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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People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

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