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Jesus-shaped weddings

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.

We often speak about the difference the Lord Jesus Christ makes to marriages, but what about the actual wedding day?  What does a wedding shaped by Jesus look like?

There is no one-size-fits-all formula: I’ve been to many weddings over the years with varying arrangements, yet equally wonderful.  But the Bible does suggest some principles.

First and foremost, a Christian wedding should make much of Jesus.  A Christian marriage is supposed to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church, and it is our Creator who invented marriage in the first place.  So it is only appropriate that the service includes a Bible reading and a talk making Christ known.  A wedding may well be a rare visit to church for many guests, and here is an opportunity to draw attention to the good news of Jesus.  An atmosphere of praise and thanksgiving to God, and prayers which rightly express the happy couple’s dependence on God for their future, now and eternally, is a wonderful witness.

Next, a Christian wedding should be planned “not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4, NIV). It should be a good experience for guests.  This sounds obvious, but our culture, and the whole wedding industry, can lure us into thinking of a wedding in self-indulgent terms: best photoshoot, grandest meal, most romantic location, smartest clothes, most spectacular hen or stag do.

Instead, we should be asking ourselves how our plans will impact our guests.  Will our proposed location land them with big costs?  Will the shape of the day mean they have to hang around for ages?  Will the hen or stag do create private financial difficulty for some invited?  Will the arrangements work for Granny and Grandpa as well as for younger friends?  Will anyone know the songs?  Will kindness be the air we breathe?

We’ll also take care not to portray marriage as the be-all-and-end-all of life.  Again, we’ll keep Jesus central, and be sensitive to the situations of different guests.

And we should take care, when it comes to the speeches, not to let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29, NIV) The best speeches I’ve heard haven’t been models of oratory, but have been genuine, fun and loving, and have left out all traces of cynicism and coarseness.

What a witness to Christ a Christian wedding can be – and not only in our speech, but in our actions. It’s scarcely the main meaning of the passage quoted above, but at the wedding in Cana the guests did pretty well as a result of Jesus’ presence!