Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wedding sermon c(b)lues

A wedding sermon has changed over the years in church. Earlier it would be a very small exhortation in church and the couple would not be directly spoken to at the time. This changed to a small sermon about how we can examine marriage as a Holy sacrament of the church. Today we have a different model being practiced in the church, depending upon the bishops and priests conducting the wedding and the importance given to the sermon as a guideline for marriage not only for the couple getting married but to others who have assembled in church, many already married.

This particular wedding sermon was preached at the St. Mark's Cathedral in Bangalore. In many weddings bishops and priests don't necessarily personally know the couple getting married and so it is difficult to preach to them on a personal level. This can be fixed if the preacher meets the couple and spends some time with them, getting to know them and making them comfortable. This brings about a relationship and a breaking of ice which will reflect in the marriage service and sermon in church.

The wedding sermon should be simple for the couple and people present to understand and at the same time should reflect the theology of the church. It is a difficult task of balancing faith and actual communication of the sermon. A sermon many a time is not about big words but about simple and digestible words and known concepts put in the correct place at the correct time. For this the preacher can make use of known examples from family life, church life, humor, stories and talk directly to the couple.

Weddings in India usually are conducted in a way that very less importance is given to the couple and instead everyone else gets a chance to wear a beautiful dress, eat good food and take pictures. In the case of a wedding sermon, it is the only time that a bishop or priest can talk face to face with the couple and remind them of what a marriage is all about. Direct eye contact with the couple is desirable, looking in between at the family and others present so that they also feel part of the sermon.

The sermon can't be too long and neither can it be too short. A fifteen to a maximum twenty minute sermon is the most one should try. In the process one should watch the face of the couple and the audience to make sure that they are completely listening to the sermon and understand what is being said.

Finally, give two or three points for the wedding couple and the congregation to take away. The points should be short, easy to remember and identifiable. The points for the wedding in this link were marriage is a Eucharist, marriage is priceless and marriage is high definition. Even if the couple remember one instead of three it is enough. The objective for weddings in the church now is that the sermon should try and set the tone of the wedding. It should speak to, for and about the couple. The prayers are usually not remembered by those present unless it is said slowly and meaningfully. This is where the wedding sermon becomes a take away for the couple, their family and the participants.

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