Wedding Day at UUCA was a holy time. Together with other Atlanta-area Unitarian Universalist ministers, I officiated the marriage ceremony of six same-sex couples. What follows is the script that I wrote for the beautiful occasion.
OPENING WORDS Rev. Makar
It is written that the greatest of all things—the most wonderful experience in the world—is love. Into your lives has entered a deep and nurturing love, and you have asked us as Unitarian Universalist ministers to help you celebrate and affirm that love by joining you together in marriage.
The ceremony in which we are all now participating is a bold, even revolutionary act. Even as the Supreme Court has recognized the validity and worth of the marriages that we are today celebrating and affirming, many are still openly or covertly hostile to LGBTQ couples who decide to commit their lives to one another. We pray for their hearts. We pray that the same kind of love that brings us here today breaks open their hearts, and brings them to a greater sense of the possibilities of life.
The journey of true equality and justice is ongoing. More work is to be done. But we will not let the continuing need to save the world interfere with our purpose here and now of savoring this amazing, sweet moment.
With Melissa Etheridge, we say today:
Mother, tell your children
Be quick, you must be strong
Life is full of wonder
Love is never wrong
Remember how they taught you
How much of it was fear
Refuse to hand it down
The legacy stops here
Let us prepare our spirits for rejoicing! Let us do that with bubbles, and I’m going to ask the LGBTQ folks among us to blow some bubbles…. Just a little bit—-just a preview of the BIG bubble blast waiting for us at the end of the service, when we’ll all get to it…
We give thanks for all those who have shared love and wisdom with us, and have renewed our faith in the power of love, which holds us and nurtures us and makes us one in spite of time, death, and the space between the stars.
We light this chalice with reverence for that spirit of love and wholeness.
Chalice to be lit by Joetta Prost and Kathy Shell
PRAYER Rev. Taddeo
Let us pray.
Spirit of Life, God of Love….
We pray for the couples in this room,
those whose marriage vows made elsewhere now have national recognition
and those who will be entering into sacred matrimony, in our midst.
May they live according to their promises, each to the other.
May they create a marriage that is filled with joy and tenderness.
Inspire them to enter into the deepest mysteries and wonders of love
and therein create a safe haven in their hearts for each other.
Strengthen them to know the peace
that comes from truly being received
and known and accepted by another.
May their love for each other
enrich them as individuals
and provide a safe and loving environment
for the family they are creating through this union.
We pray that they find the balance and harmony
of their individuality and their shared life.
Guide them and bless them, Beloved,
that they may know that there is nothing more priceless
than the gift of loving one another
as they journey through life side by side.
We also know that they do not love in a vacuum.
Let their love be strong in a world that can at times feel unsafe.
Soften the hearts of those who misunderstand, or lack compassion, or hate.
Be with this nation as it journeys towards greater equality and justice.
Let each of hearing these words find ways to be the change we wish to see….
Spirit of Life, God of Love, we feel your presence in this room, in our hearts.
Bless these couples to be married today.
We also ask for a blessing of renewal and devotion
for those already married or in committed relationships.
May we comfort each other with our love today and every day.
God bless us all.
REMEMBRANCES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Rev. Teague
At this time, we honor the memory of all those leaders and heroes
who have made moments like this possible.
Heros like Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon
Heros of the larger movement in quest of equality and justice
like the 200 courageous same-sex couples and their families – the plaintiffs in cases all over the country – who stood up for marriage equality and played a defining role in the historic Supreme Court decision on the freedom to marry.
We take a moment of silence now in honor of them….
We also take this moment to remember and honor
The heros we have known close at hand,
Family and friends who have nurtured us
And helped bring us to this moment in time…
We take another moment of silence to honor them…
These are the ones who have taught us how to love.
These are the ones who have planted a seed of courage, and hope, and faith.
We go forward in our lives with gratitude.
RESPONSIVE READING Rev. Keller
Minister: And now, please join me for the responsive reading in your order of service.
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and angels but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or clanging cymbal.
Congregation: And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and knowledge, and if I have faith so as to remove mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.
Minister: If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Congregation: 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 wrong doing, but rejoices in the truth.
Minister: It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. Prophecies will come to an end. Tongues will cease. Knowledge will come to an end. We know in part, we prophesy in part. But when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.
Congregation: When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child;
Minister: When I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. Now, we see in a mirror, in a riddle.
Congregation: Then we will see face to face. Now I know in part. Then I will know fully.
Minister: Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three, and the greatest of these is love.
“Standing on the Side of Love”
READING Rev. Davis
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has written:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.
It is so ordered.
It is so ordered, and therefore–we are here celebrating!
HOMILY Rev. Makar
Love is not some accident we fall into.
If we learn to grow in love, then there is the possibility
that our tomorrows will be even more joyous and more life-nourishing and inspiring.
Love has the capacity for that magic.
Perhaps only love has such capacity.
We are saying YES to love today, and as we do so,
we listen carefully to the wisdom of the Bible writer
who spoke about gifts of the spirit
in our responsive reading from a moment ago.
Faith, hope, and love.
Marriage is indeed an act of FAITH.
To enter into union with another requires trust and confidence,
in yourself, and in your beloved.
The risk is that of vulnerability.
The risk is letting the other glimpse you in your humanity.
