This liturgy is for all kinds of Partnerships that are honoured by God, for he loves and cherishes the commitment of anyone to anyone else. What he wants is fidelity. STE especially affirms all kinds of partnership and marriage.
Organ – Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring or Clark – Trumpet Tune
Welcome and Introduction
In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
We gather here (t: Jerusalem)
We gather here, we gather now,
drawn by the love we know and share.
We come to celebrate in our joy
the union of this special pair.
To them our hearts reach out with love,
on them the light of heav’n above
shines down in grace abundant and free
to bless them both eternally.
And we who join to wish them well,
offer them both our love and pray’r
that they may walk in fullness of life
the journey they have come to share.
That they may know if storms come near
that they have friends and fam’ly here
for we commit ourselves to pray
and love and cherish them each day.
Susan Sayers (born 1946)
Tune: “Jerusalem (Parry)”
We have come together in the presence of God
to give thanks for the sacraments of marriage and partnership,
to ask God’s forgiveness for all that has been amiss
and to rejoice together and to ask for God’s blessing.
As our Lord Jesus Christ was himself a guest
at the wedding in Cana of Galilee,
so through his Holy Spirit he is with us now.
Partnership and Marriage are gifts of God in creation
and a means of his grace;
it is given that a couple
may comfort and help each other;
living faithfully together in times of need as well as in plenty.
It is given that with delight and tenderness
they may know each other in love.
In Partnership and Marriage a couple belong together
and live life in the community:
it is a way of life created and hallowed by God,
that all should honour.
Therefore we pray together
that, strengthened and guided by God,
we may continue to fulfil his purpose for our lives together.
Let us pause and recall that shared experience, and in the silence of our hearts offer it all to God.
Silence is kept for reflection on the years that have passed and on shared experiences, good and bad.
Let us hear the word of the Lord
Song of Solomon 2.10-13; 8.6,7
My beloved speaks and says to me:
‘Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtle dove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.’
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.
If one offered for love
all the wealth of one’s house,
it would be utterly scorned.
This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.
God of All living (t: Morning has broken)
God of all living,
Father, we praise you,
Full of Thanksgiving,
For so much love;
Now in this wedding,
Come down among us,
Pour out your blessing,
With love’s true splendour,
Father, delight us,
Each giving honour,
And may the sharing,
Of this sweet union
Deepen our caring,
May there be children,
Fruit of our loving,
True men and women,
With faith beside;
Grant us your keeping
In all our future,
Your love caressing
Bridegroom and bride.
Canon Michael Walker
Let us hear again, from the word of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.
Fr. Simon Rundell, Vicar
Love Divine, all loves excelling (t: Blaenwern)
Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down,
Fix in us your humble dwelling,
All thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, you are all compassion
Boundless love that makes us whole;
Visit us with your salvation,
Enter every trembling soul.
Come, almighty to deliver,
Let us all your grace receive;
Suddenly return, and never,
Never more your temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve you as your hosts above,
Pray, and praise thee, without ceasing,
Glory in your perfect love.
Finish then your new creation,
Pure and sinless let us be;
Let us see your great salvation,
Perfect in eternity;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before you,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise!
Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Reading: Marriage joins two people in the circle of its love
Marriage is a commitment to life, the best that two people can find and bring out in each other. It offers opportunities for sharing and growth that no other relationship can equal. It is a physical and an emotional joining that is promised for a lifetime.
Within the circle of its love, marriage encompasses all of life’s most important relationships. A wife and a husband are each other’s best friend, confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and critic. And there may come times when one partner is heartbroken or ailing, and the love of the other may resemble the tender caring of a parent for a child.
Marriage deepens and enriches every facet of life. Happiness is fuller, memories are fresher, commitment is stronger, even anger is felt more strongly, and passes away more quickly.
Marriage understands and forgives the mistakes life is unable to avoid. It encourages and nurtures new life, new experiences, and new ways of expressing a love that is deeper than life.
When two people pledge their love and care for each other in marriage, they create a spirit unique unto themselves which binds them closer than any spoken or written words. Marriage is a promise, a potential made in the hearts of two people who love each other and takes a lifetime to fulfil.
Prayers of Commitment and Thanksgiving
taken from Jim Cotter’s Covenant of Profound and Special Friendship
Let us all say these words of commitment to our partners, both here with us and those gathered on a farther shore.
In the wonderful mystery of God
Love-making Spirit between us
Pain-bearing presence beside us
Life-giving Future before us
You, my soul-mate have been given to me
to be cherished in a profound and special friendship
to share with you all that I have and all that I am
with a loyalty to you that comes before all others.
Of my own free will, I chose to share my life with you
With and in that greater Love
and in the presence of our family and friends
I, [state your Christian name, affirm, renew and deepen my promise
to honour you as God’s home
and to be loyal to you,
and full of faith in you
our life-day long.
We give thanks for the sacraments of partnership and marriage, draw upon our treasured memories and look forward to the promise of heaven.
We say together the prayer of St Francis:
us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, union;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, Grant that we may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Francis of Assisi
Dear Lord & Father of mankind (t: Repton)
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind;
In purer lives thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.
In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow thee.
O sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with thee
The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love!
Drop thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of thy peace.
Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm!
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)
Blessing of Rings
The wedding ring is the outward and the visible sign of an inward and spiritual bond which unites two hearts in endless love. A circle: the emblem of eternity; In gold, the type of what is least tarnished and most enduring: it is to show how lasting and imperishable is the faith you once pledged and which you all continue to honour.
Let your rings, a fit token of that which is unending, continue to be to you both a symbol of the value, the purity, and the constancy of the sacrament of marriage, and the seal of the vows in which you have pledged your most solemn and sacred honour.
Let us gather together, together as couples, and in memory of those that we love and see no longer, so that we may be forever blessed by God’s unending, every-circling love.
Heavenly Father, lover of all mankind, we ask you to continue to bless these relationships joined together in the sacraments of partnership and marriage. Pour out your love upon them all, and all those whose lives they touch.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord
The rings are sprinkled
God the Giver of Life,
God the Bearer of Pain
God the Maker of love
bless, preserve and keep you
The divine light illuminate you,
and shine out even from the cells of your being
guiding you in truth and peace
and making you strong in faith and wisdom
that you may grow together in this life
and that the love which endures
carved and polished like a diamond,
the love that can never be overcome,
may it bear you even beyond death itself
and transfigure you all to glory
And the blessing of God, +Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be upon you all, this day and always. Amen
Organ – Mendelsohn – Wedding March