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andrew picard – the royal wedding: colliding worlds

Like most people on Facebook, I have many worlds colliding. I have friends from different circles of my life all in one space. I have friends who I have made since I’ve come to Christian faith and I have friends from before I came to Christian faith.

I was interested to find out what people from these different worlds thought of the royal wedding, especially what they thought about the role of the church in the wedding. Whilst I pretended to protest about having to watch the wedding, secretly I quite enjoyed it. Having conducted quite a few weddings, I enjoyed watching how experienced and brilliant church leaders did it, despite those eye-brows! This was one of those opportunities when the church can play a central role in a key public event with billions of people watching. Whilst it was very ‘high-brow’, I thought Rowan Williams and his crew were excellent. There can’t be many more high-pressured weddings than that one! I’m always struck by how much I enjoy the richness of liturgy.  I’m from a tradition that doesn’t value liturgy, and I think we are poorer for it. I can only wonder what it would look like for the Royals to be married in one of these churches with our music, sermons and prayers – I think our paucity of words would be exposed. I enjoyed the liturgy, the hymns and the sermon. But, I’m a Christian, and someone who’s had to lead weddings, so it doesn’t take much to win my vote. What about you? How did you think the church did in the public eye?

Within minutes people were posting on Facebook about the wedding. One pastor friend wrote “Enjoyed the wedding. Thought the service was great! I think I’ll steal some of that sermon…was very good.” To which a chorus of Christian voices replied “I agree. Very good sermon. Not too long but covered all the points, I think.” Another wrote, “I think the sermon was the highlight of the ceremony.” Within my Christian friends the church had done very well. But Christians would say that, wouldn’t we?

I read some posts by friends who weren’t Christians. Some also enjoyed the wedding, but I noticed that these friends were less impressed with the wedding. “Can sum1 get one of those snipers to sniper that priest, he’s so …. boring!” Another replied, “bahahaha, and get the other 50 snipers to sniper the choir. Enough singing already!” Another friend posted “Seriously! Is anyone still awake after all these wedding songs?” To which someone gave their suggested version of a perfect wedding, “Hey Queen Latifah, when you marry your Maori prince I expect Ten Guitars only… with lots of Lion Reds” For many of these friends the church’s input was like being served brussels sprouts – it’s something you have to swallow because you’re a guest.

Clearly it’s easy for Christians to score points with other Christians, but it’s much harder to impress those who are not Christians. If our preaching is only to Christians, we might score many points but they will tend to be easy points. It’s much greater challenge to connect our ministry and preaching with those who aren’t Christians. I’m glad that I have many worlds colliding, and I’m sure you do too. Colliding worlds create lots of tensions, but as a friend keeps telling me, we need to live where worlds collide and embrace the tension.

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Andrew Picard is husband of Margaret, dad of Olivia and Amy, a friend to many, and a follower of Jesus. He lectures at Carey Baptist College and co-ordinates Field Education.

One Comment

  1. Allen Hince says:

    Hey there Andrew, it’s good reading your writings. It’s an interesting point that it is easy to score points with Christians with stuff that is, well, Christian. The response from the rest comes as no surprise though. To expect them to ‘hear’ the good preaching or to appreciate the ceremony would be like expecting me to enjoy eating quiche – it will always seem boring. It highlights that it is God who shines the light of the gospel upon the human soul rather than depending on us being clever or the like. Big occasions are good and I can’t help but wonder whether we have lost our sense of occasion – is casualness becoming an Achilles heal for society at large perhaps? Good stuff Andrew, and yes, I enjoyed the wedding also!

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