Love brings two people together, much more
What we saw as the television camera occasionally focused on the Royals during Harry and Meghan’s wedding did not show much excitement. They looked bored. But then again, a homily is traditionally much shorter than a sermon.
The form of the service was standard, close to what you would find in any Protestant church in Canada. In the United Church, we might view the service as having a gathering section, the hearing of the word, the response (the wedding liturgy itself ), and the sending forth, which it did. No smells and bells, however, as some might say in the high Anglican tradition.
Music was a central part of the liturgy, including the more esoteric processional to the traditional recessional. The music helped to hear and know the word of God, although in a much more liberal way than many of the 16th-century reformers had in mind.
With the singing of two well-known and beloved hymns, the congregation had an opportunity to respond. This framed the service within the perspective that worship is the work of the people.
The unaccompanied Renaissance motet was a moment of mystery and awe. It added to the view that different styles and approaches to worship music, when tastefully chosen, appropriately located in the liturgy, and well-performed, can deepen the worship experience.
A more traditional aspect of the service, which occurs after the ceremony, was the wedding party signing the church wedding registry and legal documents. Although this took an inordinate amount of time, with several pieces of music planned, it did launch the career of an aspiring young cellist. That was a powerful moment to witness.
Waiting for the kiss on the stairs added to the increased public excitement, yet it also kept the sensual side outside of the church. However, that was compensated by the singing of the gospel choir, which was exquisite and stylized, yet equally impassioned. The back of the nave was the perfect spot, giving the appropriate room for movement, getting out of those confining pews.
It would be interesting to have a small group gather to watch the service, and to talk about it, stopping the recording when necessary to do so. I am sure that it would be revealing to go back and have a look at Charles and Diana’s wedding, as well as William and Kate’s and make some comparisons. Such liturgical and theological analysis would make for a lively discussion.
What unique thematic threads would be noticed regarding the essential elements of worship – music, Scripture, leadership, congregational involvement, preaching, prayers, and silence?
Moreover, what do the order and content of the wedding service say about the Monarchy? What do they say about the church? And what do they say about the millions of people who were watching?
As a professor asked me years ago regarding a paper I submitted, “So what?” I pose a similar question today: what was really at stake with this Royal wedding? So what?
Personally, I would say that the service had much to do with Diana and her legacy. Lady Di was a woman who knew how to love, and to share that love, even in desperate, challenging times.
The love that Harry and Meghan embrace brings together many new strands, some of which began with Diana. Like her, they continue to follow their hearts.
The Monarchy is tobe comm ended for keeping pace, supporting the happy couple, as well as learning how to march to a different drummer.
This past week, regarding another international partnership, a focus on love may be a way to keep the north and south of the border together. Dynamics always exist behind why people say what they do. These may have more to do with the giver than the receiver who is being projected upon. As the Scriptures say, “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it” (Song of Solomon 8:7).
Bored looks aside, this Royal wedding was a powerful reminder of how the love of two, including the love each brought into the relationship, can significantly influence the love of many. Let’s be hopeful and encouraging.
This photo released by Kensington Palace on Monday May 21, shows an official wedding photo of Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, on the East Terrace of Windsor Castle, Windsor, England, Saturday May 19.