I officiate a fair number of weddings. This Saturday will be my 3rd in the last 30 days. There is one thing that has always stuck out in my mind as I think about weddings--every wedding is unique and special for the couple getting married.
Not a very profound insight, you say? Perhaps. But the more weddings I officiate, the more important it is for me to remember this simple truth.
The first several weddings I took part in I was the one who gave the "charge to couple". I was scared out of my shorts. I wasn't a pastor yet. I wasn't preaching regularly. And I was afraid that I would ruin the couple's special day by sounding like an idiot. Sometimes I did sound like an idiot. Thankfully, the couple was too goo-goo-eyed to notice my mistakes. (Usually.)
But with time, I've gotten quite a bit more comfortable with performing weddings. And I think that's a good thing. Nobody wants to go to the wedding performed by the nervous, sweaty, fumbling, confused pastor. The comfort level I have is good, as long as I remember that every wedding is unique and special for the couple getting married.
About 15 years ago a good friend of ours got married. Aside from the horses they sat on during the ceremony, the one thing the one thing that stood out to me about that wedding was what the bride told my wife afterward. Angrily, she told my wife that she had heard the pastor give the exact same "charge to couple"/homily at her wedding that he had given at another wedding she'd been to recently. She was angry and hurt. She felt like her wedding was cheapened by the pastor's "cookie-cutter" approach.
And so going into the role of officiating weddings, I've had one important guiding practice. Leading up to every wedding I pray one simple prayer: "Lord, give me one simple word to give to this couple on their wedding day."
I pray for that word to be in some way prophetic. By that I mean that I pray the word I give them will be a touchstone in some way that rallies them back to the covenant and calling of their marriage vows.
Now I'll never promise that every wedding will get a unique word that I've never used at any other wedding I ever perform. But I do promise the couple that I'll ask God what He would have me say to this particular couple and I'll go wherever that word leads me in challenging them as they head into their future.
This practice gives me a fresh passion for every wedding. A sense that I have a role that is more important than merely perfunctorily leading a couple through some vows. I have the job of pointing the couple to a word from God that will help lead and guard them as they head into their life together. I think that is what a pastor is supposed to do.