I’m traveling to northern Minnesota this weekend to officiate a wedding
for a college friend and his fiancé.
Confession 1: As a pastor I haven’t always loved doing weddings.
Confession 2: If you did a blind survey of pastors asking if they prefer doing weddings or funerals, I’d bet most pastors would prefer doing funerals.
My attitude about weddings has changed greatly in the past few years for two interconnected reasons:
I’ve long believed that everyone deserves a good funeral, which has led me to help with dozens of funeral for strangers when a funeral home reaches out for help. Then, it dawned on me: why shouldn’t every marriage deserve a good beginning?
Friend weddings are…different. It’s a tricky road to be pastor and friend and I haven’t always negotiated it well. Now that officiated the weddings for a few friends, I can see how important a good beginning is for a new marriage. Marriage is hard enough as it is, shouldn’t we at least start well?
The first wedding I officiated was for good friends from Chicago, the wedding was just after I was ordained. It was so close in fact that I insisted that they have a backup plan just in case I wasn’t ordained by then (yikes).
Officiating weddings for my friends has a become a special gift that I can give as people I love so much begin their lives together and I’ve come to see that is true when I am a part of any couple’s special day.
The truth is most of my friends aren’t asking me to officiate their weddings because I’m a pastor (after all anyone can get ordained online), they are asking me because I’m their friends and they have a need (deeper than they probably know) for ritual as they begin their marriage. I think that is true for all of us.
Especially for the “spiritual but not religious” among us, ritual is something to be shunned or a complete turnoff from the church. Yet, at weddings and at funerals ritual helps us to create meaning, to speak to our deepest needs, and to know and be known.
The couple getting married this weekend couldn’t resist getting married on May 4th. So to the newlyweds and to you, I say, “May the fourth be with you!”