Wednesday, October 17, 2012

an autumn evening wedding rehearsal

Last night I walked in the drizzling gloom up the steep, leaf-strewn drive of one of the four churches in my parish. I was on the way to a wedding rehearsal. The happy couple are based in the US and all the preparations had been done by distance, using the phone and email. It struck me that this would the first time that I would meet the bride and groom face to face.

As the wedding party gathered, I realised that I knew few of them also. The bride was a daughter of the parish, so I was familiar with her parents and siblings. But the rest were either friends and relatives of the bride who had traveled for the occasion, or family and friends of the groom who had flown in from the States.

Watching the two sides greet each other before we got started it was clear that I wasn't the only one meeting a large number of people for the first time. I wondered what I might do to address the 'familiarity gap.' I knew enough about the group from my prior communications with the couple to know that all their friends and relatives were Church going people who took the practice of their faith seriously. I decided to build on that. I gathered up an arm-full of prayer books and started handing them out. 

'We don't really know each other very well,' I said. 'It would be nice if we could do something about that before we begin. And one of the best ways I can think of to help a group of people to get to know each other a little better is to pray together.' 

As they thumbed their way to the page for the Late Evening Office the intimacy of prayerful silence fell over those gathered. Quietly & meditatively we read the short service together. The Office allows for a reading & a short reflection. As this was part of a wedding rehearsal, I chose to read Genesis 2.18-24. But I decided there was no need for a reflection. As I told them, sometimes it is best let scripture speak for itself. They nodded and smiled. 

I don't know if they felt they knew each other better when we had finished the service. But it seemed to me that they did.   

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