Apr 152012
 

Not quite sure what that title will do to my search rankings, and it’s maybe just as well I don’t have any ads on the blog. Perhaps I should explain though.

Marrying my brother-in-law was one of a number of recent ‘firsts’. And, of course, I mean that it was the first wedding ceremony I officiated at. No pressure of course: first time officiating, in front of family, lots of overseas guests, in the Signet Library, seriously ‘mega’ do, Saturday of the Easter weekend (so nothing else to do anyway).

It was a great day, and there was something special about it being a family affair. It certainly wasn’t the case though of there being less pressure because it was family – if anything it was even greater. But as my first time officiating it was good to know that being family was all in the mix of making the day particularly memorable for all concerned.

But I was also able to look on the event with a ‘critical’ eye and have a few things mentally tucked away for future weddings. Little things like: make sure the pianist has all the music they need. Singing the Aaronic blessing unaccompanied, and with so few knowing it, was probably not a blessing on the hearers. Also, make sure the pianist (who was very, very good actually) is familiar with the hymns. Played too slowly, and in ‘piano-bar’ style doesn’t really work for hymns. And another: when you’re doing the ‘stole thing’ (thanks so much, Will and Kate), wrapping it around held hands, make sure that ‘leg’ is long enough to start with so that you don’t have to haul more stole round. There are plenty more tucked away in my head, but I’ll save my blushes.

Regardless, it all went well overall, and much of the nitpicking is me doing that over-analytical thing I do. One more though – I’ll not be rushing to book a wedding on Easter Saturday again though. By Sunday I was somewhat frazzled.

Another first?

Maundy Thursday was my first communion with my new charge. It wasn’t the ‘formal’ Sunday one I had thought would be my first, and so it was very different to what I had anticipated. On Maundy Thursday, one of my congregations has a meal moving into communion. Everyone sits around tables set up in the (relatively open) chancel area. There are a few hymns, a prayer and readings. Then there is a simple supper, at the end of which the sacrament begins.

It’s a very good way of telling the story of the Last Supper, and allows it to be very symbolic, with more than just the words telling the story effectively. In fact, the ‘narrative’ can be pared down significantly, without losing any of the story, which has, in effect, just been re-enacted. I suppose there’s scope for further dramatisation, but I think that risks detracting from the ‘simplicity’ of the service, and possibly getting in the way of the ‘event’ if not done exceedingly well.

The only thing I struggled with in preparation was wondering how to finish the service. I suddenly remembered though, one of the candidates’ conferences. Much to everyone’s annoyance it was held during Holy Week, but it was the only time available to fit it in. On the Thursday of the conference we had our evening meal, followed by communion (sound familiar?) and then I suddenly remembered how we finished. We went out into the garden and completed the ‘story’ of the events after that first Last Supper. So that’s what we did the other week. We went out into the church grounds (nice night, dry, under the trees, very quiet {the joys of a rural churchyard}) and read the rest of the story up to the point when the disciples all fled. No blessing, no more words. Just the symbolism of the assembled company dispersing. Who says there’s nothing to be gained from conferences?

And another first.

This time for the congregation. On Good Friday we had a Tenebrae service – something the congregation were unfamiliar with, but, according to feedback, very much enjoyed. I was a little sneaky though. There’s still a little bit of suspicion concerning the West Angus Area Ministry setup, of which I am, officially, a team member – it was part of what I was inducted into. Anyway, the area team decided that this would be the Good Friday evening service in Kirrie, and the other congregations were invited to attend. Other members of the team participated in the readings and so it was very much a WAAM event. Drip! Drip! Drip!

There have probably been a few more ‘firsts’ in recent weeks, but they’ve probably been overwhelmed by some of those ‘biggies’.

I wonder what the next ‘first’ will be? It surely can’t top marrying my brother-in-law!

  6 Responses to “I married my brother-in-law”

  1. Hi John,
    You’ve entered into the extremely busy world of full time ministry with a bit of a bang ! Lots of things for you to analyse (which you’re already doing). Good to improvise, and be a bit sneaky sometimes…
    I had the Tuesday service of Holy Week and because we’d had the stations of the cross already, I revisited the Monday theme of cleansing the Temple but chucking over a table symbolically laden with two piles of thirty pieces of silver, then moved to the Tuesday by spraying some nard perfume as the evening offering was taken, reminding people of Jesus anointing by Mary. Trying to introduce some sensory worship….
    Also have a first for weddings for me…. the bride is a Hillman Imp nut and has seven bridesmaids, each arriving at the church in an Imp. I’ve contacted Top Gear…..

    • I’ve never married my brother-in-law, but I have been father of the bride to my sister. My sister was my best man. And one Monday I shocked my colleagues when I announced that over the weekend I had asked two women to marry me, and they both said yes…

  2. I love that your banner is random bits of church stonework… And a cat. ^_^
    We googled Eilidh’s mum and her designer-designed website banner uses Comic Sans. Bleh. Yours is much cooler.
    Btw, I’m thinking of getting a ferret.
    🙂

    • Oh wait…. It changes-No cat. Still, no Comic Sans. That’s a plus…

    • The header rotates to various images from my trip to Israel and Palestine. I do like the cat one. It’s actually an ornamental well/fountain in Jerusalem and the cat (I think there were two, in fact) was lurking in the shadows.
      And no, no comic sans, ever!
      Re: ferrets – what about the smell? (Maybe it’ll get used to it in time, I suppose).

      • That’s cool!
        I just thought it summed you up rather well – church and cats. 😉
        I’ve deactivated my facebook until my hand-in is over. I have to stalk the old-fashioned way now!
        I don’t mind the ferrety smell: they can be descented anyway and if you keep them clean it’s apparently not so bad… I spoke to the vet the other week and it doesn’t seem like vet bills will be terribly expensive so long as I have insurance.

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