a couple weeks ago i went to my first catholic wedding ceremony. when i was growing up, i was given the impression that catholicism was practically a completely separate religion on the grounds that they pray to mary. but i figured a catholic wedding ceremony wouldn’t be too different from a protestant ceremony. the church had a modern sanctuary that looked like an auditorium. the main difference really was a gigantic statue of christ hanging on a cross at stage center and a massive fountain in the middle of the aisle apparently filled with holy water. during the ceremony we intermittently sat and stood for singing, readings and a brief homily. during the rehearsal the day before, the priest had told all non-catholics in the wedding party to cross their arms during communion, and he would bless them instead of partaking in communion. during the ceremony, i sat on my own since nate was in the wedding party, so when it was time for communion i got up and started walking down the aisle prepared to cross my arms and receive a priestly blessing. then i noticed that there was a handful of people staying seated and i started second guessing whether it was ok to approach the priest, so i turned back down the aisle. embarrassing. during the prayers they all knelt and made the sign of the cross and i didn’t know if i was supposed to follow suit to be polite. when the priest told the guests to extend gestures of peace to one another the lady in front of me literally flashed the peace sign but i didn’t know what to do so i nodded curtly at her. liturgy was recited without a book to follow along in, so i mumbled along. i felt so out of place, blundering through this ceremony. i felt like everyone was judging my non-catholicness.
a couple days later, my sister-in-law was describing her experience visiting a mosque – how she had to cover her hair, the imam-led prayers, the separate entrances etc. then we were driving past one of the massive synagogues in philly and i started thinking about places of worship must be so different for each religion. what does the inside of a synagogue look like? is there one type of synagogue or are there modern versions? how does tithing work? would everyone know immediately that i wasn’t jewish by what i was wearing or what i look like? would i be welcomed, or would i be escorted from the building? which made me think about how a church is perceived by non-christians. does worship just seem like a form of karaoke? would the sermon make sense, or is there too much jargon? are we elitist? what even draws someone to our church doors? i think every church has a target audience and some form of advertising, curb appeal, customer service, product, cost and return, but does it even matter?
following the wedding ceremony was a pretty standard hotel reception, open bar, chewy entrées, an outmoded DJ, slideshow of bride and groom as babies and awkward pre-teens followed by a summary of their courtship and instant photobooths. the hotel staff were easily convinced to hand over the key to the honeymoon suite, and nate and his friends proceeded to decorate with juvenile messages, lewd inside jokes and turning up the heat. the highlight of the reception was when the DJ played “who let the dogs out” and grandma proceeded to dance solo in her socks.