For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.Ecclesiastes 3:1
I have been thinking a lot about weddings and funerals lately, for obvious reasons. I just completed a season of being involved in significant weddings and funerals. Last week I presided at my daughter’s wedding, which was wonderful! But this beautiful wedding took place not long after two significant funerals in my life – my father’s, and my mother-in-law’s. Weddings and funerals like these are not easy – planning them takes work, and participating in them is emotionally draining. Even though a wedding is a wonderful celebration, it can still be a stressful day for those involved. And funerals are obviously difficult days, for very different reasons.
And all of this raises an obvious question: why have them? Why have weddings and funerals? More and more people these days are choosing not to. So I have been pondering why I think they are still important to have, and I thought I would share a few reasons why this is the case, why we shouldn’t do away with the practice of having weddings and funerals.
First of all, weddings and funerals are important because they mark significant beginnings and endings in our lives. These are rituals that serve to remind us that life will now be different, in profound and meaningful ways. They are “before/after” events, beginning new chapters in our lives. A funeral can bring closure after a time of loss, even as it begins a new season of learning to live without our loved one. A wedding also completes a season of our life, doesn’t it? We are no longer who we were. We are now given new identities, new titles, sometimes even new names. Weddings, like funerals, are rituals that remind us that we are now entering a new chapter in our lives. We are now different people.
And because of the significance of these times in our life, both weddings and funerals bring the community together. They remind us, during this important time, that we are not alone. Humans are meant to live in community, and communities come together for significant milestones. One of the purposes of a wedding is to surround the couple getting married with love and prayers, and to make a promise to support them in their life together. Marriage is a wonderful gift from God, but it can be challenging. A wedding is a time for all of us to come together to support the couple making their promises as they begin this new chapter in their lives. So, too, for funerals. As a community, we gather together to surround those who are grieving with our love and prayers, and to assure them that they are not to go through this alone.
But weddings and funerals do more than this – most importantly, they serve to remind us not only of the community that will be there to support us, but of God’s promise to be with us. For Christians, both weddings and funerals are worship services. They are times set apart for us to worship God together, to ask for God’s blessing, and to invoke God’s presence. At both weddings and funerals, we gather as a community, in the presence of God, to be reminded of God’s promise to be with us always, and to give thanks for this promise. May all of our weddings and funerals proclaim this wondrous gift.