Monday, July 10, 2006

Wedding Communion

Is a wedding service a good time to celebrate holy communion? Is a wedding ceremony a worship service? Is communion a fitting action in the wedding ceremony? And, more to the point, is communion for just the bride and groom and not for the rest of the congregation, an appropriate reflection on the meaning of the Lord's Supper?
When brides and grooms celebrate holy commmunion to the exclusion of everyone else, is this not a private mass? Should not communion in an evangelical context be an open invitation to all who know Jesus to share in the meal? Some say a wedding ceremony is not a worship service, but a ceremony of two people with witnesses. I'm not sure. I have a difficult time 'fencing" the table from other believers. But not all who attend a wedding ceremony are beleivers, but, rather, friends of the bride and groom.
What are your thoughts?


At 12:29 PM , Anonymous kent said...

Not being know as one who loves weddings, give me a good funeral every time, I do believe they can be worship services. Obviously not all weddings are, but some, many can be worshipful.

Having said this, I also believe it is not private worship for just the couple alone, it is for all who attend. In my church Sunday there may be people who attend but have no relationship with Jesus, that does not prevent our experience from being worship. Since wedding are not private worship, I do not believe there can be private communion. I would rather communion not be included, but if it is, it is to be offered to all.

At 10:27 PM , Blogger Dan said...

My, my, Kent... I'd love to here more about your aversion to weddings!?

I've officiated at one wedding that was shapped to be a worship service with holy communion as part of the service. My only requirment was that all be invited to the table.

The Covenant Book of Worship Wedding Rite 1 is a worship service. Rite 2 is more of a simple straight forward marriage ceremony.

The public-ness of the ceremony is what is critical and I tend to see the whole wedding event as including the build up to the marriage ceremony and continuing into the reception as all the wedding event. To some degree, if the couple are disciples of the Lord Jesus, then the "table fellowship" at the reception could indeed have an echo of holy communion.

I go for the 20 to 30 minute marriage ceremony myself with the wedding event incorperating all described above.

At 5:24 AM , Anonymous Kent said...

Dan, My primary frustration with weddings over the years has come from repeated experiences where the service, worship or otherwise was the prelude to the "real event"- the reception. I don't mind the hire gun role because even there you can do ministry, but when your purpose is to pray so the bar can open, well I'd rather not.

With the costs of wedding escalating to a level that you can spend on a college degree the role of the wedding has become a showcase for many. With a funeral all of that is stripped away and you deal only with issues of faith and life. I understand you can and should find those issues in a wedding but you have to mine through all of the distractions.

I have been casually polling pastor over the years and the vast majority perfer funerals. Go figure.

At 7:45 PM , Blogger Rick said...

Hey Don, great stuff...thought-provoking, as are the comments above.

My reply was lengthy enough to place on my own blog. Read it there...



At 10:27 AM , Blogger Andrew Stonina said...

Here are my comments:

I, like some of the others have said, believe that a wedding service is a worship service and it should be treated and planned as such. I remember the illustration you used about the way the cincture is a demonstration of God becoming and intermingling with the man and woman. I think any time that we invoke God's presence to be among us is a time of worship.

As far as celebrating communion, that is tricky. I had a professor in seminary who said that communion should be a part of the wedding service, that is one way to make it a worship service and not merely an act to fulfill a civil law. Moreover he said that all should participate in communion it is not merely an act to be celebrated alone and I agree with this. Although, I think that it is up to the bride and groom as to whether or not communion is to be served and if it is to be served then I think we as pastors have the duty to ask about the make-up of the congregation and to say whether or not it will be served. I think that fencing the table is important and those of other denominations will know whether or not it is appropriate, for them to take communion. As, for those who are not Christians, a wedding is a good time to share the gospel, so that should be done and they should know by the "invitation" to the table whether or not they fit that description (1 Corinthians 11:28) and if they do not they should refrain and if they don't then they are guilty of the sin that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 11:27. These are some good things to think about!

At 10:22 PM , Blogger Dan said...

Don't know if you will ever check back and I'm sorry I didn't check back before now.

As I stated already, the "wedding" event includes the events leading up to the ceremony and the reception following so I don't see the ceremony as the entire wedding and simply a prelude to the main event.

I tend to serve smaller churches with families and couples who don't spend enough money on the wedding to pay for an education so I haven't had to deal with that issue.

I also see the reception as a significant part of the wedding so that too eliminates the feeling of being the officiant of the prelude.

Finally, the wedding is meant to be a civil and public event which is the definition of civilization and I would direct you to such theologians as Robert W. Jensen who helps address the theology of civility and it's critical-ness for us all.

It is essential for the church to resist any movement toward privatization of such civil issues as marriage.

But, the original post had to do with communion in the wedding and generally I don't go that way since, even though the wedding ceremony can be a Christian event, it is not primarily a worship service of the Church.

At 9:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 1:20 PM , Blogger Brad Boydston said...

In short, whenever we celebrate the sacraments we are celebrating the presence of Christ. And the sacraments are offered to all his followers. It is inappropriate and theologically inconsistent to serve the gifts to only a few. It is all or none.

At 10:31 PM , Anonymous Isaac said...

Brad summed up my thoughts exactly.

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At 12:52 AM , Anonymous Rev. Georg said...


It is essential for the church to resist any movement toward privatization of such civil issues as marriage.

* I fully do agree with that !

Interesting issues indeed, need to think about it as well.

God bless,
Rev. Dr. Georg O.P. Eschert


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