Wedding songs of ascent

I dislike unity candles at weddings.

The tradition was to have the mothers light two candles, which are then used to light a central candle, and then are extinguished. But in marriage, the tension of self- sacrificial love comes because the individuals do not cease to exist, unlike the extinguished side candles. And figuring out which parents should actually light the candles when there may be several options raises an unnecessary layer of pre-wedding negotiation.

FullSizeRender (1)So when Drew and Ashley started talking about other symbols, I was happy. They settled on a Lincoln Log house that they would build during the ceremony. It captured the mutuality of marriage construction. It shows the sometimes tenuous, sometimes playful nature of relationship.

Etched onto the logs in Ashley and Drew’s house is the reference, Ps 127:1. It reads Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.

And this connection made during our premarital coaching sessions, delighted me. Because it’s the beginning of Psalm 127, one of the songs of ascent.  Those are the songs I’ve been referring to this week, songs that have been working into my life for decades.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.

I’ve not learned this kind of resting yet, this kind of consistent acknowledgment of God’s hand. But that’s why we sing songs over and over. And it’s why we have symbols in our events.

Not because we’ve mastered things, but because our hearts need the reminder of commitments our voices have made.

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FullSizeRender (2)For the record, Hope and Dan making a peanut butter and jam sandwich and serving it to their wedding party is still my favorite symbol. But I suppose I’m partial to our daughter and son-in-law.

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.