Friday, 4 April 2014

Prayers after (Same Sex) Marriage: A suggested order of service

 You've all seen Rev episode 2, haven't you? That's why I've written this...

A Suggested Draft Order for Prayer and Dedication after the Civil Marriage of a Same Sex Couple*


*NB: The Church of England has a recognised Order for this purpose when the couple concerned are a man and a woman, and that Order should be used in those circumstances. There is no analagous provision for couples of the same sex: instead, clergy are encouraged to make appropriate pastoral provision. This draft order draws heavily on the existing Order (copyright Archbishops Council), and makes some suggested adaptations, but it is not an official or authorised liturgy. It is suggested, however, that it may be of use as a basis for discussion with the couple concerned as to what would be appropriate pastoral provision in their particular circumstances.

Introduction

God is love, and those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

A hymn may be sung here, or after the next section.

The minister welcomes the couple and their family and friends, using these or similar words:

N and N, you stand in the presence of God having contracted a legal marriage earlier [today], to dedicate to God your life together. We pray with you that God may empower you to keep the vows you have made to one another.

Edited: Personally, I  might want to include the next bit, an adaptation of the Preface. However, as Peter O points out below, it could be construed as illegitimate under the present guidelines. Since the point of this draft is to offer a contribution that should be fully acceptable, I offer an alternative below. I don't commend this bit as above reproach, but am keeping it here for honesty, as its what I'd like to say - and frankly, I'd prefer to use this version at opposite-sex marriages....

[The Bible teaches us that marriage is a gift of God's grace, a holy mystery in which two people become one flesh. It is God's purpose that, as two people give themselves to each other in love throughout their lives, they shall be united in that love as Christ is united with the Church.
Marriage is given, that two people may comfort and help one another, living faithfully together in need and in plenty, in sorrow and in joy. It is given that with delight and tenderness they may know each other in love, and through the joy of their bodily union may strengthen the union of their hearts and lives.]

An alternative paragraph could be:
[We thank and praise God for bringing you together,
God is the creator of all joy and gladness,
pleasure and delight, love, peace and fellowship.
God loves all that God has made, and declares it to be good.
God's Holy Spirit is known by the fruit of love, joy and peace.
In Christ, God shows his love for us in that while we were still far off,
God met us in His Son and brought us home.]
Is it your wish today to affirm your desire to live as followers of Christ, and to come to him, the fountain of grace, that, strengthened by the prayers of the Church, you may be enabled to fulfil your marriage vows in love and faithfulness?

The couple reply: It is.

A hymn may be sung here.

Collect

Almighty God,
You have taught us through your Son
that love is the fulfillment of the Law.
Grant to these your servants
that, loving one another,
they may continue in your love until their lives' end.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Amen.

Readings
At least one Bible reading should be used, and other readings, poems, may also be used here.

The Dedication

The couple face the minister, who says

N and N, you hve committed yourselves to each other in marriage
And your marriage is recognised by law.
The Church of Christ understands marriage to be a lifelong union
For better, for worse
For richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish
Til parted by death.
Is this your understanding of the covenant and promises that you have made?

The couple reply: It is.

Have you resolved to be faithful to one another,
forsaking all others,
so long as you both shall live?

The couple reply: We have.

The couple will already be wearing their wedding rings: it would be appropriate for them to keep them on their fingers, since they are already married, and for this prayer to be said over their hands:

Heavenly Father,
may these rings, we pray, be to N and N
symbols of unending love and faithfulness
and of the promises they have made to each other:
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

The minister says to any family and friends present:

Will you, the family and friends of N and N
support and uphold them in their marriage
Now and in the years to come?
All: We will.

A hymn may be sung here

Prayers: these might well be said by a friend or family member, or even by the couple themselves.
Prayers in a church context should usually include the Lord's Prayer.

A hymn may be sung here.

Conclusion

A final Bible reading (in the manner of a dismissal gospel) or poem may be read here.

A blessing of the whole congregation would be usual here, but may be considered contentious in case it is misinterpreted as a blessing of the couple per se, which is contrary to the Bishop's guidance at this time. It may be advisable to use a form that makes the congregational nature of the blessing explicit, for example by using the inclusive 'us' form:

God the Holy Trinity make us strong in faith and love,
defend us on every side, and guide us in truth and peace;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be with us [you all] and remain with us [you all] always.
Amen.

If even this is considered inappropriate, I would suggest a form of the Peace:

We have celebrated the love of N and N
and we now celebrate God's love for us all.
Peace, in Christ, to all of you.
All: and also with you.

The exchange of the peace may follow, and form an informal end to the service; or the service could end on those words, and the minister and couple process out.

