Twelve years ago, David and I exchanged vows before our friends, our family and our God. So much went into the planning of that day. So many details. So many considerations. And even though I remember the food at the reception being tasty and I remember how my photographer protected me from complaining guests like I was a celebrity and I remember how we enjoyed the taste of champagne in those moments in the limousine not long after being pronounced husband and wife, it is the vows we exchanged that I often ponder.
In fact, those vows are here with me as we celebrate our 12th year together. Vows that we wrote. Actually, the entire wedding ceremony that we created. Together. To reflect what we believed. To reflect what we hoped our lives would reflect.
Those vows were our ideals. My ideals. What I hoped marriage would be.
We are still working on them. (and that is a good thing because that is what marriage is; working on the vows you exchange on your wedding day).
And so, as I remember this day, and celebrate the life I began with my husband, I include parts of our ceremony here. Because they are as relevant today as they were the day we spoke them. Perhaps more so.
The Call to Worship (Opening Words)
Judith and David welcome you and invite you to enter into the joy, the beauty and the reverence of these moments of worship, of witness and of celebration with them. We are gathered here to worship God, to witness the marriage vows of Judith and David, and to celebrate the love that brings them together and binds them to each other and to God. We welcome you to this wedding ceremony and we thank you for your prayers and your support as Judith and David enter into his holy covenant, joined together by God and equipped for the journey of Christian marriage by their faith in Christ, who serves as their example of how to love and serve one another in all circumstances. This union is not to be entered into lightly, but reverently, and in communion with God. Let us worship God together.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your presence here today and for your fingerprints that mark this service and the lives of all who are gathered here to celebrate the marriage of Judith and David. We rejoice, Oh God, that you know each of us in real ways. You know the number of hairs on our heads, you know each of us by name, and you love us more than we can truly understand.
We acknowledge, Lord, that we love because you first loved us and it is that love that brings Judith and David here today. We ask your blessing upon them as they speak their vows before you and this gathering of family and friends. God grant them grace to serve one another in love, and give them hearts that bend toward you so that your Word will be a lamp unto their feet as they walk this new path to which you have called them – this, their new life together. Let them always cling to your promises, Lord, your promise to give them hope and a future and to be with them always, in all circumstances, whatever turn this new path may take.
Judith and David, let us consider for a moment this profound and holy mystery into which you are about to enter.
You gather before your family and friends to mark the beginning of a new journey together; a journey of Christian marriage. Christian marriage is more than this wedding ceremony. It is a commitment to each other and to God. It is a call to love and to serve one another in humility. It is a promise to fulfill the commitment made this day.
It begins today, with this ceremony, but the commitment and the promises are far reaching. Though such promises are spoken, they are not promises in word only, but promises of action – giving, receiving, forgiving, serving, loving. Marriage is not about a joining together, but about a transforming, an abandoning of old ways and old lives and creating a new one, a better one, together.
Much like a profession of faith, marriage vows are made with and before God and they embody hope, assurance and joy. Like life, marriage will bring with it joys and sorrows, celebrations and frustrations, certainty and doubt. But if you look first to God and then to each other, he will provide you with faith enough to be strong and strength enough to be faithful. Faithful to him, faithful to each other, faithful to your vows.
Remember the words sung today, All to Jesus I Surrender.All means all. All means your marriage and all that your marriage is and will be. As you both acknowledge, marriage is another step in the journey of faith. Your love for each other and for Christ, and your willingness to surrender to him in marriage as in life, and to allow his love to flow through you, will move you closer to God and to each other, and make this act of faith possible. For with God, all things are possible.
This was the start of our wedding ceremony. And it reflects the beginning of our life together. Our marriage.
In my next post, I will share our vows and some reflections on the ideals that vows take on the day you exchange them and what they mean after the wedding day.
May you celebrate the bond you share with your spouse. Your love is a reflection of your thoughts, your deeds, your words.