There is no guarantee that being married will make your lives easier;
marriage is often very complicated,
and being married requires that you accept significant responsibilities.
There is no guarantee that marriage will make your lives happier;
when you open your heart to trust and love,
worries and sorrows may come in through the same door.
This is why the commitment to marriage must also be made in HOPE.
Hope is a great gift, if you don’t get it mixed up with romantic wishful thinking.
Hope has nothing to do with the romantic assumption
that once you are married, the two of you will live happily ever after.
A wise married couple once said:
“Marriage does not work automatically at all, it has to be learned.
Just as it is difficult to be civilized,
so it is difficult to be married.” (Muriel and A. Powell Davies)
And the poet Ranier Maria Rilke once wrote to a friend:
“To love is good too–love being difficult.
For one human being to love another,
that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks,
the ultimate, the last test and proof,
the work for which all other is but preparation.“
Hope is what encourages us to cheerfully take up this most difficult path,
because we believe in where it’s going,
and perhaps, because we value the challenge and the joy of the journey as well.
IF all the couples here today believe that life is inherently good,
that we experience life more deeply and fully
when we can share our experience and understanding of life
with a loved and trusted partner,
THEN it makes sense to open your heart and soul to another in love and trust.
You are carrying the kind of hope that can sustain a marriage.
LOVE is the third, and the greatest gift, that the Bible writer recommends to us.
The kind of love which sustains a marriage
is a way of purposefully responding to, and believing in,
the inherent and sacred goodness that is woven through all of life,
that is kindled in each human spirit,
and which you make accessible to your partner in marriage.
Such love is rooted in mutual respect,
for each of you is created in the image of God.
As spouses, you will each have, and will continue to have, different ideas,
different hopes, and interests, different strengths, different needs.
You are each enriched, not diminished, by the different insights and perspectives
you bring to one another.
The blessing and strength of your marriage will unfold
as you grow in understanding of yourselves and of each other,
so that you can nourish each other’s true growing.
Allow your love to stimulate and challenge each other
and enlarge each other’s world.
Attend to those things that nourish and sustain your love for one another
and for life.
So may your lives, ever nourished by the gifts of faith, hope, and love,
be a blessing to all others whose lives touch yours.
DECLARATION OF SUPPORT Rev. Thickstun
I ask those of you who have gathered here today this: do you who know and care for these couples give them your blessings now as they enter into marriage, and do you promise (in the days and years ahead) to give them your deepest love, understanding, and support during both good times and bad?
If so, say “We do.”
(Congregation responds in unison)
READING Rev. Rogers
A reading from Rabindranath Tagore:
It is for the union of you and me
that there is light in the sky.
It is for the union of you and me
that the earth is decked in dusky green.
It is for the union of you and me
that night sits motionless with the world in her
dawn appears opening the eastern door
with sweet murmurs in her voice.
The boat of hope sails along on the currents of
eternity towards that union,
flowers of the ages are being gathered together
for its welcoming ritual.
It is for the union of you and me
that this heart of mine, in the garb of a bride,
has proceeded from birth to birth
upon the surface of this ever-turning world
to choose the Beloved.
MARRIAGE VOWS Rev. Makar
And now it is time to say the vows that will affirm your love. Please take each other’s hands and face each other. Listen carefully, listen soulfully, and in the end, I will ask each of you separately to affirm your vows with a single YES.
Will you have each other as equal partners?
Will you share with each other your love, honesty, caring and trust?
Will you keep each other warm and close with affection and kindness?
Will you seek to make your marriage a committed relationship in which you can each grow independently at the same time you grow together as a couple and share the many adventures of life?
Will you promise each other your heart, your mind, and your body to honor and cherish each other from this day forward?
If so, then will one partner in the couple say clearly and proudly YES
And now, will the other partner in the couple say clearly and proudly YES
RINGS/TOKENS Rev. Makar
At this time, all our couples are invited to come down to the floor. A minister will join you as you exchange rings or tokens of love and affection with each other. the minister will also offer up a private blessing on your union.
DECLARATION Rev. Makar
And now, will the congregation stand:
By the authority of Life Itself
and the state of Georgia
and the Constitution of the United States of America
By the authority of the day given to us to live
and the cycle of seasons through which our lives must pass
By the authority of the love of friends that honors and supports this loving relationship and the hurts and pain through which your lives have passed alone,
By the authority of the long and sometimes lonely struggle of our people for the freedom to love,
and by the delight and hope you have found in each other
We declare you to be married and proclaim it holy and good.
In the eyes of God and of humanity.
let all respect the threshold of your home.
Let the congregation say, AMEN.
Please be seated…
BENEDICTION Rev. Makar
“Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter to the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there is no loneliness for you, now there is no more loneliness. Now you are two persons but there is only one life before you. Go now to your dwelling place, to enter into the days of your togetherness, and may your days be good and long upon the earth.” (Apache prayer)
KISS AND PRESENTATION Rev. Makar
May the couples now seal their unions with a kiss.
Let me read aloud the names of the couple, say final words, and then I will ask you to raise the roof with shouts of joy and cheer—and also EVERYONE blow your bubbles….
Family and friends, we present to you the Spirit of Love and Wholeness. It shines in the faces and forms of these children of God you see before you.
[Blow bubbles and invite the congregation to join along!]