July 2022 - Rector's Ramblings

Portrait photo of Andrew DoyeWeddings are in full flow. Three, in the Parish Church, this month; and a further three scheduled for August.

 It is a privilege for me to preside at a ceremony that has such significance in the life of bride and groom and their wider family. Still more so, that I am entrusted to offer some words of encouragement and to pronounce God’s kind blessing upon the couple.

It is a sadness we do not conduct even more weddings in the Parish Church; but those we do are of precious importance: trust me! If you or a family member wants to explore the possibility of a wedding in Westbourne, please ask; and we’ll gladly see what we are able to offer.  

I have led well over a hundred weddings down the years. This has covered every decade of life, from couples in their very early twenties to those in their seventies (and anniversaries and renewals of vows into their eighties). Those seeking these ceremonies have displayed a range of religious affinities: in so far as I might judge (and I do not set out to judge), faith is very important to some; and of next to no importance to others.  Wedding flowers decorating the churchWe marry, irrespective of faith, because we are a parish church seeking to serve our community.  All who live in the parish, or have a meaningful connection with it, can ask to be married in their parish church if the present rules of the wider Church allow it.    

Some weddings have been sumptuous; some have been simple, and none the worse for it. The numbers of those attending has ranged from a dozen to nearing two hundred. Each allows a personal flavour reflecting the couple’s own characters and wishes.

Such a pleasure for me, then, to be a part of these celebrations; such an honour to contribute words of hope, caution, compassion and blessing.    
Which returns me, again, to the many different messages I have included over the years in a wedding address.    

One simple message that speaks to my heart is the following. It reflects things I have written in these pages on an earlier occasion.

‘Love’ needs to be a Verb, in the understanding of our lives’ purpose, and not (simply) a Noun.

A verb, in contrast, is ongoing, dynamic; ever at play; it is known in its becoming. It is not satisfied; nor for that matter, exhausted. It has a future that is as real as its past.

The invitation in our living, in our lives of love, is to understand love not as something that provides simply a reason for entering into that relationship: a threshold passport; but rather for us to inhabit love as a way of being, an openness to that which is other than ourselves, a flow or current which carries us. This way, love is never (just) a deposit in an account, but a present habit of investing… ourselves, for the sake of any other. 

And it's not just marriages, of course, but the whole of life: that bids us keep fresh and flowing, this desire to ‘live in love’.

Andrew Doye                


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