The Voice of Zion February 2024 - Editorial --
What is sacred? Sacred refers to something – a place, an object, an event or text – that is set apart from the everyday, the common and secular. We approach and we treat sacred things with reverence and respect. In our belief system, they are of highest importance.
What separates sacred things from the everyday? We believe things are made sacred by God and His Word. Things that God instituted, places to where God is summoned – these are sacred to us. In the sacred, we sense God’s presence, even when we can’t express with words what makes it sacred or holy.
In our worship life, we occasionally are witness to or partakers in sacred acts. These are religious ceremonies that hold particular divine significance.
One sacred act in our church’s Manual of Sacred Acts is marriage. Whether or not the wedding happens at a church, whatever number of guests are present in addition to the wedding couple, their witnesses and the minister, we always see this act as something instituted by God. Holiness is present there in the spoken Word of God, in prayers, readings and the recitation of vows, and through music and song.
At a wedding, we witness the joining of two believers in holy matrimony. Matrimony means a commitment to one another, accompanied by a vow. In matrimony, a new family unit is formed, a new home congregation. All gathered ask God to bless this new family and new home congregation, its comings and goings, so it would adhere to the larger community of believers, which is God’s kingdom. We ask that this new family stay rooted in the communion of saints.
What makes a wedding unique among other worship gatherings of God’s children is that it is planned by individuals and families. Even teenagers, very young believing adults, may be part of this planning effort. It is quite special that an individual family or an individual couple plans a church service.
A wedding is often seen as a family or individual event, a place of personal expression. The couple and their families may want to express their personal tastes and heritage. Above all, we wish to express personal faith.
How, then, do the believing wedding planners proceed? How should the event express its participants’ personal faith? This is realized when the attitude of the planners is that they are serving God’s kingdom and wish to please God in doing so.
During the planning, we can ask for God’s blessings. We can visit with near ones and ministers and ask for advice. We take steps to ensure that bride and groom are given information and time to thoughtfully express wishes for the wedding.
In a wedding, we serve God by coming to the sacred space where His children gather, participating in prayer, song and supplication. We bow our heads in acknowledgment that we need these elements in our lives to support and nourish us on our journey. At a wedding service, we above all are served by God, our rich Father in heaven. He provides the gifts of the Spirit that sustain us, who in ourselves are poor in spirit. From this, we learn to serve others with the gifts that God provides. The wedding couple also learns to serve one another and their near ones, constructing a model of how they will lead their lives in their home congregation.
We can approach the task of planning a wedding service – and other services where God’s children gather – as we find ourselves, poor in spirit. We can allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to decisions that please God and thereby please us and our loved ones. Appropriate humility allows room to learn what God’s will is and what pleases Him. A humble spirit is a listening spirit.
With joy, we can enter God’s portals as His free children and open our hearts to serve and be served.