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We Will!

May 6, 2013

weddingBetween the beginning of May and the middle of July, I am presiding at two baptisms and three weddings as well as attending a fourth wedding and an inter-faith family covenanting ceremony (and missing two others!).  It would be a small miracle if I didn’t have pastoral liturgies on the brain these days.

Calling these services “pastoral liturgies” recognizes that they are public, shared works of worship (liturgy) which have particular meaning and consequences for some of the participants (pastoral).  This is, of course, true.  No one cares quite as much about the wedding as the couple being married.  No one else has to do any preparation for the baptism except the family or individual concerned.  These services play a role in the pastoral ministry of the church to its members (and, increasingly, to its non-members).  But these services also provide pastoral ministry to the church, a blessing and a gift offered from the couple or individual or family to the gathered community.

In each service, the gathered community is asked if they will do what they can to support the couple or the family or the individual as they seek to uphold the promises they made and live into the fullness of the vocation they have undertaken—whether it is the vocation of Christian or marital maturity.

We are all reminded that maturity is not something we can attain on our own.  We are reminded that following Jesus, living a life of integrity and love and self-giving in unity with God, is not something we can do without help.  We are reminded that, as members of Christian community, we are bound to one another by bonds of mutual accountability, support, and compassion.  We are, perhaps, reminded that it is okay to ask for, and to offer, help.

The first of these many weddings was last Saturday (May 4).  It was a beautiful service—full of heartfelt prayer, music, poetry, and dance.  But perhaps my favourite part was when the congregation was asked if they were prepared to support the couple in their life together.  The “We will” was an enthusiastic, love-filled shout that filled the Cathedral and brought forth delighted laughter from everyone present.

“We will!” – this is indeed a rich blessing, not only for the couple for all the rest of us as well.

originally published in the May issue of the Christ Church Cathedral Family Newsletter


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