32 comments:

  1. Can I be picky?

    "The Bible teaches us that marriage is a gift of God's grace, a holy mystery in which two people become one flesh. It is God's purpose that, as two people give themselves to each other in love throughout their lives, they shall be united in that love as Christ is united with the Church."

    By applying this to the same-sex couple you change the Church's doctrine of marriage. You'll get a hand slap from your Archdeacon.

    "Heavenly Father, by your blessing
    let these rings be to N and N
    symbols of unending love and faithfulness
    and of the promises they have made to each other:
    through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    All: Amen."

    Dodgy, very dodgy. You're blessing the rings that are a sign of the marriage. By definition you're blessing the marriage.

    Apart from that, can't see the problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i am Bella Tina, from USA, I promise to share this testimony all over the world once my Husband return back to me, and today with all due respect i want to thank dr.olu for bringing joy and happiness to my relationship and my family. I want to inform you all that there is a spell caster that is real and genuine. I never believed in any of these things until i loosed my husband, I required help until i found a great spell caster, And he cast a love spell for me, and he assured me that I will get my husband back in two days after the spell has been cast. Three days later, my phone rang, and so shockingly, it was my husband who has not called me for past 6 months now, and made an apology for the heart break, and told me that he is ready to be my back bone till the rest of his life with me. Dr olu, released him up to know how much i loved and wanted him. And opened his eyes to picture how much we have share together. As I`m writing this testimony right now I`m the most happiest girl on earth and me and my husband is living a happy life and our love is now stronger than how it were even before our break up. So that`s why I promised to share my testimony all over the universe. All thanks goes to Dr,olu for the excessive work that he has done for me. Below is the email address in any situation you are undergoing a heart break, and I assure you that as he has done mine for me, he will definitely help you too.contact him now on email droluspiritualspellcaster@gmail.com or call +2348104244364
      (1) If you want your ex back.
      (2) if you always have bad dream
      (3) You want to be promoted in your office.
      (4) You want women/men to run after you.
      (5) If you want a child.
      Contact him today for your help and you will be happy for ever.

      Delete
    2. I never knew people still have powers and make things happen this way. My name is Sandra Mariam from United states, my boyfriend Henry Scot left me for another girl for three months ever since then my life have been filled with pains sorrow and heart break because he was my first love , A friend of mine Stephanie told me she saw some testimonies of this great Dr. Olu that he can bring back my lover within some few days, i laugh it out and said i am not interested but because of the love my friend had for me, She consulted the great priest on my behalf and to my greatest surprise after three days my boyfriend called me for the very first time after three months that he is missing me and that he is so sorry for everything he made me pass through. i still can't believe it, because it highly unbelievable it just too real to be real. Thank you Dr. Olu for bringing back my lover and also to my lovely friend who interceded on my behalf, for anyone who might need the help of this great priest here is the email address: droluspiritualspellcaster@gmail.com OR call him on this number +2348104244364,

      Delete
  2. Thats why that bit is n brackets!

    Personally, i think blessing the rings is OK. It is setting them aside as reminders of the marriage vows made in the civil ceremony.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Actually, I have edited the post to include an alternative, Peter. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Glad to see I am of some help!

    I think even if you include the first bit from the Marriage Service preface in brackets, it's still being offered as viable acceptable liturgy, and therein lies your problem. Remember, the preface of the CofE service goes WAY beyond the legal understanding of marriage and so to borrow from it is to apply the same theological reasoning that the preface makes.

    The alternative you provide is much better!

    As for the rings, I stand by what I said.

    For what it's worth, I have no problem with using a proper blessing at the end UNLESS you specifically at that point single out the couple.

    My normal practice at the end of a wedding is to ask every married couple in the church to hold hands and to point out that if there are some couples in the church who feel a bit left out by that, my number is on the door of the church. Then I do the final blessing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I stand by what I say about the rings too. The prayer is quite clear: God's blessing is invoked on the rings (as objects), in order that they might be signs to the couple of the understanding of their legal marriage that they have expressed in the service. That isn't blessing the couple or their union, it is blessing the rings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I get that, I just think it's perilously close to the line. Remember, the same preface that we referred to above says,

      "N and N are now to enter this way of life.
      They will each give their consent to the other
      and make solemn vows,
      and in token of this they will [each] give and receive a ring."

      So the ring represents the solemn vows of marriage, and to bless them in the same way is to equate the marriage in front of you with the same marriage described by the CofE Wedding Service preface.

      Do you see my point?

      Delete
    2. Mmmm. Ok, since the aim is to suggest something relatively uncontentious, I've slightly altered the wording to remove the word blessing!

