The Revd. Writes…

The Revd. Writes…

Amongst other activities, the month of September will see a flurry of weddings taking place in churches across the Dever Valley.

It is always a huge privilege for any priest to officiate at a Service of Holy Matrimony. For two people to bring their relationship into a sacred place and humbly commit themselves, before God, to each other, is not just a celebration of their love for each other but is equally to acknowledge the spiritual journey that they intend to make together into what the Christian tradition calls a deeper ‘communion’. This ‘communion’ involves a certain merging of personhood in which two become one - not just in terms of decisions being made about difficult life situations, new house, children, schools etc. but a certain integration that is life-giving in terms of meaning. ‘I am more able to become myself when I am with you and you flourish more fully because of the intimacy we share.’ This ‘communion’, which is publicly sanctioned through the rite of Holy Matrimony, is expressed in ritual that goes beyond words. ‘I cannot fully put into words how I feel about you. I have no words with which to express my love for you.’ Ritual and symbolism help to express the richness of understanding on such occasions in a way that words can only fail. The bride enters the church, and everyone immediately stands. There is a knowingness that though nothing has been spoken, a relationship has been brought into the building. Rings are exchanged as symbols of ongoing commitment. A ring has no beginning and no ending, no alpha and no omega, only eternity, forever and forever.

The church building itself emphasises this ‘communion’. It is where lived community brings its own stories, happy and sad, joyful and tragic, and places them before the altar, baptism and funeral – not just wedding. Here in this sacred place, his story and her story are set in the context of history. Our churches are valuable repositories of communal memory – often enabling remembering to be rekindled when both he and she have long lost the ability to do so of their own accord. Churches stand as memorials, singing the song of past generations. This ‘singing’ enables important anniversaries to be lived in the present, contributing to a new bonding of relationships in the today - a valuable legacy from those who have gone before. Consider the centenary events for WWI.

At the heart of our communities stand our Parish Churches. They are much loved. And like the newly married couple, it is quite difficult to put that love into words…

God Bless                                                                                                                      Revd. Mark Bailey

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