Of dancing and wedding processions
Dancing and weddings go together like peanut butter & jelly, right? Sure. But weddings belong in churches and dancing belongs at receptions, unless you’re getting married at St. Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco. It might seem that the recent YouTube sensation (“Kevin and Jill’s wedding dance procession“) would overturn my view, with its unrestrained joy and sheer exuberance, right? Wrong.
To the contrary, it reinforces a problem that exists in our culture: weddings become the apotheosis of American consumerism and individualism run amok, just when we should be turning to God for God’s sacramental blessing. I ran across a blog posting that gets it just right:
For my own wedding, I no more want to write my own vows than I would want the president to write his own oath of office. To do so saps the words of meaning, of that sublime feeling you get saying something you never thought you’d say to that person you most want to say it to. Vows are meant not to be a reflection of a couple’s individual love, but an intonation of a promise made countless times before. That is their power.
And so, though I am a writer and half-Jewish, I will be saying traditional vows in an Episcopal church, the very same in which my fiancée’s parents were married. We don’t buy into the idea of the wedding day as the truest expression of our love. It’s more of a rite of passage, and we don’t think rites work when you whip them up on your own, or buy them off the YouTube rack.
Amen. While I smiled when I viewed this video for the first time (only a profoundly joyless person would fail to take some pleasure in seeing such happy people), we won’t be having any wedding dance processions at Christ Church. Does this mean I’m mean? I don’t think so. I think it means that I view our vocation in the church as providing some measure of God’s transcendant power in a world that’s crying out for meaning — meaning that is not derived from who we are, but from who God is. To make the wedding about us, rather than about God is to miss something real and profound.
While you’re on the subject, I do encourage you to watch Kevin and Jill’s divorce dance video too. Don’t worry, as far as I know they’re still madly in love (as I hope they wlll be for decades to come), but they decided to have a bit more fun with their newly found fame. Good for them.