Do you know that the 1941 edition of the worship book that the Lutheran Church used doesn’t have the marriage ceremony in it? It also doesn’t have an index or table of contents. I wonder if those two things are related.
My fiancee and I are in a weird spot with our upcoming wedding. We’re at the point where there isn’t a whole lot to do right now. I’m working on the website (which is slow going because there are some changes to the RSVP interface that I need to make). We ordered some postcards to stick in programs. We have 298 days or so till the big day so invitations don’t need to be ordered yet. And I pretty much figured out what I’m going to wear at the wedding (which I should make a post about). Oh. And we’ve started our pre-martial counseling with our church (I should make a post about that too). But, besides that, there isn’t much going on that needs our immediate attention. When you’re not too focused or worried about what type of bottle you need to serve some fancy ice tea, you don’t have a whole heck of a lot to do.
So, at church on Sunday, I flipped open one of the worship books in the pews. It was from 1941 which is 3 editions old at this point. I looked for a table of contents and there were none. I saw prayers and ceremonies for funerals, births, going on extended travels, etc. I didn’t see anything about getting married. I flipped open the 1978 edition and saw their wedding ceremony. It’s short and simple and leaves space for a few readings, some hymns, and even gives us the option to say our own vows (gross). Too bad I didn’t have a 2006 edition because I would have liked to see what the modern day ceremony was going to look like.
And as I looked at the books, I thought about the ceremony. My fiancee and I haven’t really chatted too much about it. My fiancee was thinking of asking her mom to pick some nice hymns to be sung at our wedding (to get her mom involved with the planning if she wants). That got me thinking. When you are getting married in a church that has a structured ceremony, your options for personalization is limited. Now, I personally think that is a GOOD thing theologically and culturally. Being married in a traditional ceremony carries with it the baggage that you are not only creating something new but also you are apart of something that spans history. And the vows to God, if taken seriously, are an added external reinforcement to what marriage is and should be. I like it. But when it comes to reading and hymns, the two parts of the ceremony that my fiancee and I have some options with, which ones should we pick?
So, now, every Sunday, I listen to what the choir director has chosen and see if it’s appropriate for my wedding day. Both my fiancee’s family and my family come from non-Lutheran religious traditions so I figured that we could sing A Mighty Fortress is Our God. You don’t get more Lutheran than that. But do I really want to sing so much about beating Satan on my wedding day? It’s a great tune and the theology behind it is fantastic but it’s my day, not Satan’s day. Why can’t the hymns be about me? :p
Yeah, I know, that’s a ridiculously bad attitude to have when you’re getting married in a church. I don’t believe like the Catholics that marriage is a sacrament but I do approach marriage with an attitude that matches that level of seriousness. Man is not to be alone as God is not alone in the Holy Trinity. So maybe I, or my fiancee, or her mom, can figure out some hymns focused less on defeating Satan and more on God’s relationship to us, Jesus’s love, and maybe His experience with Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Or maybe we’ll just break out in A Mighty Fortress because I know that would make all our Lutheran pals pretty happy. We’ll see.