Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Promises


The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage - from the Book of Common Prayer (1979)

At the time appointed, the persons to be married, with their witnesses, assemble in the church or some other appropriate place.


During their entrance, a hymn, psalm, or anthem may be sung, or instrumental music may be played.


Then the Celebrant, facing the people and the persons to be married, with the woman to the right and the man to the left, addresses the congregation and says


Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony. The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people.


The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God's will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Therefore marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.


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Into this holy union N. N. and N. N. now come to be joined. If any of you can show just cause why they may not lawfully be married, speak now; or else for ever hold your peace.


Then the Celebrant says to the persons to be married


I require and charge you both, here in the presence of God, that if either of you know any reason why you may not be united in marriage lawfully, and in accordance with God's Word, you do now confess it.


The Declaration of Consent


The Celebrant says to the woman


N., will you have this man to be your husband; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?


The Woman answers

I will.

The Celebrant says to the man


N., will you have this woman to be your wife; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?


The Man answers


I will.


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The Celebrant then addresses the congregation, saying


Will all of you witnessing these promises do all in your power to uphold these two persons in their marriage?

People We will.


If there is to be a presentation or a giving in marriage, it takes place at this time. See page 437.


A hymn, psalm, or anthem may follow.

The Ministry of the Word

The Celebrant then says to the people The Lord be with you.

People And also with you.

Let us pray.
O gracious and everliving God, you have created us male and female in your image: Look mercifully upon this man and this woman who come to you seeking your blessing, and assist them with your grace, that with true fidelity and steadfast love they may honor and keep the promises and vows they make; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Then one or more of the following passages from Holy Scripture is read. If there is to be a Communion, a passage from the Gospel always concludes the Readings.

Genesis 1:26-28 (Male and female he created them)
Genesis 2:4-9, 15-24 (A man cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh)
Song of Solomon 2:10-13; 8:6-7 (Many waters cannot quench love)
Tobit 8:5b-8 ( New English Bible ) (That she and I may grow old together)
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (Love is patient and kind)
Ephesians 3:14-19 (The Father from whom ever family is named)
Ephesians 5:1-2, 21-33 (Walk in love, as Christ loved us)
Colossians 3:12-17 (Love which binds everything together in harmony)
1 John 4:7-16 (Let us love one another for love is of God)

Between the Readings, a Psalm, hymn, or anthem may be sing or said. Appropriate Psalms are 67, 127, and 128.

When a passage from the Gospel is to be read, all stand, and the Deacon or Minister appointed says The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to ______.

People Glory to you, Lord Christ.

Matthew 5:1-10 (The Beatitudes)
Matthew 5:13-16 (You are the light...Let your light so shine)
Matthew 7:21,24-29 (Like a wise man who built his house upon the rock)
Mark 10:6-9,13-16 (They are no longer two but one)
John 15:9-12 (Love one another as I have loved you)

After the Gospel, the Reader says The Gospel of the Lord.

People Praise to you, Lord Christ.

A homily or other response to the Readings may follow.

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The Marriage

The Man, facing the woman and taking her right hand in his, says

In the Name of God, I, N., take you, N., to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.

Then they loose their hands, and the Woman, still facing the man, takes his right hand in hers, and says

In the Name of God, I, N., take you, N., to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.

They loose their hands.

The Priest may ask God's blessing on a ring or rings as follows

Bless, O Lord, this ring to be a sign of the vows by which this man and this woman have bound themselves to each other; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The giver places the ring on the ring-finger of the other's hand and says

N., I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit ( or in the Name of God).

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Then the Celebrant joins the right hands of husband and wife and says

Now that N. and N. have given themselves to each other by solemn vows, with the joining of hands and the giving and receiving of a ring, I pronounce that they are husband and wife, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder.

People Amen.

The Prayers

All standing, the Celebrant says

Let us pray together in the words our Savior taught us.

People and Celebrant Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

If Communion is to follow, the Lord's Prayer may be omitted here.

Page 429

The Deacon or other person appointed reads the following prayers, to which the People respond, saying, Amen.

If there is not to be a Communion, one or more of the prayers may be omitted.

Let us pray.
Eternal God, creator and preserver of all life, author of salvation, and giver of all grace: Look with favor upon the world you have made, and for which your Son gave his life, and especially upon this man and this woman whom you make one flesh in Holy Matrimony. Amen.
Give them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their common life, that each may be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion in joy. Amen.
Grant that their wills may be so knit together in your will, and their spirits in your Spirit, that they may grow in love and peace with you and one another all the days of their life. Amen.
Give them grace, when they hurt each other, to recognize and acknowledge their fault, and to seek each other's forgiveness and yours. Amen.
Make their life together a sign of Christ's love to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair. Amen.
[[Bestow on them, if it is your will, the gift and heritage of children, and the grace to bring them up to know you, to love you, and to serve you. Amen. ]]
Give them such fulfillment of their mutual affection that they may reach out in love and concern for others. Amen.

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Grant that all married persons who have witnessed these vows may find their lives strengthened and their loyalties confirmed. Amen.
Grant that the bonds of our common humanity, by which all your children are united one to another, and the living to the dead, may be so transformed by your grace, that your will may be done on earth as it is in heaven; where, O Father, with your Son, and the Holy Spirit, you live and reign in perfect unity, now and for ever. Amen.

