2019 is officially the year of the wedding! As I write, twenty – two couples have booked their weddings across our benefice, and what a joy it is to share with them in their special and important days. This is the largest number of weddings I have ever done in one year; if you know of any special reason for this which I have missed then please let me know! In reality the truth is, that in-spite of the many different and wonderful ways you can get married these days, many still chose the church, and for that I am truly thankful.
We read constantly about how the church is less relevant in our culture. We are told yearly that the church is in decline; unfortunately, this fact is sadly true. But at the same time, we encounter something entirely different. For example, over Christmas nearly 1000 people attended church in our three parishes; now I know that some of these would have been doubling up at different events – but it still speaks clearly that the story we gather around has a place in our culture.
I feel blessed every time I pick up the phone and a tentative voice says ‘what do I have to do to get married at your church?’ People no longer have to make this call – you can get married in a variety of ways and places now; so these calls mean even more to me, these couples have really thought about this and seek something of God’s blessing for their big day and journey ahead.
Weddings are a joy in ministry, and often become a place of sanctuary in a very busy and troubled time. What I mean by this, is that, in a world where so much feels disruptive, painful and at times destructive, gathering with a couple who have fallen in love reminds me and those who attend, that at its most basic, life is still about the important things. Love between two people is life giving and life making; love between two people is a creative force, drawing on our most basic desires to find relationships and live in love. So when we gather in church it feels that all is suspended, as gently we bring two individuals into a new union, created by family, ignited by love and in church, blessed by God; how wonderful is that!?
So across out three churches this summer you will hear the bells a lot. When you hear them, remember that something good has just happened; love has been celebrated and new possibilities are set in motion.
We pray for our wedding couples as they prepare for their big day and give thanks that the most basic of things, love between two people, can still gather family and friends for a time of celebration; good news indeed!
From the registers:
Funerals: Penelope Rhodes – Rosalin Merritt – Reginald Luff – Felicity Woodbridge – John Darling. Douglas Hardwick – Henry Tivnann – Brian Lloyd – Peter Broadway – Ursula Jackson – Linda Bos.
Weddings: Spencer Giles and Mikhaila Borissow – Patrick Savage and Ali Whitham