Let’s get married! This is a long post (again) but it shouldn’t take you any longer to sit through an actual ceremony. It’ll be fun! Let’s go.
It just so happens that the preacher sent us an email with the whole ceremony written out, which is really handy as I’m actually writing this post 5 years after the wedding. As I re-read it, I don’t remember it at all. I must have been so high on adrenaline, his words just flew by in a flash.
The marriage between my husband and I was unique in that it was rather frowned-upon in the Churches of Christ to re-marry. My husband had married once before me, and had since divorced. …but not before fathering three children. The C of C minister that married us knew the situation and he did address it briefly in his sermon. I remember him saying to us in our pre-wedding meetings, “Life is like a scrambled egg. Once it’s scrambled, you can’t unscramble it.” He was/is a very wise, thoughtful, kind and wonderful man. We may have our ideological differences now, but that does not change my admiration of him.
There’s been a hang-up in this wedding. I returned from the wedding party pictures with a bit of a situation. My husband’s children did not want to participate. At the time this was devastating to me, but in retrospect, I respect them for it. We had little flower baskets for the girls to drop petals from. We handed these off to some of my husband’s close family members, Lynn and Glenn.
(Dad hands off the bride as stoicly as a dad can. We take our places at the altar, and wait for our minister to begin.)
“We are gathered here today in the presence of God and this welcome company on purpose: to join together Emily and her husband in holy matrimony, a sacred and honorable estate not to be entered into lightly but reverently. Therefore, let us turn reverently to God to ask for His present and future blessing.”
(Yes, despite the overwhelming theme of this blog, I did have a Christian wedding with all the traditional Christian practices, including prayer!)
(The Churches of Christ believe that religious music should be a-capella—voices only—because the bible’s first-century church did not mention the use of musical instruments in worship. For the most part, my wedding was a-capella to keep with the tradition. Leading singing was my dad’s primary role at my church growing up, so of course it seemed only right to have him lead us in song for my wedding. He is a very good song leader with the highest of performance standards. (And, yes! I actually made all of my wedding guests attempt to sing along! Which worked to varying degrees…) It was an outdoor wedding, and I knew a lot of attendees would not be familiar with singing, so to accommodate them, I had my dearest friend play harp at my wedding in order to help them. It was a rather unconventional decision, but I am so glad I did it. She did marvelously. My dad practiced with her before the wedding; he’d said, “her music was so beautiful that when she played the first few bars, I nearly forgot to sing.”)
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” –Colossians, 3:12-14
Minister’s Challenge to the Couple
“I begin with the same words I plan to conclude with. They are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ regarding marriage:
“‘Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.’ (Matthew 19:6)
“God is the active agent here. Much planning has preceded this joyous event, beginning on the sixth day of creation. Listen again to Jesus:
“‘…at the beginning, the Creator made them male and female and said, For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to he wife and the two will become one flesh…’ (Matthew 19:4-5)
“The same God who planned the existence of Emily and her husband also planned the very existence of marriage. He did this on purpose. He planned for the husband and wife to love and live together ‘til death do they part. Friends and family, we are not witnessing an accident here. Life-long commitments are made on purpose, not on accident. It is not an accident when people stick with each other for good.
“Maybe her husband and Emily’s first encounter on line (in a chat room) seemed like an accident, but nothing that happened from that point forward was purely accidental. Their first date was at an art museum and they dated for two and a half years.
“Among the qualities that attracted them to each other, according to both of them, was their openness. You see, God’s perfect plan for marriage never involves perfect people, just as God’s perfect plan of salvation does not involve perfect people. The key is to be open and truthful from the start about our imperfections. Her husband and Emily have come to each other with past heartaches, struggles and shortcomings—but not with pretense.
“Her husband and Emily, openness is essential for meeting each other where you really are. But marriage is more than merely a full acceptance of each other for who you are – it’s a new creation (two becoming one) with a new mission.
“The same is true with Christianity itself. The Bible says, ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christianity is not about changing the past. It’s about changing us. And Husband and Emily, the same is true of marriage.
“They say that men marry hoping she won’t change, but she does; and women marry hoping he will change, but he doesn’t.