The Blessing of the Marriage


The people remain standing. The husband and wife kneel, and the Priest says one of the following prayers


Most gracious God, we give you thanks for your tender love in sending Jesus Christ to come among us, to be born of a human mother, and to make the way of the cross to be the way of life. We thank you, also, for consecrating the union of man and woman in his Name. By the power of your Holy Spirit, your out the abundance of your blessing upon this man and this woman. Defend them from every enemy. Lead them into all peace. Let their love for each other be a seal upon their hearts, a mantle about their shoulders, and a crown upon their foreheads. Bless them in their work and in their companionship; in their sleeping and in their waking; in their joys and in their sorrows; in their life and in their death. Finally, in your mercy, bring them to that table where your saints feast for ever in your heavenly home; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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or this  
O God, you have so consecrated the covenant of marriage that in it is represented the spiritual unity between Christ and his Church: Send therefore your blessing upon these your servants, that they may so love, honor, and cherish each other in faithfulness and patience, in wisdom and true godliness, that their home may be a haven of blessing and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The husband and wife still kneeling, the Priest adds this blessing

God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord mercifully with his favor look upon you, and fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace; that you may faithfully live together in this life, and in the age to come have life everlasting. Amen.

The Peace

The Celebrant may say to the people The peace of the Lord be always with you.


People And also with you.


The newly married couple then greet each other, after which greetings may be exchanged throughout the congregation.


When Communion is not to follow, the wedding party leaves the church. A hymn, psalm, or anthem may be sung, or instrumental music may be played.


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At the Eucharist


The liturgy then continues with the Offertory, at which the newly married couple may present the offerings of bread and wine.

Preface of Marriage

At the Communion, it is appropriate that the newly married couple receive Communion first, after the ministers.

In place of the usual postcommunion prayer, the following is said

O God, the giver of all that is true and lovely and gracious: We give you thanks for binding us together in these holy mysteries of the Body and Blood of your Son Jesus Christ. Grant that by your Holy Spirit, N. and N., now joined in Holy Matrimony, may become one in heart and soul, live in fidelity and peace, and obtain those eternal joys prepared for all who love you; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


As the wedding party leaves the church, a hymn, psalm, or anthem may be sung, or instrumental music may be played.


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My husband and I were married in the Episcopal church that I grew up in, using this ceremony. Here's the thing. Lots of people go to weddings. It's a fun party, right? I know that we printed out the ceremony, including the verses that we chose, and the appropiate responses from the witnesses. I'm pretty sure that most of our guests read along and responded as written.

Did you see this part?

The Celebrant then addresses the congregation, saying
Will all of you witnessing these promises do all in your power to uphold these two persons in their marriage?
People We will.

We all pretty much know the vows that the new husband and new wife make. Some people even change them around (or write entirely new ones) to skirt around things that are "too hard" or "not liberated enough". But what about the one that the guests make to do all in [their] power to uphold these two persons in their marriage?

Do people really do that? In my experience, the vast majority of people think that "being a good friend" means encouraging their "friend" to do whatever will make them happy. Right now. Even if it's selfish and not in the best interest of the friend's family and loved ones or upholding their marriage.

There's a 50% divorce rate. It's okay, it's normal. People change. On to the next one, on to the next chance at "happiness". Things get tough? It's okay, that's no way to live. Move on out, see your kids when you can, write a check to their mom each month, and you'll be considered a "good enough dad". OR, kick that loser out. He doesn't have any right to hold you accountable to anything, He's not your parent, he can't tell you what to do! Take the kids, you're the mother, they'll be just fine seeing him every other weekend... Don't go compromising or putting anyone else first (especially your spouse!). You sure don't want to be seen as a doormat. Stand up for yourself! If you don't look out for yourself, who will?

A person who is determined to work on her marriage shouldn't be seen as especially admirable or particularly strong. She should be normal. She should be supported by her friends and bolstered up when things go from rough to really difficult. She should be encouraged when things seem nearly hopeless. But she shouldn't be wierd. Her friends should not be handing her business cards for their own divorce lawyers or offering advice that worked for them in their own divorces. They should not be encouraging her to gather evidence or get down to the courthouse asap to get custody, alimony, and child support orders in - to make sure that she'll be "okay". A person who has left his marriage should not be encouraged or celebrated. He should be counseled and lovingly reminded of his vows. He should be supported by his friends to make every attempt to work things out with his wife, not pushed into the arms of whatever lonely woman is available. A man that goes back to his wife should not be seen as weak, spineless, or "whipped". A marriage that has been rescued is something to celebrate, and, way too often, it's just not.














Sigh. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

3 comments:

Gauntlets said...

I think about this. I think often about the reality that all of my friends' marriages are my problem because we are all knit together in the wedding bond of Christ and His Church. So, I pray for my friends' marriages, because it's most often all that I can do.

MooreMama said...

You're a good friend, Gauntlets.

Untamed Shrew said...

We got marriage counseling when I was pregnant with Baby 1. My husband was so ashamed at the time, snaking through halls via obscure routes to avoid being "caught" by a professor. We've both matured since then. People go to counseling because they care about their marriage, not because they are failures.