From June through to August 2020 we should have seen the peak wedding and christening months. On Saturdays and Sundays over the summer, our churches would have been buzzing with life and hope as couples and families gathered in their best clothes, full of smiles and warmth. And in the weeks following, we would have been getting to know them, hearing their stories at marriage prep sessions or baptism talks. We would have met the family at a wedding rehearsal and touched base with anxious godparents in the days before the service. Couples – and their parents – might have been at Sunday worship as they listened to banns or attended to make that connection.
These days would have been filled with invites and replies as their friends and families got ready to be guests as these life milestones were marked and memories were made, memories that would have included God and God’s people. A child arrives, a marriage begins – times to celebrate and know God’s love and presence as solemn promises are made.
But all of that did not happen. The church has slipped out of sight – although it is definitely not out of mind. For wedding couples in particular, these are anxious times. They want to know what to do, what plans to make, even if they have already made the decision to postpone. Or perhaps they are hanging on, hoping and dreaming of that special day in the Autumn, uncertain of what it will be like. And families? Well, what is best to do about having a child baptised? It’s all too easy for the couples and families that we should have been seeing to have slipped out of sight and out of mind for us as the church. Yet if we forget them, then perhaps they might just forget us.
It’s actually simple to cross this divide. The church can be in sight and in mind: just keep in touch. Send a card or a message saying that you are still thinking of them, and look forward to talking to them again – even though you may not have answers to give yet. And send that card with a smile in your heart and a prayer on your lips. It simply shows you care.
We’ve been looking again at a very important axis (see fig below): balancing ‘process’ and ‘function’ with ‘warmth’ and ‘relationship’.
Process and function are all the things we need to do right: doing things safely and well.
But warmth and relationship are what creates fertile ground for the possibility of a faith journey, and is what reflects the love of God to those we meet. But, if we only have warmth, we might end up with a poor experience without proper attention to the details. Conversely, if we only have process, we miss the connection that leads to joy. Keeping in contact builds connections, and is part of the fabric of relationship.
Let couples and parents know that just because they are out of sight, they are never out of mind.