First Third Conversations

Weddings: Community, Faith, and Pastoral Ministry

Wedding Ceremony 9.18.10A blog post by Adam Butler

I love weddings. I’m partial to my own, but they can’t all be perfect, right? Weddings are awesome, though. You get to watch two people commit to life with one another in the midst of a group of people who love and care about those two lovebirds.

All in one spot, there are little kids running circles around grandpas and grandmas. You’ve got young couples, families, and folks who’ve been at this marriage game a while. Not to be forgotten are those who are not and have never been married, those whose marriages have ended in divorce, and those mourning the loss of the one they love. This is just the beginning of the uniqueness of this kind of gathering.

I spent a recent weekend among many good friends, celebrating the marriage of a college roommate and officiating the wedding of two dear friends. There was lots of driving and busyness but even more joy and love. Conversation and fellowship, tears and laughter, dancing, and what some would call dancing, were plentiful.

A few of the highlights I’d like to share to illustrate the kinds of experiences that can be had in wedding fellowship:

  • A college roommate telling me how proud he is of what I’ve accomplished in following my calling to become a pastor and how glad he is to be friends. I echoed the same sentiments about his journey to become a dentist.
  • Seeing the certainty in the eyes of the bride and groom as I repeated the words from 1 John, “We love because He first loved us.”
  • Hearing from friends about a wedding they attended where a music centered worship experience replaced the dance at the reception. Our friends were moved by the words of the pastor, “Many people bring God to the ceremony, even fewer bring God to the reception, and even fewer bring God to the marriage.”
  • A conversation I had with a young man that I met at the wedding I officiated. He’s been in the military for almost 15 years and done many tours all over the world. What he does takes him to the front lines and into extremely dangerous places. Many of the places he goes are places where Christianity is hated most. He told me about evacuations where he had to convince Christians to come with him, that it wasn’t their fate to be killed by enemies who were just hours behind these soldiers. I was brought to tears when he then recounted the story of a Christian woman who thanked him and said, “I prayed for you and you came.”

I love weddings because you get to see the best of what the church is all about: faith being lived out in love and commitment, and that faith being affirmed and supported by a community of people who are committed to the life of those joining together in marriage. There are those who have seen you at your college, fratboy worst praising the man you’ve become. Weddings are a place where different people can come together and have meaningful interaction, like people who were moved by the faithfulness of a nontraditional wedding reception and a religiously uncertain soldier who has seen with his own eyes the terror caused by religion.

As I transition into the life of a pastor, I consider myself blessed to be a part of a church like the church I experienced that weekend. I am filled with hope for the future of a church that takes us as we are, gathers us together, and builds us up on the foundation of love that God spoke to those newlyweds in front of their family and friends:

“And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has in us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in them. By this love is perfected withus, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because just as Jesus is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love. We love because he loved us first.” (1 John 4:16-19)

Author Bio:
Adam ButlerAdam Butler is a recent graduate of the M.Div. program, with an emphasis in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry, at Luther Seminary. Throughout college and prior to beginning seminary, he worked in multiple youth and outdoor ministry settings. He is an avid sports fan, enthusiastic pontooner, a craft beer homebrewer/consumer, and patron of the arts.

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