      Delete
  6. I'm glad this is getting edited by discussion - shows it is a proper draft discussion document!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Frankly, there's still an underlying problem that it looks like the Blessing of a Marriage (because that's what you've basically taken and altered)....

      Delete
  7. 'Prayer and Dedication after Civil Marriage' is what its called,Peter, not Blessing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, but you take my point.

      Delete
    2. Yes, and the intro is very clear that that is what I have done.
      That is because the context - a couple wanting prayers after a legally binding civil marriage that for whatever reason they or we felt it would be inappropriate to hold in church - seems to me to be very similar indeed.

      Delete
  8. I guess there is a problem with anyone saying... the Bible teaches us...if it wasn't teaching us different things would be so much simpler...so maybe "The Bible teaches some of us....?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Would, "The Biblical witness is..." or "The Bible witnesses that..." help at all?

      Delete
  9. As you're enjoying the editing process so much, Miranda, here are my comments.

    You mention twice vows that have been made. Is it not the case that with registry office weddings, there is only the phrase "I take you to be my husband/wife?" Vows are a distinctive the church gives. You might be better talking about covenant, which is a true description of what the couple has entered into regardless of one's theological view.

    I feel uncomfortable with your revised preface (probably shouldn't call it that). The fall is missing. The word "pleasure" (fallen as our pleasures are) and the phrase "God loves all that God has made, and declares it to be good." particularly stick out. God did declare it to be good, but lots of bad stuff has happened to it and I don't think God still calls all of creation good by a very long way.

    Somewhat picky: in the collect "love is the fulfillment of the Law" is a teaching of Paul, not Jesus (Romans 13:10). Although πλήρωμα is difficult to translate in this context. What I am driving is towards the twitter conversation we recently had where I was saying that we cannot take the modern understanding of the word "love" as a short-cut to bypass all else that the Bible says. How about "You have taught us through your Saints that love is the most excellent way"? (Alluding to 1 Cor 12:31-13:end, of course).

    The not-vows also feel very close to the line. Particularly, using the word "marriage" without qualification is definitely problematic as the church definition of the word does not describe what the couple have entered into. If you collapse the first and second line into "... in a marriage recognised by law", that is much clearer. Apart from that, the not-vows contain a few typos: "hve" and "Til".

    The question to the family and friends also uses "marriage" in an unqualified way. It might also be asking more from some present than they can offer. I have been praying privately for same sex married couples that they would be blessed "with all the fullness God has for them". We should all be able to agree with that prayer even if we differ on what the fullness of God might be. I wonder if you might ask family and friends to do something similar?

    I agree with Peter that the blessing at the end is fine as long as it is clearly blessing of all gathered. The words "you all" cover that and I would generally prefer them to "us" - never lose the opportunity to give a priestly blessing to anyone who is happy to receive it. I'm a bit up the candle on that one.

    One key thing I find missing is any sense that Godly covenant relationships are outward-looking. In the Common Worship liturgy this is found in the bits about children and family and the "unity and loyalty ..." lines in the preface. It is also in the prayers for children and for the hospitality of the home and discerning God's word in the couple's lives. If you are correct about Christian marriage being able to be same sex, I think this would be a very important part of what God is calling the couple to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tom. As I said at the top, this is a discussion doc, to form the basis of a conversation with the couple. My experience of most civil weddings is that, in addition to the legal promises, the couple tend to write or choose vows to say to each other, and it is those I am referring to; obviously if they hadn't done so, they would want that to be changed.

      Generally, I think my view is that if someone has agreed to do 'pastoral prayers' after a civil ceremony, they should be positive about the legal marriage that has been contracted. That is what is being celebrated and dedicated: if you can't do that in good conscience, better to do nothing (or we are back to Rev!). So yes, I use the term 'marriage', as that is what the couple and their family and friends are here to celebrate.

      You are right, the outward-focus would come in the prayers, which it seems to me it would be silly to even attempt to provide a text for. And I suggest it would be best for these to be done by one of the couple's supporters, who would write something fitting to the couple.
      (I did wonder about including a sermon to do this, but since this is not a formal liturgy but the provision of pastoral prayers, that seemed inappropriate.)

      Delete
  10. Sorry, couldn't resist:
    http://cyber-coenobites.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/ceremony-of-not-blessing-things-wed.html

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm intrigued by the discussion in your comments on how to produce a service that prays for a couple and celebrates them in church while seemingly refraining from blessing them. Can you bless the rings that symbolise a marriage and *not*, at least by inference, bless the marriage itself? And if you can, by using philosophical loopholes, why would you want to? People don't come to church to have the rings blessed but not their marriage. And they don't come to church to be prayed for on the understanding they will *not* receive the blessing of the church. So--skilful though your writing is, Miranda--I'm back to asking what the point would be in trying to slide between the desire to offer affirmation, and the wish to avoid breaking rules that--if you obey them--deny you that opportunity.

