Weddings, Worship & Walking with God

St. Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

I’m sure that, like Jane and myself, many of you were fully occupied watching the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (now the Duke & Duchess of Sussex) on 19th May.

I’m sure, too, that as I write these words, many parish magazine letters will be being penned by Incumbents the length and breadth of the country and, no doubt, a great number of them will be commenting on the address by Bishop Michael Curry.

For my own part ‘the jury is still out’ on his particular and very individual style of delivery – but of one thing I’m certain: it was far too long!!

The words of the Marriage Service in the Church of England are superb: they speak for themselves. The order of the service at St. George’s Chapel last Saturday was exactly what you would hear if you were to attend a wedding at St. Michael’s in Alnwick – or indeed in any English parish church if the Incumbent is doing his or her job properly!

Frankly, very little else needs to be said. Of course, each couple are involved in choosing the readings that are used at their own wedding and it is a great privilege for whoever is officiating at a wedding to take the readings and weave them into a short reflection which is as individual to the couple as possible. Far more important, however, is the opportunity to let the words of the service itself be said with meaning, feeling and sincerity.

Over the past two years the number of weddings at St. Michael’s has increased quite markedly – and for this we give thanks to God. It is a great privilege to work with couples as they approach their ‘big day’ and to spend time reflecting on the depth and symbolism of the words (and actions) so that their significance for bride and groom are fully appreciated.

And what is true of weddings is true also of other acts of worship in church. The Church of England holds word and sacrament in balance. It places equal importance on what is ‘done’ as much as what is said.

This is particularly true as we meet, Sunday by Sunday to do what Jesus commanded us to do. And so, as, once again, we enter ‘Ordinary Time’ my plea to you is to look afresh at the words which the Church has given to us and the actions which accompany them. Consider the true beauty and the depth of meaning (and the vast significance for our lives and our eternal salvation) each time we say or sing ‘Glory to God in the highest’, ‘Peace be with you’ or ‘Lamb of God, you take away the sings of the world’.

Within the words of our worship lie the path to an ever-deepening relationship with God – and with one another. Just as marriages grow, strengthen and mature with the passing of the years as both parties attend to the wellbeing of the other, so too, our walk with God can blossom and flourish if we devote our worship and our praise to him who, at all times, is the giver of all good things.

With every blessing,

Paul.

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