I attended the covenant of holy union (or a commitment ceremony, or a wedding, if you prefer) yesterday of a friend of mine from work and his partner at All Saints Episcopal Church in San Francisco. It is a beautiful Craftsman style building, very unassuming from the street, and once you enter you are immediately struck by the beauty of the craftsmanship and the iconography throughout. It is a little church, the kind where you imagine all of the members know each other.
I have attended Episcopal churches a few times in my life, and having grown up Lutheran, some of the pomp and circumstance was vaguely familiar to me. I sat next to a Jewish friend who leaned over from time to time and asked me about what we should do next, and I had to tell her that I really didn’t know. She probably knew more than I did because I think she attended an Episcopal school.
The church I go to now is so much more casual than this place was, so I have to say that I didn’t know how to behave myself. Each church has its own rituals, I guess, but the Episcopals really do the pageantry. They have the intricately gold-embroidered garb, the jeweled chalice, the iconography, swinging the incense in the little brass pot with smoke everywhere, everything is fancy and highly ritualized. You have to stand and kneel and sing and say things at the right times, and its all so serious. All of us in the congregation kept looking around to see if anyone knew what came next, waiting and searching for cues.
I always get choked up a weddings, and this was no exception. I was very moved by ceremony and the sermon. And same-sex ceremonies always get me a little more because when queers get married we do so in the face adversity. Also, I learned that this was the first same-sex wedding that this church had blessed, which just adds to the significance of the event.
The whole occasion was emotional and moving, the joining of these two people indeed a sacred moment.
And I had the perfect context in which to tell my favorite joke:
Q: What did the drag queen say to the priest?A: Honey, I love your dress, but your purse is on fire.