To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Weddings’ Category

Weddings And Funerals Etc.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practise cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. The clear implication of Paul’s teaching here is that we should be not be underhand in any of our methods in seeking to advance the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Mr Hinton (I have written about him here) took our wedding some twenty three years ago. I always remember him saying in anticipation of the wedding that we were inviting people to a wedding and not a gospel meeting. Now, I admire that attitude that determines upon making the gospel known at weddings and funerals, for example, but we should never forget the purpose of the occasion. Yes it may well be that people are in a situation where they can hear the gospel for one of the few times in their lives, but we should never forget the purpose of the occasion they are attending.

Those attending should know that they are at a funeral or a wedding and should not feel that a slight of hand has been pulled to use that occasion as a means of cornering them with the gospel.

Of course our Lord Jesus is most precious to us and we should want to make known the message of the Lord’s grace that focuses on Him. And we can do this sensitively and appropriately at both weddings and funerals. But let us not appear manipulative in doing this.

If people suspect what we are being deceitful then all the power that comes through a true God-honouring funeral or wedding conducted for the Lord’s glory can be lost because people suspect what we are up to.

This same principle applies in arranging other events such as evangelicalistic meals. If there is going to be a talk tell people beforehand.  So people know what they are coming to.

Harry And Meghan Get Wed

So what did you think about it; the Royal Wedding last Saturday that is? So much has been written about the event, in particular the sermon by Michael Curry. Accordingly, I hesitatingly throw my little bit into the ring of information and opinion.

  • After all the fanfare and grand entrance we had to listen to a man who seemed less than excited about what was happening. Could they have put someone on who had some more interest and engagement in his presentation. By the way it is important who leads and how we lead our church services.
  • The wording he read was grand though. Talking about husband and wife and the fact of a man and woman coming together being at the heart of marriage. Good to hear. Mmmmmmmh where does that leave same-sex marriage? Finished and in the grave one would hope! But such is a vain aspiration I fear.
  • Great to hear a confession of our Trinitarian God.
  • At least Justin Welby was somewhat more lively.
  • And then there is Mr Curry. Vast amounts have been written. Two most helpful contributions would be by Stephen Kneale here and David Robertson here. Here are some of my thoughts upon:
    • The fact that he spoke with passion and warmth seems to have taken people aback. How can we have got into such a state that people expect to come to church and hear something delivered in a cold and detached manner. Surely it should be de rigeur that we preach with warmth and passion. Now passion and warmth are incarnated and therefore will vary from person to person, but they must be there.
    • He did say some better things than most in a similar position have done. He did speak warmly of Jesus Christ.
    • However, let us be clear; he did not preach the gospel. It is shocking that people in evangelical circles can be thinking the he “preached the gospel.” Do we really understand what the gospel is? See here for my previous thoughts on this.
    • I am drawn back to Dr Lloyd Jones great teaching in his book on the Sermon on the Mount about how false teachers are known not by what they say, but by what they do not say. And normally that means lots of love and little sin and judgement which is exactly what was there on Saturday.
  • I’m not sure what place a rendition of “Stand by Me” had in the context of a church service. More suitable for the reception I would have thought. But that is all part of wanting to have church to make me feel good rather than being challenged about the call of God on our lives.
  • Hence, returning to Mr Curry’s sermon, it is all part of creating a certain view of God which is bolstered by a selective use of the Bible. Then we are encouraged to work ourselves into/towards this version God that has been revealed to us. And we all go away happy because this nice convenient God is now happy with us.
  • Whereas the love of God is truly experienced when I submit in all brokenness before this mighty God and am totally dependent upon Him to raise me up and bring me to Himself. Now that is the love of God.
  • The airbrushing of Meghan Markel’s divorce was interesting as well. No mention of it at all. Now I know the Christian gospel is all about forgiveness and restoration. But vows have been taken by Ms Markel previously and have not been fulfilled. Our society seems to be very casual about keeping your word and honoring vows. It is a startling thing about the Old Testament that vows were viewed in the highest regard. For a society to be bound well together, honoring of commitments is vital. It was all as if nothing had happened.
  • And then there is the magnificent white wedding dress. Yes it was respectable and all that. But is not the white wedding gown supposed to be a declaration of virginity? Which leaves me wondering?!

Just some thoughts.

 

Party, Party.

I am left somewhat concerned as to how Christians celebrate special events like birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and the like. When I see the bar open and the alcohol flowing, the lights dimmed, the dancing and when I hear the noise; I am left wondering. And about that noise; please tell me how we are meant to have fellowship when you can’t hear yourself think! Is all this really a godly celebration? I am left wondering, surely we can do better; surely we can make a better attempt at honouring the Lord.

The scenes I have observed, on occasion, seem to resemble more of Herod’s big party (see Mark 6:21-29) than they do a feast for the Lords’s people. Where is the self-control, the meekness, the decency and the propriety? Rather, sensuality and indulgence seem to be the order of the day.

