Officiating a wedding is one of the most under-appreciated functions that a pastor can perform. It’s not that way every time, obviously, but parents with money and families of society tend to view the church sanctuary as their private gazebo and the clergy as a noisy part of the chancel furniture. Wedding policies, in their minds, are for people without enough extroverted gumption to circumvent or ignore them. Mention of God is tolerated, just as long as it is clear that the bride is the center of attention and the reason we are all here. The fact that I don’t allow such nonsense to prevail in weddings that I lead keeps me safely away from the gates of society’s plush boundary. And I’m pretty okay with that, except for some sadness for those who can’t realize the loud emptiness of what they call the good life. But even when the pastor doesn’t gently redirect the parents’ misguided wishes, appreciation is low. As soon as the pastor dismisses the congregation to the reception, he or she is then dismissed from further thought by the wedding’s party. There is no intent to develop relationship with the church, but mainly pragmatic recognition that the church is bigger than the clubhouse, prettier than the Moose Lodge, and less expensive than either. (This discussion is primarily true for non-church members; members whose children get married in the church are generally better, and those occasions are great blessings.)
But that’s not what I wanted to write about. (How long has that been brewing?!) I got to attend a wedding this past weekend, and it was fun. A cousin was married at Shiloh United Methodist Church in Antreville, where I was raised, so it was a nice little homecoming for me. I saw people who were my Sunday School teachers when I was a kid and a high school friend I had not seen since high school. Cousins came from Tennessee and Charleston and Hilton Head, and I got to sit in the pew and be one of them.
The wedding accomplished, we stood under the old cedar trees where the men used to smoke between Sunday School and preaching, and caught up with each other. Then we drove to Abbeville. Here’s a photo of some of the gathered cousins, taken inside the Belmont Inn, the site of the reception:
The couple dancing on the porch while wedding party and guests stand around.
To make an odd posting even moreso, let me show you some pictures of bricks. I like bricks, and Abbeville has lots of them.
The Belmont Inn
The Opera House
The Main Street Square, and old buildings with antique shops
After I drove away and was headed back home toward Lancaster, I remembered that I never spoke to the pastor. He was not the pastor of that church, and I didn’t know him, but I still wanted to say hello. I saw him at the reception, standing with a koozie-wrapped beer bottle and talking to some other guests, but I never broke away from the cousin hilarity to speak. Hmmm. I wonder how he felt about the whole thing. I just hope some folks from the family made him more welcome than I did.