reasons to change it.

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

Pr. Brown:

You write, "frankly, they are married, why would they need my instruction to kiss?"

They -the married couple- have the right to kiss in their own home. But the setting under consideration here is a very different matter. They are in a sacred place, near the altar, and in the context of the liturgy (whether one can argue that the liturgy has technically ended before the public display of affection has begun is irrelevant-everyone know what is happening in that place that day, ie., it is a liturgical gathering; and even if everyone were gone and the lights turned out, they would still be in a sacred place). Have we no sense of modesty? of reverence? (I don't mean anyone in particular-I mean we the modern Church in general.) Your words are techinally right, ie., they don't need your instruction to kiss; quite the contrary, what the Chuch needs is explicit, active guidance in reverent behavior.