    I'm reminded of a comment John Sentamu made some years ago when he was my parish priest. At the time it was unusual for divorcees to be remarried in church, and the common practice was to hold a civil wedding followed by a blessing in church. Sentamu's words were to this effect: "To bless, in church, a marriage you cannot hold in a church because the church cannot bless it, is a syllogistic fallacy. Either marry them, or don't bless them. You can't bless it and not bless it at the same time."

    ReplyDelete
  12. "Heavenly Father, by your blessing
    let these rings be to N and N
    symbols of unending love and faithfulness
    and of the promises they have made to each other:
    through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    All: Amen."


    Just remove "By your blessing." Simples.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Best to go to a church that will give a marriage when the gay couple wants a marriage. Then one can say what it means and mean what it says.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This conversation thread just makes me incredibly sad, but thanks Miranda for trying in your own way to make things better.

    ReplyDelete
  15. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFkeKKszXTw Biblical marriage, eh??

    ReplyDelete
  16. I was into fashion designer business, but it was not working fine the way it was supposed to, life was not what living cos things was very bad for me financially, i have a beautiful wife with three kids to take care off. i sold my car and some of my fashion design property just to keep a living and still things was not going easily for me. so i complained to a friend of mine Ann who said he knows a powerful spell caster called Dr Orissa who can help me with money spell, good luck and automatic promotion in office, spell to bring back your ex lover, spells to bring close one in jail lost back home,healing spell.that help straightened his brother life from taking hard drugs. At first i was confused and doubtful, then i decided to give a try and did what Dr Orissa told me to do, to my greatest surprise 12hours later things started working perfectly well for me, i got what i ever bargained for, my business was flourishing like never before, i now have enough money to take good care of my lovely family and now we are living happily,I say thank you for bringing my source to hope and joy with his powerful spell,well if you want to be a living testimony like me or interested in any spell casting you can contact Dr Orissa via email: orissatemple@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  17. Join Millions of Singles in and around the world and find your Interracial dream partner today.
    Interracial Dating
    Black Women Dating
    Interracial Marriages

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am so happy today because of what Dr Orissa did for me,my fiance broke up with me last two months because he thought i was cheating on him, so for the past two months now have been pleading to him but he refuse to come back still saying the same thing that he does not want me again that he already have another girlfriend, i fill like killing my self. i came in contact with Dr Orissa who told me that my lover is going to come back to me if i did what he ask me to do, after that he told me that within 24hours my lover is going to come back to me to apologist for all the wrongs he had done to me,can you believe that my lover is back to me ,he now love me more than before i am so so happy if you need his help contact him via email orissatemple@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. 'After being in relationship with Wilson for seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that don't believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I meant a spell caster called Dr Zuma zuk and I email him, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email: spiritualherbalisthealers@gmail.com you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything. CONTACT HIM NOW FOR SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS'

    ReplyDelete
  20. Here's a suggestion. Use prayers of the adelphopoiesis, especially the long one found in the Grottaferrata («Aνθηρóν ημíν και πολυπóθητον η της αγάπης ευωδία...»). This one is very beautiful; it has the shape of an anaphora (just like the Exultet, or the consecration of palms on Palm Sunday, or of candles in Candlemas etc.).

    Thus, nobody could accuse you of creating something. You would be using a very old prayer, with the same intention as the generations past who have been using it for centuries.

    ReplyDelete
  21. “I feel the same way as any other man with heartbreak and What would I have done if not for DR. wakina, my name is Mrs. Kelvin Scott, I am 38. years old and I have a son. Unfortunately almost a year ago his mom broke up with me because of a mistake I made and I just really want her back. she is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I want my family to be complete again, I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I read online that dr wakina helped a girl in this situation and I contacted him for help. I grew up with my parents divorced and I don't want that for my son and I miss my wife so much and just want my family to be bank again I want the love of my life back and I can honestly say that because she is the only woman I have ever truly loved with all my heart. So I seek help from wakinaspellhome@yahoo.com and he responded to me and he cast a love spell for me which I use in getting back my wife and I am happy and grateful to him for helping me and I want you all to also have the opportunity I had also, drwakinaspellhome@gmail.com or through his website http://wakinaspellhome.webs.com. is the only through help I have ever known. because he help me i beleive he is ready to help you also if you are passing through relationship problems good luck...

    ReplyDelete