[Image Credit: the knot.com]
Weddings . . . it is a joy for me to attend and witness these occasions. I must confess, however, that I find it difficult to find inspiration within the confines of the Gift Registry. My ardent desire is to offer the Bride and Groom a deep and meaningful gift — one that will encourage and strengthen them through the years ahead, in remaining faithful to the Covenant of Marriage and to their Marriage Vows.
Herewith is the Marriage Meditation that I bestow upon the Bride and Groom. Along with the Meditation, I also offer two tangible gifts: One represents the “Sacred” and one represents the “Mundane.”
The Vocation of Marriage is both Sacred and Eternal. However, in practical terms, we live out our Vocation of Marriage in the Daily and Mundane.
May we who enter the Covenant of Marriage faithfully live into the Vocation of Marriage: “a long obedience in the same direction.”
To the Bride & Groom,
In Joyous Anticipation of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony
[Image Credit: wilsonmar.com]
A Marriage Blessing,
by Margot Blair Payne, 2012
May your covenant with each other be a reflection of God’s covenant with us.
May your life together be a pleasing, fragrant offering to God.
May you be surrounded by the encouragement and support of the Body of Christ, your family, and your friends.
May God bless your shared hopes and dreams, as you seek to honor God in your common life.
May God bless your house and home, as you offer shelter and hospitality to others.
May God grant you long life, health, and many rich memories of your life together.
May God strengthen you, as you enter into the vocation and sacred bond of marriage.
May these meditations and prayers sustain you, through the years:
Prayers for a Marriage,
from The Book of Common Prayer [1979 Version]
“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 made 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.
Give them such fulfillment of their mutual affection that they may reach out in love and concern for others. 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 Holy Spirit, you live and reign in perfect unity, now and for ever. Amen.”
Excerpts from A Wedding Sermon,
from Letters & Papers from Prison, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Touchstone, 1971 Edition.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945, was a Christian theologian, Lutheran pastor, martyr, and one of the most significant witnesses of the 20th century.
” . . .The desire for earthly bliss, which you want to find in one another, and in which, to quote the medieval song, one is the comfort of the other in body and in soul — that desire is justified before God and man . . . .
. . . .Marriage is more than your love for each other:
It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which he wills to perpetuate the human race, until the end of time.
In your love, you see only your two selves in the world but, in marriage, you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom.
In your love, you see only the heaven of your happiness but, in marriage, you are placed at a post of responsibility toward the world and mankind.
Your love is your own private possession but marriage is more than something personal – it is a status, an office.
Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.
As you first gave the ring to one another and have now received it a second time from the hand of the pastor, so love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God.
As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of marriage above the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love.
It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”
A Hymn: By Gracious Powers:
text by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, music composed by R. Shulz-Widmar
By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered, and confidently waiting, come what may,
We know that God is with us night and morning, and never fails to greet us each new day.
Yet is this heart by its old foe tormented, still evil days bring burdens hard to bear:
O give our frightened souls the sure salvation for which, O Lord, you taught us to prepare.
And when this cup you give is filled to brimming with bitter suffering, hard to understand,
We take it thankfully and without trembling, out of so good and so beloved a hand.
Yet when again in this same world you give us the joy we had, the brightness of your Sun,
We shall remember all the days we lived through, and our whole life shall then be yours alone.
An excerpt from the book, Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies, by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, Brazos Press, 2009.
“For all its joys, any intense friendship or marriage has aspects that can seem burdensome.
There is not only an investment of time, but also an investment of self that is required for a relationship to exist and grow and flourish.
Even more difficult than the physical accommodations are the accommodations of identity: from the perspective of individual “freedom,” to be in a relationship of love will change us and cost us.
It will require us to restructure our priorities.
It may compromise our plans.
It will demand sacrifice.
It will alter the pattern of our thoughts and desires and may transform our vision of the world.
It’s not just ‘your life’ or ‘my life’ anymore — it’s ‘ours.’
Seen in this light, it can seem that staying at arm’s length and not engaging or investing would seem easier and safer — even if ultimately unhappier — than risking openness to love’s transforming power and answering its claims on us.
Sometimes marriage or other friendships feel euphoric and energizing: other times, they are tedious, empty, wearying routines, or just plain work.
The point is that being committed to any love relationship takes daily nurturing, daily effort, and daily practices that build it up.
Neglecting these will slowly break the relationship down.
Nurturing grudges or selfish claims instead will erode it and make us resentful of a relationship that now feels like a suffocating trap.
Kathleen Norris once said that married love is “eternal, but it’s also daily, about as daily and unromantic as housekeeping.”
It is through daily practices and disciplines, whether we feel like doing them or not, that the decision to love is renewed and refreshed, and the commitment of love is kept alive.”