I've received a remarkable number of e mails and comments from clergy observing that the liturgy (service) used at the Royal Wedding was a real mixture of traditional and modern language and epressed a veritable smorgasbord of theological ideas about marriage drawn from almost all the liturgies the Church of England has ever used. It's interesting that a similar approach was adopted to that of so many of the couples we marry who have what I call a 'pick and mix' attitude to all the available liturgies. This sometimes does interesting things to the theological coherence of a service. It certainly makes for some lively conversations about just what people do believe and hope for in their married life. How exactly do you explain the difference between plight (the husband's promise) and give (the woman's promise) in relation to a troth? And did I hear right - the groom gave his troth? (Answers on a post card...)
For those of us who worry (a little) about sticking to rules and about oaths we have taken to use only the set liturgies canon law appears to allow, perhaps we might feel encouraged by the example of the Archbishop and Dean to relax a bit and work with couples to be more creative. This is where real skill comes in - helping them think through what the words and symbols communicate.
I thought the prayer the couple composed for the occasion was moving and I hope their example will encourage more couples to try and encapsulate something of what they feel about their marriage in a united and unique way during the ceremony. I also thought the scripture reading chosen was much more appropriate than so many of the more popular options and it was engagingly read by James Middleton who appeared to have almost memorized it (or has Westminster Abbey gone over to auto cue?)
We had a smashing Royal Wedding day in Devon where we were indulging in an after Easter break and meeting up with a cousin and her fiance whom I shall be marrying in June. So wedding festivity was very much in the air and we enjoyed watching the service in the village pub and picnicing on the village green afterwards. Later, we listened to an excellent local jazz band The Panama Kings while gazing out to sea in the general direction of the Scilly Isles which was rumoured to be a possible desination for the happy couple. (We didn't spot any helicopters!) Is this why Royal Weddings never cease to enthrall most of the country - because a royal wedding is both totally different from and just the same as everbody else's wedding? It combines aspiration and affirmation - a winning duet!
Ah well, back to work this week - but looking forward to June!