Sometimes it’s nice to see another perspective to give you a whole rounded view of things.
This weekend gone, I was a guest at a friend’s wedding. It was a church service in a Cathedral in Brisbane. The cathedral was impressive from both the outside and the inside. The inside was vast and ethereal. The altar was dramatic and beautiful at the same time. The grandeur of the space made all the guests look minuscule in numbers and all of whom were encompassed by the almighty music reverberating from the golden organ in corner. When the stunning bride walked down the aisle, it was like an angel appearing from a bright light. You could only see her silhouette, but as she walked closer to alter, she began to appear more (w)holy.
Throughout the service, I was waiting to hear certain words like what is acknowledged as marriage in Australia and I had to constantly remind myself that I was at a religious ceremony. The multiple prayers, the standing up and back down again, the repetition of God and Lord Jesus Christ felt so foreign to me. Even though I went to a Catholic high school of 6 years, it was like I had forgotten everything – all the words, the procession, the hand gestures.
It was almost a shock to the system at how different the service was to a ceremony conducted by a celebrant. It’s not that I have never attended marriage in a church before, it’s just that it was the first church service I had attended since becoming a celebrant and I was surprised at how suddenly aware I was of procession and the words being said.
I’ve recently read a lot of civil ceremonies and considered a lot of the wording that is used when conducting a service to unite two people together. Now whilst a religious ceremony has a lot of hat tipping to the big guy upstairs and a few (too many) “Amens”, it made me think about what I could take away from it.
I think it was after my friends had said their vows that the priest said (and I paraphrase) that with an exchange of a few simple words there are many complex meanings. The values of family, children, support of friends and family, a blessing for good health are so core to the church’s preaching that you cannot argue this foundation. In almost every part of the service the word love is used. St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians about love being patient and kind, that it’s always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes, it does not come to an end. Love binds you together. Love and honour each other. And of course, in the words of Jesus, love one another as I have loved you. With the simple exchange of I do or I will it signifies an instant connection between people, family groups and communities because of the love that two people share for one another.
These teachings of how to appreciate and treat the person you are committing yourself to for the rest of your life, are fundamental attributes to marriage and are principles of behaviour which we should always aim to uphold. And it is this perspective that I am reminded of, even though I walked away from religion the moment I walked out of my high school for the last time, it is still important to appreciate, consider and remember these words of wisdom.
So to my friends, and my friends who choose to get married in a church in the future, thank you for reminding me to consider other’s perspectives and to look at things with a more rounded view.