Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Customs, Camels and Gnats

While helping my son and his bride to be find a venue for their upcoming wedding, I ran across an interesting complication, that although expected, confirmed a longstanding suspicion I have held; Episcopalians are, among Christians, a most curious breed!

Yes, it is true! Many Episcopal clergy will not allow weddings during Lent, and as I inquire of several, am politely reminded that this prohibition is;
“…a long standing custom in the Catholic, Orthodox and Episcopal Churches…”
Now, I respect both custom and tradition, but can not supress a gentle smile! Lent is a season where we prepare in fasting and prayer for the contemplation of the death and resurrection of our Lord, yet we all know Christ is not dying again at all. It is not a penitential season in the heavenlies even if we exclude Alleluias from our liturgy!

Even in Lent other sacraments are celebrated; Sundays are feasts of the Lord; the Eucharist, reconciliation and holy unction are always in vogue. Furthermore, I have seldom seen a priest not celebrate a special anniversary, occasion or birthday nor forgo that special trip regardless of the liturgical calendar.

Despite custom and millenary tradition held in the Catholic and Orthodox churches, we Episcopalians rightly admit women to all orders of ministry, have the first woman to be a Primate in Anglicanism as our presiding bishop, have consented to the consecration of non celibate gay and lesbian persons to the episcopate, commune children before confirmation, are known to bless same sex unions in some places and have questioned what other Christians hold dear. Many of us are proud of our broad inclusive church and our approach to dealing with difficult social issues; holding opposites in tension and pastoral accommodation are part of our tradition!

How funny is it then that we should in deference to “custom” have qualms about weddings during Lent? Really now? Should we serve sauce with that camel while a few gnats are strained for dessert?

No disrespect intended for my family of faith, just saying! It’s hard to take that too seriously in the 21st century’s Episcopal Church. We appeal to custom and tradition even as we merrily and busily overlook both in many areas of our common life… thanks be to God with no Alleluias, please!!!

In the end I trust all will work out! I have a good feeling and Episcopalians are sensible, discerning people by and large. We are, with the help of God, reaching a solution which respects both custom and necessity. I would like my son to be married as a proper Episcopalian; from the BCP, tastefully, in church...! It is hard to argue that this is not a wonderful and most sensible custom!

No camel dishes will be served during the reception to be sure, after all, it will be in Lent!



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