The muffled sounds we are hearing is that there will be approval of same sex blessings in the Episcopal Church (USA). The other muffled sounds are that a rewrite of the BCP is in the works. The "cone of silence" has been lowered on any proposed language for same sex blessings. In order to break the cone of silence, I have the following proposal for the Marriage Rite. This involves some simple changes to the existing Rite in the Book of Common Prayer. I believe this addresses some of the possible issues we may encounter as we move to include persons or non persons of varying personal or non personal sexual preferences. In addition, by carefully including optional language we will be able to create a Rite that will not have to be rewritten for many years, thereby saving countless Church dollars and trees. (My apologies to the BCP)
Marriage Rite: Concerning the Service
Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant (words deleted) in the presence of God. In the Episcopal Church it is required that one, at least, of the parties must be a baptized Christian; that the ceremony be attested by at least two witnesses. A priest or a bishop normally presides at the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage, because such ministers alone have the function of pronouncing the nuptial blessing, and of celebrating the Holy Eucharist. When both a bishop and a priest are present and officiating, the bishop should pronounce the blessing and preside at the Eucharist. A deacon, or an assisting priest, may deliver the charge, ask for the Declaration of Consent, read the Gospel, and perform other assisting functions at the Eucharist. Where it is permitted by civil law that deacons may perform marriages, and no priest or bishop is available, a deacon may use the service which follows, omitting the nuptial blessing which follows The Prayers. It is desirable that the Lessons from the Old Testament and the Epistles be read by lay persons. In the opening exhortation, the full names of those to be married are declared. Subsequently, only their Christian names are used unless no Christian name is available. Additional Directions are on page (tba).
The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage
At the time appointed, those to be married, with their witnesses, assemble in the church or some other appropriate place. During their entrance, a hymn, psalm, or anthem may be sung, or instrumental music may be played. Then the Celebrant, facing the people and those to be married, with one or more to the right and one or more to the left, addresses the congregation and says
Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of this/these man/men/other and this/these woman/women/others in Holy Matrimony. The bond(s) and covenant(s) of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people. The union of creatures in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord (optional language). Therefore marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.
Into this holy union N.N. and N.N. (and N.N. etc if needed) now come to be joined. If any of you can show just cause why they may not lawfully be married, speak now; or else for ever hold your peace.
Then the Celebrant says to the persons to be married
I require and charge you, here in the presence of God, that if any of you know any reason why you may not be united in marriage lawfully, and in accordance with God’s Word, you do now confess it.
The Declaration of Consent
The Celebrant says to the one or ones on the left N.(s), will you have this (fill in the blank) to be your (fill in the blank); to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love (fill in the blank), comfort (fill in the blank), honor and keep (fill in the blank), in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to him/her/them as long as you (word deleted) shall live? The one or ones on the left answers or answer I/We will.
The Celebrant says to the one or ones on the right N.(s), will you have this (fill in the blank) to be your (fill in the blank); to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love (fill in the blank), comfort (fill in the blank), honor and keep (fill in the blank), in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to him/her/them as long as you (word deleted) shall live? The one or ones on the right answers or answer I/We will.
The Celebrant then addresses the congregation, saying
Will all of you witnessing these promises do all in your power to uphold these (fill in the blank) in their marriage?
If there is to be a presentation or a giving in marriage, it takes place at this time. See page 437.
A hymn, psalm, or anthem may follow.
The Ministry of the Word
The Celebrant then says to the people
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray. O gracious and everliving God, you have created us (words deleted) in your image: Look mercifully upon this/these (fill in the blanks) and this/these (fill in the blanks) who come to you seeking your blessing, and assist them with your grace, that with true fidelity and steadfast love they may honor and keep the promises and vows they make; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Then one or more of the following passages from Holy Scripture are to be read. If there is to be a Communion, a passage from the Gospel always concludes the Readings.
Song of Solomon 2:10 13; 8:6 7 (Many waters cannot quench love)
1 Corinthians 13:1 13 (Love is patient and kind)
Ephesians 5:1 2, 21 33 (Walk in love, as Christ loved us)
Colossians 3:12 17 (Love which binds everything together in harmony)
1 John 4:7 16 (Let us love one another for love is of God)
These readings may be substituted.
Daniel 1:9 (Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs) (KJV)
1 Samuel 18:1 "...the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul" (KJV)
2 Samuel 1:26 "I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women."
Ruth 1:16-17 "And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me."
Between the Readings, a Psalm, hymn, or anthem may be sung or said.
Appropriate Psalm is 67.
When a passage from the Gospel is to be read, all stand, and the Deacon or Minister appointed says
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to ___________.
Glory to you, Lord Christ.
