Letter from St Mark's House

St Mark's House

June/July 2017


Dear friends

“A wedding is one of life’s great moments, a time of solemn commitment as well as good wishes, feasting and joy” (Introduction to The Marriage Service). That certainly was true last Saturday as Pippa Middleton and James Matthews were married in St Mark’s, when Englefield celebrated a ceremony which drew international interest. “Just to be there was wonderful” was one comment which summed up verbal snapshots of the day: the “glowing bride”, “adorable children”, “fashion show of guests”, “amazing flowers”, “a village occasion” and “a happy event” with thanks to all those who worked so tirelessly to ensure this was so.

Feasting and joy make good companions. They feature prominently in the Song of Solomon, written possibly for the King’s wedding, in which an excited couple exchange expressions of desire and delight. For those who grasp the imagery, their banter is explicit. Some are surprised that such a poem should be in the Bible, but that is to forget that human sexuality is God’s creation for our pleasure. The Song celebrates God’s intention for love and marriage as stated from the beginning and reaffirmed by Jesus: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). At the heart of the song is a wedding sequence with the affirmation of their commitment to one another: “My lover is mine and I am his…Set me like a seal (a sign of belonging) over your heart.”

Solemn commitment might not seem an obvious companion for feasting and joy. ‘Commitmentphobia’ was coined to sum up a pervasive attitude of our age, well expressed in Four Weddings and a Funeral when the best man, Charles, in his “renowned” speech says, “I am, as ever, in bewildered awe of anyone who makes this kind of commitment.” In fact, it is in saying to one another “I will” and exchanging vows of life-long commitment that bride and groom create the relationship of trust and security in which freedom and fulfilment flourish. In Thornton Wilder’s play The Skin of Our Teeth, one of the characters says to her husband, “I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage.”

We are thankful that six other couples are planning “a time of solemn commitment as well as good wishes, feasting and joy” this year. We wish them, with James and Pippa, God’s richest blessings on their life together.

Nick and Harriet