Can I go to weddings and funerals on Sabbath, Aunty?
7 February 2022 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy
Should we go to weddings or funerals on the Sabbath?
Signed, Not Sure, Just checking
Dear Not Sure,
The Bible’s pattern for Sabbath isn’t much like ours, so it’s hard to make a perfect comparison. There is little evidence, for example, that prior to the Babylonian captivity there was public worship on Sabbaths. It was, as the fourth commandment says, a day to rest, not gather. In those days weddings and funerals were more likely just community feasts, and the Bible doesn’t tell us when they were celebrated, or how—other than that there was feasting and drinking involved.
In the absence of precise instruction, Aunty will just say she’d like to see the Sabbath as a day for anything that brings us closer to God and to our community.
While Jews didn’t do funerals on Sabbath (remember the women not being allowed to dress Jesus’ body until Sunday?) we’re Christians, not Jews. Jesus overcame death, and we celebrate that. Jesus healed people on Sabbath, and scolded the Pharisees for their refusal to help people on Sabbath. What better day for followers of Jesus to affirm someone’s life, to think about the promise of the resurrection, and to bring comfort to friends or family than a funeral?
Wasn’t the first wedding day the Sabbath that Adam and Eve spent together in Eden? Why not celebrate such a joyous coupling on Sabbath? Aunty once saw a pastor do a simple wedding at the end of a church service, and the fellowship dinner was the reception. She thought it was lovely and appropriate.
However, there is also this: nowadays, many couples want extravagant church weddings that have more to do with decorations and attire and pomp than with God, and don’t care how it affects the other users of the church. Aunty once watched a family start setting up for a big Sabbath wedding while church members were still worshiping, visiting and having fellowship dinner after church, with florists and caterers and musicians and tux deliverers traipsing in and out. Since then, Aunty understands why many Adventist congregations have a rule against Sabbath weddings in the church.
The Sabbath is about strengthening relationships. Weddings and funerals are about just that: families coming together in grief and in celebration. Which makes weddings and funerals, aside from the practical concerns mentioned above, in line with the spirit of the Sabbath.
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