Eugene Cho

weddings and communion

It’s that time of the year.  With 81% of our church being single, you can imagine that we have our share of weddings  – particularly during the beautiful summers of Seattle. 

It’s a great privilege for me but at times, it’s pretty overwhelming on my schedule which is why I tell couples from the outset that I can’t attend the wedding rehearsals.  Eventually, I know that the other pastors will be asked to officiate [and have been asked] as congregrants form more intimate relationships with other pastors.  In addition, there’s a very good chance that my family and I will be taking a three month sabbatical next summer.  But I digress…

About 10 days ago [7.07.2007], I officiated a wedding for Mike and Grace at Sunset Hill Park – overlooking an incredible view of the Puget Sound [incredible photos courtesy of HageCreative Photography].  The picture below pretty much sums up how perfect the day was…

hage1.jpg

Well, it’s now time for another wedding.  I am now writing this from Sunriver, Oregon to officiate Karl Peter and Rachel E.’s wedding.  Remind me next time to figure out exactly where these locations are before I commit.  This was a seven hour drive!  Imagine that with three young children.  But, we’re now here, excited and privileged to celebrate their wedding later today.

As a pastor, my encouragement to couples as they plan their wedding is to realize that the ultimate goal of the wedding is to not put on a good show.  It pains me to see couples or families spend an exorbitant amount of money [and some that actually decide to go into debt] to put on some fancy wedding.  You don’t need to impress anyone.  Take a shower; Show up; honor your parents and families; get some decent food; get some good wine and cheap beer is OK too, and enjoy and rejoice with your guests.  Finally, if you’re a Christian, the wedding is foremost, a worship service and celebration.  When it’s all said and done: a couple gathers together with family and friends to come into the presence of the Triune God to gather, to be encouraged [and to exchange their vows] and to be sent forth with purpose. 

More couples are now requesting communion to be served at their weddings which I am VERY happy and privileged to administer.  To my recollection, while no one has requested communion as a ‘Hey, can I check that box on the wedding menu because that would be a cool thing to do,’ most choose to have communion privately as a couple and thus, to have a “closed communion.”  While uncomfortable, I’ve basically acquiesced in the past – but no more.  After wrestling with this off and on over the years, conversations and reading other pastors’ thought on the issue and praying through it, I’m convicted that Communion was never intended to be served for only a few or a couple even on their special Wedding Day – all while the invitation is not open to others. 

hage2.jpg

So, yes, it would be a great joy to administer Communion at your wedding.  But no, I will not only serve you – no matter how great you guys look.  If communion is to be administered, the Table and Invitation must be made open and available to all.  Congratulations and blessings to those who are getting married in the coming months. 

Filed under: marriage, seattle

13 Responses

  1. don says:

    Eugene;
    Thanks for taking this concern one more level. I appreciate the way you are wrestling with the pastoral realities.

  2. Blake says:

    Snazzy suit. 🙂 You’ve got to be the most style-conscious pastor I’ve ever met.

    I like your idea about doing an open communion at weddings. This is a new concept to me, and though I’m a ways from getting married (kinda gotta find a girl first) I think this is something I’d like to have at my wedding. It just better not become wedding-cliche first. 😉

  3. Dennis says:

    Pastor Eugene,
    Thanks for your thoughtful reflections on this issue as well. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy Quest so much. It has a high regards for the sacraments but also a high view of grace and accessibility.

  4. leah says:

    we’re planning on the open table. we’ll just have to make sure there’s enough bread and wine on the fourth…thanks for agreeing to the commute to the eastside!

  5. m@ says:

    81 percent?? Huh….

    Bachelor ’til the rapture, baby! 🙂

  6. e cho says:

    blake: “most style conscious?”

    maybe it’s the wife and her influence. as for my style, you’d be amazed what stuff you can find at goodwill. save your money.

  7. chad says:

    great words! i don’t know about “cheap” beer though!

  8. e cho says:

    Chad,

    I was thinking that if you invited Questers to your wedding, you gonna go beer bankrupt very very soon. While not drunkards, we have some guzzlers and while many want to be like Jesus, we have yet to find someone who can replicate the miracle at the wedding in Cana.

  9. Blake says:

    PE: Yeah, you’re probably right. Gotta be the wife. 😉

    Chad: I gotta agree with PE. Unless you’ve got the hook-ups to some micro-brewery and can get the goods for a cheap price, anything other than cheap beer at a Quest wedding would end up being prohibitively expensive. My own love for beer is probably why I haven’t been invited to too many quest weddings… I’d drain the couple’s wallets! 😉

  10. m@ says:

    Secret Tip: Two Buck Chuck is a wedding planner’s best friend. 🙂

  11. thanks for the link to my work. always enjoyable to read you thoughts. glad you never want to stop wrestling with you calling!

  12. Tracy says:

    Preach on P.E.
    Big smiles…

  13. Sarah H. says:

    I’m glad you wrote about this. We thought about having communion at our wedding, but our pastor said he would only do it if we served it to everyone. That made me realize that it is a communal celebration, for all. I hope Karl-Peter and Rachel’s wedding was fun for you. I’m sorry I missed it, but traveling wasn’t an option for me then. God Bless.

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One Day’s Wages

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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