No, I did not watch more than a few snippets of the ceremonies on the web… but, no doubt, it was quite the grand and fabulous event! I won’t argue with the Bishop of London when he said that is was a joyous day to celebrate. I can think of a whole lot worse things to celebrate!
Anyway, since I am burdened with the obtuse vocation of being a pastor I find that I could not help myself from tearing things apart and examining every little jot and tittle in the liturgy and the wedding sermon this morning, trying to determine the meaning behind it all… Of course this is what makes me so loathsome to my children and wife (and perhaps you as well!) After watching a movie with my family I am always caught muttering all kinds of nonsense attempting to deconstruct the meaning of the dialogue and extrapolate the movie’s impact on culture, the church and our faith. “Just ENJOY the movie, for heaven’s sake” they yell at me.
So, I did find the text for the sermon this morning and here are a couple comments. And yes, after reading it through I am further confirmed to be 1) a glad conservative Lutheran, and 2) praying every day for the coming of the Lord and Judgment Day, that He would save us from ourselves!
Firstly: I must say that there was the beautiful reading from Romans 12: 1-2, 9-18 (although, it also must be said that it is a rather “safe” reading with no mention of Jesus Christ.) Unfortunately, in his sermon, the Bishop quotes St. Catherine of Siena and Chaucer, but not once does he speak of a scripture verse – or even reference one.
Now let’s get down to the text of the sermon itself. (Although without a mention of scripture, it could hardly be called a sermon.)
One sentence near the beginning is quite glorious if understood correctly:
In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.
I do love that imagery!
Now with the token complement out of the way, lets get on with it! A few sentences down there is this quote which gives the first reference to Jesus Christ:
William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that he gave himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. And in the Spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each another.
So is that all? It was only a week ago we observed His death and five days ago we celebrated His resurrection and the defeat of sin, death and the devil, and the opening up the gates of heaven for all believers! And this general reference to God giving himself “to us” in Jesus Christ is all the world gets of the “Gospel”? And then you just don’t know quite WHAT to make of the words “Spirit of this generous God…” It sounds like “Spirit” is used as in the phrase “spirit of Christmas”. But then why is it capitalized like a proper name? This presiding Bishop of the worldwide Anglican church is speaking language that is very foreign to the Bible and to the orthodox church!
Bishop of London continues:
A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed.
Wow!!!! That is very official sounding and mysterious… I can’t say it is “wrong”, per se. But… it sure leaves me rather…. speechless!!!!
A further quote a bit down starts to sound like it was delivered by some kind of president or prime minister, not pastor:
We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely a power that has been given to us through the discoveries of the last century.
We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.
You get toward the end and you are saying “yes, yes, yes!” An increase in loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another… and then!!!!…… you could SWEAR that somehow the printer must have run out of ink! There HAS TO BE mention of the increase in love for GOD!!!! But no!!! Heaven help us!
The Bishop of London concludes in this way:
And I pray that God will bless you in the way of life that you have chosen, that way which is expressed in the prayer that you have composed together in preparation for this day: God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage. In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy. Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.
You just can’t help but ask: What is this “Spirit of Jesus”? How come the prayer was not concluded with “in the name of Jesus”, as is scriptural? Is the real answer that there just is no honoring of the truth of Jesus’ name anymore? No honoring it even in the cathedral at the wedding of the individual who might one day inherit the throne and be the titular head of the Anglican Church? In the end the “Spirit of Jesus” is not in reference to the Son of God or the Holy Spirit, but actually simply just a concept and/or understanding of the life of Jesus. How sad indeed!
But, hey! Good News! In the next few moments after the sermon, the Archbishop seals the wedding with the pronouncement in a very official tone “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost!” So, do they finally get it right? Or are His words all just a tradition with actually no meaning at all? Is it spoken in Biblical truth and Godly integrity? Or are two billion people around the world witness to blasphemy of a very high order?