By on January 20, 2021.
Of Preaching at A Score of Weddings and Three Score and Ten Funerals
Recently this blog turned fifteen. It has been far from viral but I’ve enjoyed writing it and it has been interesting to watch and wonder at the number of visits over the years. Sometimes they are thinly and evenly spread from around the world as things putter along. And then there has been the occasional burst of interest from Russia, of all places, to the tune of hundreds of views for a few days. Perhaps our brief (and most enjoyable) visit to St Petersburg in 2015 excited the fevered imagination of some algorithm or other, or one of their hack-factories is assessing my Anglican scribblings as a potential vehicle for cyber mischief. But I digress. The most traffic has been not so much to do with the potential for espionage as it has been funeral and wedding sermons related—of which there are around 70 and 20 or so posted on GENEralities respectively. I don’t know whether anyone has gleaned any useful ideas from them or found them helpful, but they get the most clicks. The two most visited are a funeral sermon delivered on Holy Saturday in 2012—22, 600 visits—and a sermon for a wedding in July of the same year—21, 100 visits. You can read them here and here. Why these two in particular? I have no idea. To let you in on a little secret, the thing about my funeral and wedding sermons, especially the funeral ones, is that they’re pretty much all the same. Perhaps people have noticed and are too polite to say anything. If ever I was asked to suggest readings for a funeral, as happened frequently, I always suggested Ecclesiastes 3 (There’s a Time for Everything) and John 14 (In My Father’s House Are Many Rooms). Then I would try to weave the story of the person who had died and the people who were remembering him or her into the Biblical story and draw their attention to Jesus and what he can do for them. So my funeral sermons were variations on that same theme. Over and over again. Weddings tended be variations on the 1 Corinthians 13—The Love Chapter—theme. Which is not about weddings as much as it is about how to do the charismatic gifts and church. But it can be spun into loving one another and a discussion about the difference between the love the couple have fallen into and the agapé-1-Corinthians-13-Jesus-kind-of-love they will have to rise into if their marriage is to grow and last. The truth is that most of the people who are there are not really thinking about Jesus or the things of God. They’re grieving and thinking about the loved one or friend who has died or they’re wishing the nuptial couple well and looking forward to the fun of the reception party to follow. But still, such occasions are good opportunities to address real life and death—from “until death do us part” to when it has. And the most important, the best, the abundant life giving thing that everyone needs to hear and be reminded of is that a marriage, even a really good one, without Jesus will end eventually. So will a life without him. Lives and marriages with Jesus as an active participant, on the other hand, never end. They just go from glory to glory for ever and ever. Amen. Alleluia!