Perhaps I may be ridiculed for my restrictive killjoy streak and what I say will be dismissed as archaic. But I just think there must be a more godly and a more joyous way of celebrating. So why is it that these things happen:

  • Is it just that we are not confident enough in the Lord to say we are just going to cut the trash and in wholesome simplicity enjoy honouring Him?
  • Perhaps it is simply that people don’t think and just say that this is the way it is done so we will do the same.

What I want to do is to encourage some thinking. I want to stimulate some trust in the Lord so that we will celebrate in a pure way and leave the outcome to Him. Surely we do not have to be perturbed if the world finds it boring. Of course they will, because they do not understand the joy of the Lord. However, it is worth saying that when the Lord’s people honour Him together, no doubt some from the world will be struck and know that this is a better way than the dubious, fleshly celebrating so often found in the world.

Ask The Father.

It is a thing of tradition that the man who wants the hand of a certain lady in marriage, seeks the permission of the lady’s father before moving towards marriage. This may seem quaint and even sexist to many today, and yet it does seem to be an appropriate practice.

I take this from the principles established in Genesis 2 where the man takes the woman to join him in establishing a new household. Previously she has been in her father’s domain, but now she is switching. It seems a matter of courtesy and good order for the man to approach the father to take his daughter to be his wife.

It is interesting to read in Numbers 30:3-8 about the responsibility that a father has for the daughter’s behaviour and the husband has for the wife’s behaviour. The impression given is that of a man taking over the responsibility that the father previously had.

Finally, the whole idea that the man has nurtured his daughter and has her taken away from him without his permission seems somewhat offensive.

What Should I wear

The LORD’s call upon our lives is that just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do (1 Pet. 1:15). In all our ways we should show that we belong to the LORD; we are separated to Him. Accordingly, there are no parts of our lives which are off-bounds as regards to God being interested in how we conduct ourselves. One such area concerns how we dress.

First of all we need to establish clearly what drives us in our choice of clothes. In Rom. 12:1-2 Paul urges the Roman believers Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. The pattern of this world should not be what gives the impetus regarding our attire, but what is according to the mind of the LORD. The glossy magazines, which advocate certain fashion styles, should be handled with care.

Normality

God is primarily interested today in our inner transformation rather than outward conformation. Accordingly our clothing should not be attention-grabbing. Rather it is our characters which should be attention grabbing. We see this with our Saviour; there was nothing about His attire which shouted for attention as he lived in this world. Is. 53:2b speaks of Him that He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. From this we deduce that His clothing as a man was according to the normal conventions of the day. A lot of fashion changes have no moral significance and in that sense we should happily fit in with the general styles of the day.

Beauty

The propensity to display and show ourselves off is prevalent in the world around us. And both scripture and experience indicate that this is something to which ladies are particularly prone. In Is. 3:16-24 we read The LORD says, “The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles. Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the LORD will make their scalps bald.” In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and ankle chains and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, the signet rings and nose rings, the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls. Instead of fragrance there will be a stench; instead of a sash, a rope; instead of well-dressed hair, baldness; instead of fine clothing, sackcloth; instead of beauty, branding. The action of the LORD shown here shows what He thinks of “the women of Zion” dressing like the world.

Rather the wholesome godly desire of a sister is shown in 1 Peter 3:4-5 where Peter addresses the wives and says Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. The Christian woman should NOT want people to immediately say “isn’t she pretty”, but rather “isn’t she godly”.

Modesty

To make sure that it is the beauty of the inner being which is on display the scriptures counsel that modesty should be found in the dress of a sister. Paul says I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God (1 Tim. 2:9-10). The inner beauty of godly character is seen in good deeds and NOT fancy clothes.

Male and Female

At creation mankind was created male and female. Such a distinction is important to God and should be displayed in the clothes that we wear. The law of God codifies this and says A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this (Deut. 22:5). No doubt such a distinction needs to be outworked according to the cultural standards of the day, but it must not be ignored.

Sensitivity

One driving principle of new Testament teaching is that we act in such a way towards one another so as to prevent each other from stumbling in our walk with God. The Lord in Rom. 14:13b says make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. Elsewhere the LORD Jesus says I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt. 5:28). Putting these two lines of truth together leads us to consider the need for us to dress in such a way so that my clothing does not give any encouragement for a brother or a sister to be led to commit adultery in their heart. Love dictates that the freedom I have in Christ is never exercised to harm someone else.

Similarly in church could it be the case that someone is being prevented from giving due attention to God’s Word in the services on account of their attention being diverted by the suggestive attire of someone else in the congregation?

The way we dress then is important. In this study principles have been laid down. The implementation of them varies from age to age according to the changes of fashion. They also vary according to circumstance. Milking the cows on a farm requires different attire to attending a “posh” dinner. Nevertheless at all times in all circumstances we should be careful to uphold God’s standards in how we dress.

