I suppose that over the next wee while I will experience lots of ‘firsts’ as I take up the reins in my first charge.

But there can be few ‘firsts’ quite so special as being invited to officiate at the wedding of a family member. One of the slight added pressures of getting into a charge was the request to conduct the wedding of my brother-in-law and his fiancée. However, the charge has arrived in good time and so I will be able to do the honours in due course.

So, last night was an opportunity to sit down with them and go through the order of service. Of course, never having done one of my own before, it was an interesting experience working out what was to be included in the liturgy, and why (and where). I know the CofS doesn’t hold to a sacramental view of marriage, and I’m happy with that, but I’ve recently been wondering about how we lift a marriage service beyond the ‘legalities with frills’.

I was slightly surprised to discover that the couple wanted something solidly Christian and with ‘gravitas’ (not the word used, but fitting). I was also keen to create the liturgy in such a way that the ‘congregation’ were more involved, or ‘invested’ in what was happening.

I think what we’ve come up with works really well. I suppose it’s loosely based on the 2nd order in Common Order, but definitely only loosely and with other bits thrown in. Broadly speaking, after the first hymn, and a short preamble, we’re into a reading (1Co 13:1-8, nothing original, but by request). This is followed by a short reflection setting the context of Christian marriage in the bigger picture of God’s love and restored relationships (a bit of a hobby-horse theme of mine at the moment) – relationships we are all part of. This then leads to the unifying recital of the Apostles’ Creed. On this basis of God-reflecting, loving relationship, we move into the marriage ceremony itself, finishing that part with a sung Aaronic blessing. There’s then a specially written choral piece during which we may or may not go and sign the schedule, then it’s a prayer, Lord’s prayer, 2nd hymn and benediction.

I like the ‘shape’ – the way it establishes a Christian foundation that is inclusive. I like the way it encourages participation – this is not ‘just’ about two people, but of a much bigger set of relationships. I also like the way that it manages to combine a ‘high’ approach with inclusivity (well, I think it does).

Downside is that it is quite lengthy, but the view of the bride is that it is this part that is the focal point of the day and if that means shaving 10 minutes off the drinks reception immediately afterwards, then so be it.

I doubt that this will become my standard liturgy, but having had this first go at one, and ensuring that it is ‘special’ for people I particularly care about, it has been a very helpful ‘first’. I think it’s really only when you do your first liturgy for anything that you really question why something is there, and why you are using particular words, and why it flows the way it does.

Like I say, it’s the first of what, I’m sure, will be many firsts. Not all will be so pleasurable, but all will be a challenge to ensure God is properly ‘included’ and given His proper place.

Oh, I didn’t mention that the wedding is on the Saturday of the Easter Weekend. Hopefully that will be a first, and last.

3 responses to “Firsts”

  1. The first wedding already…
    When I read through your order it became clear very quickly that there has been a lot of thought put into it. My second thought was that it has the ring of a Systematic Theologian about it, including as it does the Creed. It is a bit too ‘high church’ for me, but that is irrelevant. What matters is that it will be significant for the people getting married, and an order that you can now ‘tinker’ with until you get one that you are completely comfortable with.
    As for Easter Saturday….traditionally nothing happens that day as the Church waits for the Resurrection (which you knew, otherwise you wouldn’t have commented on the first and last time !!), It’s a ‘rule’ I’ve overlooked too… (occasionally).
    I’m sure that you’ll enjoy the day, and that the couple will have a service that they can remember.

  2. Thanks for the feedback David. Let’s just say it ‘satisfies’ the systematician in me. Actually, most of the ‘high’ stuff was at the bride’s request (past tradition and recent Anglican weddings they’d been at – they stay in Englandshire) and I was happy to include as it gave me an opportunity to work it in ‘appropriately’ (to satisfy the systematic theologian).

  3. Englandshire is an interesting liturgical place…. Strangely it was St. Mary’s who first offered help to us when our roof (x2) came off ! They’re not all bad…..

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