Thursday, February 14, 2013

Renewing Wedding Vows in Church Services: A Valentine's Day Meditation

Here's one of those strange feast days, a feast day that's more popular in the general culture than it is in the church culture that pays attention to saints and their days.  For those of you in search of a meditation with photos, you might enjoy this post from last year.

Those of us in religious circles might spend some time thinking about this feast day and the ways we celebrate it, both within our religious cultures and in popular culture.  I've often thought that marriage at its best is sacramental:  it demonstrates to me in a way that few other things can how deeply God loves me.  If my spouse's love for me is but a pale shadow of the way God loves me, then I am rich in love indeed.

I use the word marriage cautiously.  I don't mean it the way that some Christians do.  I mean simply a love relationship between adults that is covenantal and permanent in nature.

Our church offers couples a chance to renew their wedding vows during the Sunday service before Valentine's Day each year.  I've written about my queasiness about renewal of wedding vows in this post.

This year was different.  Perhaps it was because I was closer to the front, where I could see the expressions on the faces.  I could see that the couples were profoundly moved by repeating their vows.  I was moved too.

I still worry about how this service might make people feel excluded.  I worry that as with baptism, we don't support people in their covenantal relationships in all the ways that we could.

To me, this feast day is essentially a manufactured holiday, yet another one, designed to make us feel like we must spend gobs and gobs of money to demonstrate our love.

Every day, ideally, should be Valentine's Day, a day in which we try to remind our loved ones how much we care--and not by buying flowers, dinners out, candy, and jewelry.  We show that we love by our actions:  our care, our putting our own needs in the backseat, our concern, our gentle touch, our loving remarks.

And sustained by the love that sustains in our homes, we can go out to be a light that shines evidence of God's love to the dark corners of the world.

On this Valentine's Day, let us go out into the world, living sacraments, to be Valentines to one another, to show a weary world the wonders of God's love.

No comments: