Celebrating the Mystery

I wanted to share that I just had a phone conversation with ******, one that really made me smile. The reason it made me smile is because a few Sundays ago, he and his wife, **** caught me before the Divine Service and shared with me that they would be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, and with that, I was so happy for them. In fact, I suggested that they consider celebrating the wonderful event for all that it is as a gracious gift of God by renewing their vows in the Rite of Affirmation of Holy Matrimony, which can happen as a separate event on a different day, but is certainly most appropriate during a Sunday morning Divine Service. In fact, the Lutheran Service Book Agenda, which is the book we pastors rely on for the various rites and ceremonies in the church, suggests the Sunday morning Divine Service as perhaps the best option.

Well, they talked about the idea and have decided to do it! And the date they’ve selected is Sunday, June 10 (which is also Graduation Sunday, so it will be a rather full day of celebration)!

This means that the Divine Service will begin that day as usual with the tolling of the bells during the procession of the cross and assistants. But then right after the Invocation, in place of Confession and Absolution, I’ll call ***** and ***** forward to the altar where they’ll be flanked by those who stood as their best man and maid of honor, and they will participate in the brief rite. As it is when we have a baptism, the rite of Confession and Absolution will be set aside, but not because it is negotiable, but rather because the Baptismal Rite is already chock full of Law and Gospel, all of which acknowledges our sin while at the same time preaches to our hearts the forgiveness of Christ. It’s the same with the reaffirmation rite for marriage. The rite itself communicates Man’s truest nature in sin and God’s merciful love expressed through the gifts He gives. In an age of confusion, one in which the sanctity of marriage is so often lost and the institution is more and more despised, this is an opportunity for the whole congregation to acknowledge and celebrate marriage as the gift of God that our Lord intends it to be—one that serves as a direct reflection of the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church (Ephesians 5).

As you can see, I’m excited to have this happen. My hope is that it will serve all of us well, and that perhaps it will spark an interest among other couples to do the same when the time and milestone opportunity arises.