Can you imagine what last Friday's wedding would have been like, if Kate and William had followed the way of most people today and chosen a civil wedding service?
1. A civil ceremony would not have begun with that wonderful hymn, sung both inside and outside the cathedral – "Guide me, O thou great Redeemer, pilgrim through this barren land; I am weak, but thou art mighty; hold me with thy powerful hand; Bread of heaven, feed me now and evermore". In fact, without God people don’t even bother to sing, or worse, singing is reduced to a performance of the gifted, rather than a people's choir bound together by our need to worship and praise. There is something very good about the powerful and mighty of a land joining their voices with the nobodies, to share their common status before God.
2. There would have been no grand cathedral. Maybe they would have got married on the banks of the Thames (maybe not), or at Albert Hall or in William’s grandmother’s back garden. Something would have been lost. For 1000 years that building has inspired people to look beyond their earthly struggles, to look up to a grand and majestic God who rules, even over kings.
3. There would have been no choir to remind us that "This is the day that the Lord has made". Sure a pop star or two might have sung a love song, but the reminder that all our days are a gift from a loving God would probably have been missed.
4. Whatever you think of the whole idea of royalty (I will leave that for another day), on Friday you could not have missed that the royals also bow in prayer to the ultimate King of Kings. Human rulers, whatever their style, will only ever be held accountable by the ultimate Ruler of this world. Take God out of the picture and kings and despots are answerable to no one.
5. The Bishop of London’s sermon has been criticized by believers and unbelievers alike, but much of what he said would never have been said by a civil celebrant. Only a preacher with the authority of God could look the greatest wedding fairy tale in decades in the eye and say this is not enough - "As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete….."
6. Sure at a civil wedding there would have been readings – poems about love or something that someone found on the net. But when Kate’s brother so beautifully read those words from the Bible, it was hard to miss their power and authority.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12: 1-2
God save our gracious Prince and Princess and save us all if we ever completely abandon God as a culture.