Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Multi-faith celebration

With the sacristy all upside down because of the builders and nothing easy to access, it was not a good day to be preparing for a wedding. I also arrived in plenty of time, but forgot my keys. Fortunately, I was able to get into the sacristy because of the workmen, and acquire spares to make me functional without having to return home for the full set I usually carry. By the time guests started arriving, I had everything prepared and was relaxed and ready.

Unusually, the bride arrived well ahead of the groom, who was still at home doing his hair, Beckham style. She busied herself briefing her brother, who gave her away, and other friends and family who were looking after music (from an iPod), and serving as ushers, bridesmaid, best man etc. She was radiant with anticipation, and although claiming nerves was confidently in charge of sorting everything out, before the man in her life showed up.

I made the mistake of not briefing the tiny young woman who was taking photos (with a hefty digital SLR with telephoto lens, which was an effort for her to handle) about being unobtrusive in taking photos. During the ceremony she wandered around, far too close, snapping away, her high heels clicking on the chancel tiles at every step she took. There were about thirty guests, and all just about managed to squeeze in to the choir, making for an intimate occasion, accompanied by the heels! Fortunately she'd forgotten to bring her flash gun. How I got through my homily without cracking and shouting at her I never know. To have stopped and ordered her to behave better would have destroyed the good atmosphere that had built up. During the vows both the groom and I fluffed our lines on one occasion. Blame it on the heels.

Apart from a few English friends from the Pentecostal church attended by the groom's mother, most of the congregation were young Malaysian ex-patriates. I heard several people arriving say that they'd never been to a wedding before or in a church before. The best man, however, declared himself to be a Catholic. The majority, however, were Muslim or Buddhist. What an amazing gift and privilege to address such a diverse faith congregation. I felt supremely happy, and apart from the heels from hell, greatly enjoyed blessing this union of young people feeling their way into an experience and a life in which faith matters, and pleased to show it to all their friends.

The groom said he'd like to come and join us for worship on Sunday. He works to support himself through University, often on Sundays. I wonder if they will come when opportunity arises?

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