Friday, October 18, 2013

Service for an Age of Marriage Equality

The following were the words for the service at our wedding:


THE MARRIAGE OF
STEWART HAMMER AND ALFREDO LANIER
Saturday, September 28, 2013

at The First Parish of Stow and Acton

The Rev. Tom Rosiello, officiant

OPENING WORDS

It is my privilege to officiate at this wedding. Until just a few years ago,
when two individuals of the same sex who loved each other and were committed to each other wished to make a legal commitment to each other, they were denied that opportunity to marry. But so much has changed in our society and for the institution of marriage.

Stew and Al, today we celebrate not only your love and commitment to each other, but also equality in the institution of marriage. Here in Massachusetts and now in many other states and several other countries, we are able to recognize your the love as a legal marriage with all the same legal rights, benefits and responsibilities as any other marriage.

We pause in gratitude to give thanks for those whose struggle made this day possible. At the same time, let us not forget that the struggle continues; that most gay and lesbian folk are still not able to marry. May the experience we share here today help to advance the right of marriage for all who seek its benefits and wish to take on its responsibilities.

Yes, much has changed, but much more remains the same. It is, as it always has been, one of life’s richest blessings when two people find each other, fall in love and know that they have found the person with whom they want to spend their life.

In your case, that happened a quite while ago.  Today is more of a celebration of what already is than what will be. It is a celebration of the love that has grown up between you over more than 40 years and united you to each other; a love that I am sure has known good times and faced life’s challenges. I am sure it has been a wonderful journey during which you have come to truly know and understand each other, as well as to love each other and that is as it should be.

Marriage is not a commitment made lightly or unadvisedly, but one entered into reverently and thoughtfully, and with the knowledge that true and abiding love is life’s highest achievement and God’s most precious gift.

PRAYER

O God, spirit of life, source of love,
May we be ever grateful for the many gifts
Which are ours to share:

For the joy of friendship,
the bonds of family, 
and the many opportunities to learn,
grow and contribute to our world. 

Today, we are especially grateful for
that most perfect gift, the gift of love,
which enshrines and ennobles all
our human experience. 

It is love that can bear all things,
believe all things,
hope all things
and endure all things. 

It is love that can fill the simplest of experiences with
the great joy and love that can bring the most profound comfort,
even in the most difficult of times.

May that powerful love,
pure and honest,
respectful and holy,
embrace you this day and
continue to grow each day in your lives. Amen. 


DECLARATION OF INTENT

Stewart and Alfredo, you have lived your lives together committed to each other.  So now I ask you together, are you ready to pledge your mutual love, respect and fidelity, and be joined together in marriage?

 IF SO PLEASE RESPOND: "WE ARE"


READING
(From the words of the 19th century Unitarian Minister Theodore Parker (slightly adapted)
It takes years to marry completely two hearts, even of the most loving and well assorted. A happy wedlock is a long falling in love. Young persons think love belongs only to the brown-haired and crimson-cheeked. So it does for its beginning, but the golden marriage is a part of love which youth knows nothing of. A perfect and complete marriage, where wedlock is everything you could ask and the ideal of marriage becomes actual, is not common, perhaps as rare as perfect personal beauty. People are married fractionally, now a small fraction, then a large fraction. Very few are married totally, and they only after some forty or fifty years of gradual approach and experiment. Such a large and sweet fruit is a complete marriage that it needs a long summer to ripen in, and then a long winter to mellow and season it. But a real, happy marriage of love is one of the things so very handsome that if the sun were, as the Greek poets fabled, a God, he might stop the world and hold it still now and then in order to look all day long on some example thereof, and feast his eyes on such a spectacle.
 EXCHANGE OF VOWS

The meaning of marriage
begins in the giving and receiving of words.
You cannot join yourself to another
without giving your word. 
And this must be an unconditional giving,
for in joining yourself to another
you join yourself to the unknown.
You have already walked a long way together,
But you still have a journey ahead.
You each still have hope, dreams, plans.
Some will become realities
and others will not.
The truth is that you cannot know
the road you will walk together.
 What you commit to today
in the vows which you will now make
is the way in which you
will together walk each step along that road.

VOWS
(please repeat after me)
I Stewart, take you Alfredo,
to be none other than yourself,
Loving all that I have come to know about you in the past 41 years
and trusting what I still may not yet know,
I will continue to respect your integrity,
be faithful to you,
and have faith in your abiding love for me
through all the years we have together
and  in all that those years may bring.

 I, Alfredo take you Stewart
to be none other than yourself,
Loving all that I have come to know about you in the past 41 years
and trusting what I still may not yet know,
I will  continue to respect your integrity,
be faithful to you
and have faith in your abiding love for me
through all the years we have together
and in all that those years may bring.

BLESSING OF RINGS

O God, source of all blessing, bless these rings and those who will wear them. Like the precious metal of which these rings are made, may your love remain the most precious possession of your life.  Just as these rings will encircle your fingers, may loyalty, commitment and mutual respect encircle your relationship.  May these rings always be a visible sign of your love and devotion to each other.

EXCHANGE OF RINGS

As you place the ring on your partner’s finger, please repeat after me:

Alfredo, I give you this ring as a sign of my love and faithfulness to you. 
Stewart, I give you this ring as a sign of my love and faithfulness to you.

 BENEDICTION

This marriage is an event in a lifetime of love.  Neither I, nor all of society, can truly join you today. By your words this day, and by the love you shared every day for all these years, you have joined yourselves together.


We pray that you will be equal to the demands of all your tomorrows. May you keep the promises you have made this day and be a blessing and comfort to each other. May your marriage always be a shared adventure, rich in moments of serenity as well as times of excitement, strengthened by challenges, uplifted by achievements, and enriched by mutual respect.  May you find in each other companionship as well as love, understanding as well as compassion, healthy challenges as well as easy agreements.  May your lives be full and rich, not so much with material things, but with those things that matter most: family, friends good health and a life of purpose.  May your joys be many, your sorrows few and your love everlasting. AMEN

PRONOUNCEMENT

Stewart and Alfredo:  As you have declared your consent before God and those gathered here, I, by the authority vested in me by this Unitarian Universalist church and by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts declare you to be legally married and entitled to all rights and privileges of that institution.


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9 comments:

  1. Congratulations. Good for you guys!

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  2. Wow! What beautiful vows. Congratulations again, and may you experience many more happy years together in the future.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA

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  3. So beautiful! Congratulations to you both!

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  4. Beautiful vows. I am so happy for you.

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  5. Your vows brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful. Heartfelt congratulations to you both. May you have many more years of wedded bliss!

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  6. Congratulations, again! And what a lovely liturgy!

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  7. Congratulations, again, on a great occasion and a lovely liturgy.

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