most Protestant pastors the phenomenon of a bride or a groom (or both) requesting
the pastor to preach a "little sermon" during their wedding ceremony
is perhaps a rare occurrence. Despite the infrequency of such desires in the
past, however, I have found in my own ministry this seemingly newfound need.
Although not limited to, but especially for young couples, the wedding sermon
or homily furnishes a pastor an opportunity to place the wedding not only into
the context of worship, but in fact, place matrimony directly into the context
of the Christian faith.
this be a reaction to the common notion that Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and David
Popenoe outlined in their research? A report on their work notes that, "Traditional
social forces, such as the family, religion, and the workplace, used to pressure
men toward marriage, but that is no longer the case. . . . With the relaxation
of social pressures, coupled with general silence about unmarried couples living
together, 'men can relax their timetable indefinitely.'" (from "Wedded
Bliss Not a Priority for Bachelors" by Cheryl Wetzstein, The Washington
Times, 26 June 2002). The article goes on to share many of the commonly held
assumptions about marriage that have little, if anything, to do with the church's
biblical and theological understandings of Christian marriage.
repetition of the wedding sermon requests indicate to me that at least some
couples sense the need for recapturing the sacredness of marriage. It is not
necessary to provide a long litany of statistics about marriage difficulties
in our society. Pastors know from long and conceivably agonizing experience
the statistics all too well. Instead, I want to believe that a rethinking of
the wedding as a worship service in the minds of at least those who enter into
this sacred covenant is a positive sign. Let us all live in the hope that this
is the case.
may seem odd, but from the pastor's perspective the success or failure of a
wedding ceremony as a worship occasion rises or falls during the initial moments
of the wedding rehearsal. So, I would first insert a succinct word about the
wedding rehearsal. The rehearsal is the best and most logical place to set the
tone of the wedding. It is the one place where the pastor can help participants
understand early on in the process just how important and sacred the service
of marriage is.
we all want a beautiful wedding, want to preach a meaningful sermon, want to
celebrate a family's love for its children, what is most vital in the wedding
process in the resultant marriage. The rehearsal allows the pastor to say things
to the wedding party that helps them understand their role as authentic worship
leaders in this sacred worship rite of the church.
suggest that the wedding sermon also offers a pastor the unique opportunity
to speak to the theological vitality of marriage in a culture that, at best,
looks upon marriage with some ambiguity. Worse than that, because of the culture
in which we live, too many people think of marriage as a hopeless exercise in