“The truth is, we all change and so do our relationships. In marriage, two people accept each other for who they really are and their new marriage points a new way forward, together. In marriage, we accept God’s terms as grounds for a fresh start. This new way forward, this fresh start must begin with openness and a full acceptance of each other, but not as an excuse for staying that way! Husband and Emily, allow God to make you and your marriage into a new creation. Grow together in love, trust and virtue. Compliment each other as you grow.
“I don’t mean only that you should give each other compliments. I mean, let your individual qualities compliment your union. You both bring different gifts to the table, some fun and others frustrating, that will make each of you better people by being together.
“You have a lifetime together to pursue what the passage from the apostle Paul said:
“‘Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…’ (Colossians 3:12)
“Humility is the tough one here. Ogden Nash once wrote:
“‘To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup;
When you’re wrong, admit it;
When you’re right, shut up!’
“Let us continue listening to Paul:
“‘Bear with one another and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another…’ (Colossians 3:13a)
“Yes, you will have grievances against one another. Count on that.
“‘Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity.’ (Colossians 3:13b-14)
“This is God’s purposeful plan: Two imperfect people bound together in perfect unity.”
“Husband and Emily, you have some words of promise to give to each other.
(My husband said all of these things as well, but I just put down my version below.)
“Emily, make the word ‘wife’ mean something beautiful for your husband. Emily, today you claim to that honorable title ‘wife’ with a promise. With your husband’s hand in yours, repeat after me:
“I Emily, take you, Husband, to be my wedded husband; to have, hold and protect from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, honor and cherish, forsaking all others as long as we both shall live.
“May you both rest secure in these promises.”
“What do you offer each other as symbols of your love? The wedding ring is made of gold, representing the quality of purity, often refined by fire. It is round, reminding us that marriage has no earthly end. We also wear wedding rings on our left hand, the hand closest to the heart.
“Emily, as you place the ring on your husband’s left hand, repeat after me:
“As a token and pledge of my steadfast love for you, with this ring I take you to be my husband.
(Okay, let me just go off a bit of a tangent here about our rings. My husband’s ring is actually a puzzle ring! It is it two pieces of gold that are linked together like a chain, but they can fold together to form one single ring, like you see in the image above. Read up on the mythology of puzzle rings, it is so cool. My ring I essentially chose for myself, and I am so glad my husband was amenable to my selection. He went through a bit of a charade saying that ‘I didn’t get that ring because, reasons…’ but he got the ring. I love it. It’s my favorite piece of jewelry. I chose it because of it’s uniqueness. It has an art-deco style, with something a little different than the standard solitaire; sapphire adornment on either side of the diamond.)
“Marriage is God’s gift, not just to two people but to the entire community. Husband and Emily, this gift is not to you two alone. Let your marriage be a blessing to others, especially your children. In gratitude for God’s gift of eternal hope, Husband and Emily will share in communion. The bread and juice represent the greatest giftof all – the body and blood of Jesus, broken and poured out for our forgiveness, giving us hope.
“Husband and Emily also recognize the generous role many of you have played in bringing them to this moment. God is the ultimate gift-giver, but others have been part of God’s generosity. Therefore, following their communion, the bride and groom, wedding party, the parents and grandparents will bring flowers forward and place them in this vase as a combined beautiful symbol of the long legacy of gift-giving that led to this day.
“This is the body of Christ, broken on your behalf.
“This is the blood of Christ, poured out for you, on purpose.
“Dear Heavenly Father, we are grateful first of all to you for your compassion, kindness and purposeful patience. We need them. Thank you, Lord, for the forgiveness of our sins and for the foundation you laid for a new start with you. Where there has been brokenness, please bring continued healing. Where there has been despair, give us hope. Where there has been sorrow, replace it with joy. Father, the phrase ‘from this day forward’ applies to us all. ‘From this day forward’ is all any of us have. Help us to grow into your glory, from this day forward. What lies behind us cannot be changed, but we can change. Please change us for the better. Change us in conformity to your character and will. We love because you first loved us. Thank you for loving us so sacrificially and fully. In Jesus’ name, amen (paraphrased from memory).”
“For in-as-much as Husband and Emily have consented together to live in holy wedlock and have pledged their faith to each other, and have declared the same before friends and family and before God, I now pronounce them husband and wife in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
“Let’s give Jesus the last word:
“‘Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.’ (Matthew 19:6)
Mr. and Mrs. T