Over the past few months, I have heard and read more times than I can remember the sentiment of my clergy colleagues who “would rather do ten funerals than a wedding.”* With two in a row the next two Saturdays, the phrase has been haunting me, and I have decided, emphatically, to disagree.
A few years ago, before I was ordained, I assisted at a funeral followed by a wedding for one family in one week. It was hard, on everyone. The wedding I am taking tomorrow could too easily have gone the same way, and I am more delighted than I can say to be welcoming this family to this wedding, and not to that funeral.
Of course, it’s not that I don’t get my friends’ frustrations, nor do I for a moment believe that they would rather see their people mourn than dance. Still, I am sorry that we seem to be all too willing to rob ourselves of joy when it is handed to us on a piece of wedding cake.
So this afternoon, on my Friday day off, when I head into work to run this wedding rehearsal, I will be ready to smile at foibles, shake my head knowingly at freak-outs, and laugh at the ridiculous and marvellous, gospelly naivety of people who promise one another a lifetime of love and fidelity when none of us knows even what tomorrow will bring. Then, tomorrow, I will place them in the hands of God to bless them (see what I did there?), and return home to my own spouse to wonder what on earth we thought we were doing half a lifetime ago when we made the same promises, with the same ridiculous hope and joy.
And maybe we will dance.
* If you have said this in my presence recently, please don’t be offended. This is not about you, personally – honestly, I have heard it so many times I’m not sure I know anyone who hasn’t said it. And I love you, and wish you stupid, naive, ridiculous joy.