It is awesome.
When I first saw the "JK Wedding Entrance Dance" on YouTube my jaw dropped and I was in awe of this couple's audacity, joy, and ability to dance. What fun, what creativity, what a celebration. Though very different than my wedding procession, I saw a joy and happiness in this procession that I felt in my own.
But I'm a pastor, and I couldn't help but ask myself if I would permit a couple and their wedding party to process into the church in this manner, with this music.
No, I wouldn't.
I love the joy and the energy and the dancing. Indeed, I know that the God who gifted this couple with such love and flair is the same God who blesses their relationship, and that their creative celebration of these divine gifts is itself a manner of praising God (thanks to Rachel, who commented on my Facebook page, for that insight).
But still, my answer is no.
It's not that I think such exuberence is unwarranted in church. In fact, I think we can use a litte more exuberence in our churches (Ryan Howard hits a home run and we cheer. The pastor declares that Christ died for our sins, and we offer a solemn/somber "Amen." Huh?). I believe that our faith is a living faith, our God is a living God, and our community a living witness to the God of new life … and as such energy, enthusiasm, joy and yes, dancing, have a place in our church's (worship) life.
But still, my answer is no.
There are many things that give us joy – baseball games, board games, fireworks, and yes, good dance tunes – but I'm sure that the generation of joy is not reason enough to include any these things in our church's worship life. The joy we experience when we dance or sing or cheer at a baseball game is truly a gift of God, but that doesn't necessarily make it the stuff of the church's worship.
Every element of our church's worship is designed to help the worshipper hear the Word of God and offer her praises to God. From the music to the prayers, to the readings and the various movements and gestures, all aspects of the worship service should explicitly point to the God we praise, the God who comes to us in Word and Sacrament.
And so, I'm not sure that this song – Forever, by Chris Brown (lyrics here) – can be construed as proclamation of God's Word or as praise of God. It might have a great beat, and sweet words of romance, but … but is it the stuff of Christian worship? Perhaps the pastor did a great job of connecting the joy and love of this wedding dance with the joy and love of God … perhaps.
I think this dance would be a great way to enter a wedding reception or a civil wedding ceremony. I think the dance could be a great way to enter a church service, given that the accompanying music is one of Christian praise in the Black Gospel or Christian Rock tradition. Yes, I'm fine with the form – with the dancing – but I do think that words matter … because we're a people who worship a Living Word, a Savior who is the Word Made Flesh. A wedding service in a church, after all, is a church service, a gathering of people around the Word of God.
I am sure that this dance made the wedding day meaningful and joyful for the couple and for those in attendence … but is that the purpose of a Christian wedding liturgy, to make the experience of declaring marriage vows meaningful and joyful? No. Wedding liturgies – or funeral liturgies or any liturgies, for that matter – are not meant to be "Christmas Trees" onto which we hang every sentiment-inspiring reading, ritual, or performance. There are many things that inspire emotion and sentiment, but they don't all belong in a service of Christian worship. (I addressed this issue in relation to Christian worship and patriotism in a post entitled Praising God, Honoring Country, three years ago).
Truly this couple has been richly blessed by God with joy, talent, and a knack for celebrating their love. I was truly moved by their dance … yet as a pastor I would only suggest that they move their dance moves to the reception hall.