Matthew 5:1 10 (The Beatitudes)
Matthew 5:13 16 (You are the light...Let your light so shine)
Matthew 7:21, 24 29 (Like a wise man who built his house upon the rock)
John 15:9 12 (Love one another as I have loved you)
After the Gospel, the Reader says The Gospel of the Lord.
People Praise to you, Lord Christ.
A homily or other response to the Readings may follow.
The one/ones on the right, facing the one/ones on the left and taking right hands, says/say In the Name of God, I/We, N.(s), take you, N.(s), to be my (fill in the blank), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow. Then they loose their hands, and the one or ones on the left, still facing the one or ones on the right, takes hands, and says/say In the Name of God, I/We, N.(s), take you, N.(s), to be my (fill in the blank), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow. They loose their hands.
The Priest may ask God’s blessing on a ring or rings as follows
Bless, O Lord, this ring/rings to be a sign of the vows by which these have bound themselves; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. The giver/givers places/place the ring/rings on the ring finger/fingers of the other’s hand/hands and says/say N.(s), I/We give you this ring/rings as symbol/symbols of my/our vow, and with all that I/We am/are, and all that I/We have, I/We honor you, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (or in the Name of God).
Then the Celebrant joins the right hands of all and says Now that N. and N. (and N. etc) have given themselves to each other by solemn vows, with the joining of hands and the giving and receiving of a ring/ or rings, I pronounce that they are (fill in) and (fill in), in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder.
All standing, the Celebrant says Let us pray together in the words our Savior taught us.
People and Celebrant
Our Father, who art in heaven, Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, hallowed be your Name, thy kingdom come, your kingdom come, thy will be done, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. on earth as in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, Forgive us our sins as we forgive those as we forgive those who trespass against us. who sin against us. And lead us not into temptation, Save us from the time of trial, but deliver us from evil. and deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, For the kingdom, the power, and the power, and the glory, and the glory are yours for ever and ever. Amen. now and for ever. Amen.
If Communion is to follow, the Lord’s Prayer may be omitted here.
The Deacon or other person appointed reads the following prayers, to which the People respond, saying, Amen. If there is not to be a Communion, one or more of the prayers may be omitted. Let us pray. 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 these whom you make one flesh in Holy Matrimony. Amen.
Give them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their common life, that all may be to the other/others a strength/strengths in need, a counselor/counselors in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion/companions 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 all married persons who have witnessed these vows may find their lives strengthened and their loyalties confirmed. 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 the Holy Spirit, you live and reign in perfect unity, now and for ever. Amen.
The Blessing of the Marriage
The people remain standing. The recentlywed kneel, and the Priest says one of the following prayers
Most gracious God, we give you thanks for your tender love in sending Jesus Christ to come among us, to be born of a human mother, and to make the way of the cross to be the way of life. We thank you, also, for consecrating the union of these in his Name. By the power of your Holy Spirit, pour out the abundance of your blessing upon them. Defend them from every enemy. Lead them into all peace. Let their love for each other be a seal upon their hearts, a mantle about their shoulders, and a crown upon their foreheads. Bless them in their work and in their companionship; in their sleeping and in their waking; in their joys and in their sorrows; in their life and in their death. Finally, in your mercy, bring them to that table where your saints feast for ever in your heavenly home; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
O God, you have so consecrated the covenant of marriage that in it is represented the spiritual unity between Christ and his Church: Send therefore your blessing upon these your servants, that they may so love, honor, and cherish each other in faithfulness and patience, in wisdom and true godliness, that their home may be a haven of blessing and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The recentlywed still kneeling, the Priest adds this blessing
God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord mercifully with his favor look upon you, and fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace; that you may faithfully live together in this life, and in the age to come have life everlasting. Amen.
The Celebrant may say to the people
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.
The newly married then greet each other, after which greetings may be exchanged throughout the congregation. When Communion is not to follow, the wedding party leaves the church. A hymn, psalm, or anthem may be sung, or instrumental music may be played.
At the Eucharist
The liturgy continues with the Offertory, at which the newly married may present the offerings of bread and wine.
Preface of Marriage
At the Communion, it is appropriate that the newly married receive Communion first, after the ministers. In place of the usual postcommunion prayer, the following is said
O God, the giver of all that is true and lovely and gracious: We give you thanks for binding us together in these holy mysteries of the Body and Blood of your Son Jesus Christ. Grant that by your Holy Spirit, N. and N. (and N.(s) if needed), now joined in Holy Matrimony, may become one in heart and soul, live in fidelity and peace, and obtain those eternal joys prepared for all who love you; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. As the wedding party leaves the church, a hymn, psalm, or anthem may be sung; or instrumental music may be played.