Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's about more than an Aisle

A couple weeks ago, here at the church the phone rang and a young woman began a tale of being baptized in our church, how her brother had been married here and her family had gone here. HAD.

And how important it was to reconnect with this church. Oh, and she is engaged.

After listening politely I asked if either she or her beloved currently were a part of the congregation. They are not. I thoughtfully explained the wish of the congregation that one of them be a part of the congregation. (Lovely church that we are we don't just offer the loveliness for hire). I asked if she and her beloved were thinking of becoming a part of our church. "We could" she said. Not a ringing endorsement, but I offered to meet with the two of them face to face to talk about it all. Told her of the times for worship and encouraged her/them to come and be a part of worship here.

And that was all that transpired til today. They arrived and we all settled in. I asked again about their situation and learned the woman's Mom lives a few blocks away. "Have I met her?" I wondered. No, I was told, because she doesn't get out much and doesn't come here anymore. I renewed exploration of whether the couple was intending to be connected with this church. Well, there was the issue that they live about 25 minutes away. And he has mandatory Sundays at work. When I asked about her schedule, he offered she did not work Sundays. And she quickly corrected him that she could have to and sometimes she did. Hmmm.

While recognizing the sentimental connection to this church I wondered aloud if maybe another church closer to them might offer them a faith community they could connect with.
Silence. If it had been night time I might have heard crickets.

Well, then, can you tell me why having a wedding in a church is important? After all, marriages can happen anywhere and lots of people can officiate. And she blurted out:


Well, there you have it.

I offered that there are many places which offer the chance to walk down an aisle. That the reason to be married in the church is that you believe that God is central to your life. That a religious ceremony offers- this is where the man chimes in- " God's blessing in your marriage." Exactly.

We really do offer more than an aisle or great pictures or a sentimental moment. We offer community. It starts when we meet for a few times and talk about the strengths of your relationship and the challenges you might face. And we offer people who will walk with you. And we offer help growing in what it means to be a follower of Christ and how that shapes our doing and being. It's not about being legalistic. It's about being centered in something and someone greater.

I can't make that be important to you. But I can tell you we believe it is important. So if you want to think about what's been said and discuss it, know that I am open to continuing to talk and explore all of these things but that takes getting together face to face because relationships deserve that.

SO she looks at him and says- "I don't know what do you think?" He defers and says that this is really her decision. "Oh fine, put it on me! That way when you don't like it, it was my idea!" OK. I encouraged them to take time and talk, when they can do it without me sitting there. Let me know. I am here.

I don't think we'll see each other again, but based upon my twenty minutes today, I really do hope they take their time. Because while I regret to inform them that we are about more than an aisle. So is marriage.


Jeri Culbertson said...

I find it interesting the way some people (and I know a few) look at the church as a "backdrop" rather than see it as the solid foundation on which to start your new life together. Let alone the foundation you need to get through life's daily challenges. I hope this couple finds their way and may it be with a solid relationship with God.

Bill C said...

What a great example of pastoral care and leadership! Thanks for sharing so that other might learn. Indeed you are a blessing, whether or not they recognize it.

Anonymous said...

Kudos on being managing both grace and tact without hedging on the principle of 'Church.' I wrestle with this one a lot (but only abstractly, so far). As you say, we can't make it important to them, but we do have to say that it is important. Perhaps our next job is explaining to ourselves why it is important... Thanks for sharing this bit of wisdom :)