Saturday, December 02, 2006

A winter wedding

The evening after our concert excursion, I had a wedding celebration at St John's. A regular member of our congregation in his forties who had finally found the love of his life earlier in the year. I knew the first time he brought her to church that this was already a special relationship developing for both of them, and so wasn't at all surprised when they invited me around to discuss marriage, and matters of faith. Once the decision was made an early date was set for a modest ceremony with just under thirty people taking part, that is, apart from the Glyn-Neath male voice choir whom he ad invited to come along and sing. The groom's father had been a member of the choir for many years. "I grew up around these guys.", he declared. They were evidently happy to have been invited.

Although now a leading local international businessman, he had never lost touch with his roots in the former mining village where he had been raised, schooled and gone to chapel. A couple of years ago, having settled in Cardiff he came and asked to be Confirmed and to join the Church in Wales, not out of any sense of disaffection with his non-conformist past, but out of a desire to identify with the church in the heart of the city to which he had felt an attraction for more than twenty years. In fact, he brings with him good Christian gifts nurtured in his Welsh speaking radical religious background.

The wedding liturgy, which I had to prepare with the couple was completely bi-lingual in print as in practice. A minister friend of the groom's, Robin Samuel, now working for Christian Aid in Wales shared the Welsh language components of the ceremony with me, since the groom made his vows in his mother tongue, and the bride, an English speaker in hers. Sharing the whole service together between languages was entirely natural and drew favourable comment from the congregation afterwards. Often I have done this in French, even n German, Italian and once in Spanish, on my own. Quite a challenge to concentrate hard and avoid funny sounding errors of pronunciation.

There was an intimate banquet to follow the reception in the Mansion House, Cardiff's official Mayoral residence. It was an occasion of relaxed good humoured formality with good food and good talk in both languages around the table. And, it's been quite a relief to have Saturday to recover from two late nights in a row before the onslaught of a five service Sunday tomorrow. What a way to start the new Christian Year!

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