(Taken from Feltham Evangelical Newsletter of March 2008)

Master of Ceremonies

I am thinking here of weddings, but it applies to so many different social occasions. And I am thinking of the need to have a good Master of Ceremonies (MC). A good MC is something you don’t appreciate when they are operating well, but do most certainly miss when there is not one (or the one who is MC is not operating well). When there is a good MC all those gathered for the occasion can relax and know that they will be directed to be in the appropriate place and do the appropriate thing at the appropriate time..

So at a wedding make sure someone is chosen who can do this job well. It may be the Best Man, it may a member of staff at the function hall / room you are using, it may just be a friend or relative. Whatever and whoever, make sure you have one.

Which raises the question of what a good MC does:

  • A good voice or uses the microphone well.
  • Gives clear instructions.
  • Does not cause a great show.
  • Liaises with all relevant parties (ie bride and groom and members of function room management / staff). This means that everybody’s wishes are being considered.

And if you do not have a good MC, people tend not to know what is happening and when. People are not confident they will do the right thing in the right place at the right time. And this can all lead to embarrassment.

So makes sure you have a good MC.

Stag Nights / Hen Nights

Further to my ongoing musings that we have to be more radical in our thinking about weddings. What about hen nights and stag nights? Where do these fit in with a godly approach to weddings? In fact should they be there at all?

The image of these events is of having a last big blow-out before you are spliced into the marriage bond. And consequently, they are associated with indulgence and inebriation. Now of course the Christian versions are not characterized by such excess. But should we have them at all? And if we do have them, what should we do? Are they just cleaned-up versions of the world? My observation is that there is a feeling that we have to include tawdry activities which imitate the world’s way because if we don’t then we have not had a proper hen/stag night. But does that not all seem so pointless?

I am not sure what the answer is, but at least think about whether you should have them . They are not mandatory after all. And this having day-trips and weekends away which seem to have become so popular, seem such a waste of time and money.

Possibly best not to have them at all. And if you do have them perhaps it would be good to at least give time to praying for the bride and groom.

Toasts at Weddings

One of my great concerns about the weddings of christian believers is that they are not radical enough. Ok, there are not the excesses of the world. But very often, I wonder if they are only cleaned-up versions of the world.

One particular way in which I feel we can show a glorious positive Christian distinctive is in respect of “toasting”. The toasting phenomenon is, no doubt, just a historically derived contrivance whereby we wish good things for the couple and whoever else we raise our glasses to. But surely as Christians who believe in the living Lord God we have something better that we can do. We can….. pray!

So if you are getting married or involved in arranging a wedding why not think outside the box and be radical? And why not ditch toasts altogether and get someone to pray for the couple for God’s blessing upon them and upon all involved in the wedding in whatever capacity. Surely this would be pleasing to the Lord.

Wedding Presents Lists

Looking back at our own wedding all those eighteen or so years ago one thing I regret is having a “Presents List”. Recently, we got a wedding invitation which simply mentions about giving money and any present if you wish, I found I helpful, without being unseemly.

Two reasons for not having a presents list would be:

  • It was so demanding – even stressful – seeking to make sure all saw it who wanted. This is now mitigated against to a large extent by the advent of appropriate use of the internet. However, you do still have to make sure everything is set up properly.
  • There is an underlying impudence  about them. Is it really right to be asking for things? I know it has benefits, in that people know what to get and so that things are not duplicated. But there is a little uneasiness in my heart about the whole principle.

Of recent times people have also moved toward having lists linked into certain stores and you go and get something at that store. This again no doubt can assist in getting presents, but so often everything just seems so prescribed. What I mean is “this is what we want; so please get it.”

So my thought is for anyone getting married. Do not have any presents lists. You will save yourself hassle. People can choose to bless you with money or a present. And get on with life.

And by the way the Chinese system of simply giving gold or money has a lot to recommend it.

The Photographer

Yesterday I mentioned about weddings which leads me on to what weddings are all about. The photographer of course. Why do we have weddings? So that the photographer can have his/her “day in the sun”.

What happens is that bride and groom and sundry accomplices are herded here and there for the photographers indulgence. And all the while guests are getting rumbling tummies and longing just to sit down and have some food. Moreover, bride and groom are cut-off from their nearest and dearest with whom they are supposed to be sharing their special day.

If you are getting married or involved in wedding preparations can I suggest a re-think. In this day of digital photo technology when so many photos are taken at weddings is there really any need for employing the photographer? Instead why not set two or three  wedding guests to go around clicking some shots. You will then have plenty of photo remembrances to put in your album. And then you will be free to enjoy the day with your friends and relatives. And in ditching the photographer you will be saving yourself lots of money as well. And you will have happier guests

It seems like a win-win outcome to me.

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