Thursday, September 20, 2012

Weddings and Pastors

(Part 1)This past weekend I had a wedding in my congregation, and it caused me to reflect a bit.  So Friday came, and it was the rehearsal, and as at every rehearsal, there was a bit of panic, chaos, where does this go, how does this work - the nervous flittering and floating around.  And there I was, in the middle of it, being the Pastor.  Relax, be calm.  You'll be here, you will walk here, I'll tell you what you need to do - relax.  Don't worry, you will get through this - don't stress out.

Says the pastor who had his 11 month old son on his arm as mommy had to work Friday night.

And then the next day before the wedding, there was of course more nerves, more panic, and more of me saying, "Don't worry, things will work out."  My favorite one was the bride coming to me before the service nervous, "Pastor, you didn't say when we were supposed to be looking at you and not at each other" - well, during the readings, the sermons, probably look my way.  "But, oh, you better go tell M, because what if he doesn't know!?!"  At which point, with a grin, I stamped my foot and with mock indignation said, "Well, he better know, because if you both don't spend 28% of the time looking at me, it won't count and we'll just have to do it again next week!"  The Bride laughed.  Relax.  Things will be fine.

The service came.  Everyone got in. Things went well - only one or two slight missteps -- the poor Groom was eyeballing me during the ring exchange -- I tried to whisper to him "look at her" -- except the new microphone caught the whisper and played it over the loud speakers.  Everyone laughed -- folks in the congregation said afterwards, "Yeah, he was eyeballing you pretty hard." 

And they were wed.  And then came the reception, and the joy, and the honeymoon, and life.  And all the while the main thing I had been doing was saying, "Relax, don't worry, you will be married -- I'll guide you through it.  Nothing is going to really ruin this - your marriage is a gift to you from God."

(Part 2)  Afterwards, driving home from the reception, I had a realization.  This is what the entirety of Pastoral Ministry is.  Our lives, this time in the world, is nothing but the rehearsal for the great wedding feast of the life of the world to come.  And here we are, running around frantic, worried about this or that, what if I mess things up.  And there's the Pastor, in the middle of it... calmly preaching peace.

There's some Law -- make sure you show up, don't be drunk, show some respect.  There's plenty of peace - relax, this is a good thing, it will happen.  Be at peace.  Because that's the main thing that a Pastor does -- he's not there to make just that the rehearsal looks "just so" -- he's there to get folks through things calmly.  Likewise, in this life, my job as a Pastor isn't to try to make you have the perfect life -- that will never happen.  There's going to be mess ups and snafus -- but what I am to do is to guide away from that which is drastic and destructive -- and then to forgive.  To say, "fear not - Christ will come, and we will be with Him for all eternity - you are forgiven".  A Pastor is fundamentally to be an agent, a speaker of Peace, so that we get through the rehearsal and are ready for the real thing in the life of the world to come.

(Part 3)  On Tuesday, there was the Pastor's Confession Study, and we were going over the 6th Commandment in the Large Catechism, and then we also read Luther's little Wedding Booklet - attached to the small catechism.  In it he writes:

"But should any one desire us to bless them before the church or in the church, to pray over them, or also to marry them, we are in duty bound to do this. For this reason I have desired to offer this advice and form to those who do not know anything better, in case some should desire to follow our custom in this matter. The others who know all about it, that is, who do not know anything about it but permit themselves to think that they do know all about it,-well, they do not need this service of mine – except that they may be overwise and conceited about it and should guard themselves very zealously lest perchance they do something that somebody else does! Otherwise one might think that they might learn something from somebody else, and that certainly would be a great pity.

Hearing this I was a bit sad -- because, let's face it - we have a lot of pastors who mock and be little Luther, especially when it comes to the liturgy.  They know how to do things better -- and I thought about their wedding rehearsals.  Mine had joy and laughter and peace -- for them, though -- maybe it is making sure the little details are all just right.  How stressful!

And then I thought about the pastors who think their primary job is to make sure the people live their lives here just so -- and I'm not talking about morally decency, but the micromanaging "this is how a Christian is to live" acting as though we have no freedom -- and how little comfort they would give.  But things would be "right"... 

 But that's not the point -- the point of being a Pastor isn't to make this world nice, to try to make this a new Eden.  I won't do that -- and instead we should be looking forward to the New Heavens and the New Earth.  I focus there -- you are forgiven by Christ, this is what you shall have - rejoice in His promise.

 Yet, so often the temptation for the Pastor is that instead of preaching peace, we will try to bring about an order after our own heart - to make the Church look like what we want it to look like - be that the right liturgy, the right "leadership", the right structure, the right this or that.  And we sweat the small, transitory things that are passing away rather than pointing to Christ the Crucified who is coming again.

Relax.  Be at Peace.  Christ has done it all already.  You don't need to reinvent the wheel - you aren't the perfector of your congregation (let us fix our eyes upon... Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith).  Relax, and simply point to Christ Jesus - for because of Him we know that we have forgiveness, salvation, and life -- the Bridegroom soon shall call us, and then we will have the real thing - the wedding, the feast that will last for all eternity. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What joy for me, to see such a young Pastor ... GET IT !!

Thank you so much Father for this Pastor and others you have called - encouraging your children in your truth.