Here is love

I have just published my twenty-first book. Entitled Here is Love: Preaching at Weddings, it complements my previous book, There is Hope: Preaching at Funerals (IVP 2021). However unlike my book on preaching at funerals, my book on preaching at weddings is self-published. Hopefully within the next month or two it will be available on Amazon, but in the meantime it is already available on the Great British Bookshop.

However, rather than say anything more about my latest book, I have asked a former student of mine at Spurgeon’s College, to review it.  Geoff is a past president of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, and in retirement is amongst other things, an Honorary Ecumenical Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. He writes:

It is a pleasure reviewing this book but a slightly strange pleasure: I have preached at a wedding only twice in the last twenty years, on both occasions at the weddings of my sons.  Maybe I’m not well placed to write about Paul’s latest book.  However, wedding services were very much part of my life previously, and it’s always good to taste the fruit of another’s reflective practice over many years.

When marrying people in the early years of my ministry, I benefitted from Paul’s wisdom as my previous theological college principal.  I used his ‘Happy Ever After’ as the basis of marriage preparation.  However, there was nothing like Here is Love at that time, save a Grove Booklet by Ian Bunting.  It would have been a valuable resource.

Paul has conducted numerous and varied weddings and what comes over is he really likes a wedding!  The book begins with some reflection on weddings in general, how weddings have changed, and the statistics around marriage, weddings and church weddings in particular.  After sharing his personal experience of many years, a section includes the creation of a number of policies concerning weddings, something particularly useful for those not in Anglican churches.

Helpfully, there is an examination of some of the challenges of preaching: the dilemma of knowing who to preach to, and the mixed nature of the congregation, among others.  However, the bulk of the book, and its richness, consists of sermons, each with a preceding commentary, emphasizing the importance of scriptural preaching at weddings.

There are sixteen sermons, six from the Old Testament, four from the Gospels, five from the New Testament Letters, and a concluding sermon.  Within this expanse, the sermons are varied, addressing the different circumstances of the couples.  All of them are quintessentially Paul, drawing extensively on the wisdom of others as well as his own experience and knowledge.  They have a lightness of touch while speaking with serious honesty and realistic expectation.  There is creativity, compassion, poignancy and challenge.  Above all, without being explicitly evangelistic, save one, these sermons are abundant with gospel, good news.

The commentaries do not simply touch upon the passages but excavate them thoroughly.  And, in the process address issues such as divorce, remarriage, the marriage of non-believers, cohabitation, what the apostle Paul means by submission.  Both the commentary and the sermons make for good reading.  The sermons, while specifically preached at a wedding, would not be out of place, with some small adaptation, in any service of worship.

Of all of them, I most enjoyed the sermon on the Song of Songs where Paul goes for a specifically erotic rather than allegorical approach, with which I would concur.  I sense that he particularly enjoyed preaching this!  A final sermon is a celebration of God’s love and, appropriately, ends on a high note.

This is a book to read and enjoy, though maybe not in one go, but perhaps devotionally, for there is much to feed the soul.  If I was preaching at a wedding I would find it tempting to pick out one of the sermons and put it into my own voice. Used judiciously, Here I Love would definitely enhance any preaching.”

Hopefully Geoff has whetted your appetite to go and get a copy for yourself!


  1. Obviously I haven’t read the book! But I have preached at a number of weddings, indeed being able to include a short address is one of my preconditions for conducting a wedding. My favourite sermon was one I preached coming out of Covid, where one of the bride had been our Deacon responsible for updating our risk assessments. Trading upon the fact that she had actually had to do a RA for the service arrangements, I was able to preach on “A Risk Assessment for Marriage”.

    But I digress. Most of the weddings I have conducted have been for folk who haven’t had a living Christian faith. Here the problem is that I increasingly find we don’t have much common language or knowledge background. The challenge is therefore so something which is not only Christian but comprehensible to the couple and the congregation. This, is find, is difficult; my most common theme has been to parallel the commitment of love that the couple are making and the commitment of love made by Jesus to us.

    And I never want to hear 1 Corinthians 13 read at a wedding again – though I fear I shall not win that “battle”!

  2. I probably will never preach at a wedding again but somewhat unusually I have officiated at more weddings tan funerals. The law is different in Scotland and I took many services at secular venues in the Gretna area where I always gave a word based on scripture. I shall read your book and hope it does well.

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