The best video I’ve seen in a while is J&K’s Wedding, which has been making the rounds for their awesome use of pop music and a choreographed wedding processional to give their wedding really a celebratory feel. Everytime I watch it I’m struck by the joy that becomes contagious in the crowd, even to the lil’ old lady in the front that is having the time of her life.
Embedding might be disabled so you can watch the video here.
Of course, there’s some problems with it:
- The song “Forever” is by Chris Brown who recently admitted to serious domestic abuse of his girlfriend Rihanna.
- The song lyrics are questionable and, if nothing less, the emphasis on “this one night” rather than “this whole marriage” really misses the point of a wedding ceremony.
- Finally, it is secular (also called profane) music in a religious ceremony (everything else was religious: it is a Lutheran Church officiated by a ELCA pastor). While people will talk about the incidentals, it’s often the secular music in church thing that really irritates people.
We all know what we’re supposed to do at weddings: Look on politely as a matchy-matchy parade of friends makes its slooooow way down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Try not to giggle. Rise for the bride.
But, by dancing their entrances and sending that upbeat, physical energy right back out to their guests, the Peterson-Heinz wedding turns the rote behaviors into spontaneous reactions. Of course the guests watch attentively as the wedding party bobs in. You can bet not a single child had to be shushed at that point. This was no longer a display of bad posture and dyed-to-match pumps — it was an uplifting swell of celebration with a beat. The bride — unescorted, we note; so independent! — was and wasn’t the center of attention. The true focus was on the unified, wordless but palpable emotions of her whole support system.
In a way, this is a worship.hack in that it turns the solemn dignified space into a reflection of the energy of the gathered community. It turns things upside down and opens the senses to see what new thing God might be doing. I would hope that’s why the ELCA clergyperson agreed to this.
However, I believe the bolded critique is correct: God was not the focus at the beginning of the ceremony, the people were. The celebration and sheer joy that the bridesmaids couldn’t help but giggle about it. Did the focus shift during the ceremony? Almost certainly. So is any harm done?
So my question is: do we have to use liturgical elements to evoke that sense of community? Or can secular music at the intersection of church and world suffice to gather the community? Two points:
- First, Weddings themselves have questionable practices. Bridesmaids dress in revealing ways to divert the devils to them rather than the purified couple. Is that any less offensive to our contemporary minds than a secular dance down the aisle? I think not.
- Second, seeker churches (or services) do this all the time: play secular music at the beginning of worship and move to Christian hymns as the service progresses. There’s liturgical consideration for the beginnings of services to mark transition from profane space to sacred space.
Thoughts? Can secular music serve a purpose in religious settings? Or is there a hard and fast line in these types of ceremonies that music & arts that do not witness to Christian ideals just don’t cross.
I can’t judge this wedding having not been in on the plan or seeing the ceremony. But I can judge the joy at people being there to celebrate with their friends and family. And that joy was there.