Vicar’s June letter

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Dear friends,

As I’m sure many of you already know, I’m spending a certain amount of time at the moment thinking about weddings. I suppose that’s true most months as I do take a few weddings each year and I do spend time thinking about what I am doing and how best to do it. That’s even truer after having moved to Cinderford as I am thinking through some of the issues raised by taking weddings in different churches with different traditions. But none of that is really what I’m talking about here. I’m spending a certain amount of time at the moment thinking about my wedding.

Sian and I spend a fair amount of time when we are together thinking about different things to do with the wedding. We have been spending some time thinking through various options in the words that will be used in the service – those used by Geoffrey (who will be taking the wedding) and those used by us. We have chosen hymns, but we’re still not sure whether they would work best with music group or organ. We have chosen readings. We have thought about prayers. We have thought about music for when we sign the registers. We are still thinking about music to be played at the beginning and end of the service – traditional or contemporary, live or CD. (Any suggestions?) We are still thinking about people we could ask to help with readings or prayers.

But there’s not just the service to think about.

We have been thinking about what we will be wearing – my suit and shoes, shirt and tie; Sian’s dress and shoes. What sort of flowers. We have bought a wedding ring. (Yes, ‘ring’ not ‘rings’! What works for William and Catherine works for us!)

We have been thinking about invitations. Colours? Design? Wording? Who do we need to send invitations to?

We have been thinking about what happens after the service. What sort of celebration will we have? Where will we have it? What sort of food will we have? What sort of drinks? Do we provide wine? What about glasses, plates, knives and forks? What about tables and chairs? What about music?  How many people are we catering for? What if it is wet?

Then there’s lots more questions about us going away. Where would we go? For how long? How do we travel? When do we go? Where do we stay on the first night?

Those of you who have had a family wedding recently will know something about all of this. It can all be wonderfully exciting, but it can also be somewhat overwhelming or even frightening. There can be disagreements about particular things or particular people’s involvement or even whether they should be there or not. The whole process can be quite stressful.

I’m sure that even on the day itself there could be worries about all sorts of details relating to the service or the celebration or about particular guests. But it shouldn’t be a stressful time. When I read banns for people, I always pray that the weeks leading up to the wedding will be a time of excitement and looking forward, rather than a time of stress and worry. (I hope that people will be praying that for us.) I can see how worrying about the details could distract people from the really important things that are happening.

That’s not to say that the little things aren’t important. In the Bible we can read about a time when Jesus went to a wedding. Given what we know about Jesus, if we didn’t know the story we might expect to read that Jesus was in charge in some way, conducting the service (whatever form of service there might have been in first century Israel), or, more likely teaching something profound about the meaning of marriage and the importance of allowing God to be part of the marriage. But no, Jesus had no official role and he said nothing. He was there with his family and his friends, celebrating with everyone else. We quite possibly would not have known Jesus was there at all if something hadn’t gone wrong. So what went wrong? Well, they ran out of wine. You probably know the story. Jesus, asked by his Mum to sort things out, turned water into wine. Lots and lots of water into lots and lots of wine – not just any wine, the very best wine. Not many people knew what had happened. Jesus wasn’t trying to make a big statement – I don’t think the bride and groom knew what had happened. The person responsible for making sure all went well (I guess the equivalent of a best man at a wedding today) certainly didn’t know what had happened. So why did Jesus do it? Why did he change the water into wine? Well, I suppose in some ways the easiest answer to that question is ‘Because his Mum asked him to’. That’s true and says something about Jesus’ relationship with his mother. But also he did it because he cared about the people whose wedding it was, he cared about the ‘best man’ and he cared about the guests. He didn’t want the couple or the ‘best man’ to be embarrassed, he didn’t want the guests to feel awkward and he did want everyone to have an enjoyable time. Jesus cared about the little things, he cared about the details. He did then and he does now. We should involve him in our planning and you should involve him in whatever it is that you are thinking about or worrying about at this time.

Jesus cares for you and he cares about the details of your life. Involve him in everything that is going on and see what a difference it makes.