Service of Christian Marriage
This service of Christian marriage in the United Methodist Church is designed to witness to the faith of the couples at a time when the present their love and loyalty for God and each other before friends and family. Words and actions, music and readings should reflect the beliefs that love is of God and husband and wife are equal partners in the gift of marriage. Those who witness the service give their blessing to the couple and to the marriage, and they join in prayer and praise.
The decision to perform the ceremony is the right and responsibility of the pastor, in accordance with the laws of the state and The United Methodist Church. All plans should be approved by the pastor. Pastor encourages that blended families (second marriages, interfaith, cross-ethnic marriages or marriages where children are part of the family mix) discuss with her about how the service can express the uniqueness of the family unit. Rituals for that incorporate the inclusion of children of second marriages can be added to the service during the pre-marital planning with the Pastor.
SAMPLE OF BASIC ORDER OF CEREMONY
While the people gather, instrumental or vocal music may be offered. Here and throughout the service, the use of music appropriate for Christian worship is strongly encouraged.
The woman and the man, entering separately or together, now come forward with members of the wedding party. The woman and the man may be escorted by representatives of their families until they have reached the front of the church, or through the Response of the Families, at which time their escorts are seated.
Pastor to people:
Friends, we are gathered together in the sight of God to witness and bless the joining together of Name &Name in Christian marriage. The covenant of marriage was established by God and is not to be entered into unadvisedly. But to be with prayer and discernment.
I ask you now, in the presence of God and these people, to declare your intention to enter into union with each other.
Pastor to the woman:
_______, will you have ________ to be your husband, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health and forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?
Woman: I will.
Pastor to the man:
________, will you have _______ to be your wife, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?
Man: I will.
RESPONSE OF THE FAMILIES AND PEOPLE (Options)
Pastor to people:
The marriage of Name & Name unites their families and creates a new one. They ask for your blessing.
Parents and other representatives of the families may respond in one of the following ways:
We rejoice in your union, and pray God's blessing upon you.
or, in reply to the pastor's question:
Do you who represent their families rejoice in their union and pray God's blessing upon them?
or, children of the couple may repeat these or similar words, prompted line by line, by the pastor:
We love both of you.
We bless your marriage.
Together we will be a family.
If the woman and the man have been escorted by representatives of their families, their escorts, having blessed the marriage in the name of their families, may be seated.
Pastor to All Present:
Will all of you, by God's grace, do everything in your power to uphold and care for these two persons in their marriage?
People: We will.
Let us pray.
God of all peoples, you are the true light illumining everyone. You show us the way, the truth, and the life.
You love us even before we took our first breath and you will love us beyond our last. In our days between, sustain us with your Holy Spirit. We rejoice in your life in the midst of our lives. We give thanks for your presence with us, and especially now in this covenant between ______ and _____ ; through Jesus Christ our Lord, we pray. Amen.
PROCLAMATION AND RESPONSE
A hymn, psalm, canticle, anthem, or other music may be offered before or after the readings. The congregation may be invited to stand.
Scripture Lesson or Reading / Musical Response/ Reflection
An extemporaneous prayer may be offered, or the following may be prayed by the pastor or by all:
Eternal God, Creator and Preserver of all life, Author of salvation, Giver of all grace: Bless and sanctify with your Holy Spirit Name & Name, who come now to join in marriage. Grant that they may give their vows to each other in the strength of your steadfast love. Enable them to grow in love and peace with you and with one another all their days that they may reach out in concern and service to the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
EXCHANGE OF VOWS
The woman and man face each other, joining hands. The pastor may prompt them, line by line.
I ________take you, ______, to be my wife (husband ), 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 death do us part. This is my solemn vow.
BLESSING AND EXCHANGE OF RINGS
The exchange of rings is optional. Other tangible symbols may be given in addition to, or instead of, rings. This is an excellent time for blended marriages to include a tangible symbol for the "child" to receive by the new "parent."
The pastor, taking the rings, may say one of the following:
These rings (symbols) are the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, signifying to us the union between Jesus Christ and his Church. These rings (symbols) are the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, signifying to all the uniting of Name & Name in holy marriage.
The pastor may bless the giving of rings or other symbols of the marriage:
Bless, O Lord, the giving of these rings (symbols), that they who wear them may live in your peace and continue in your favor all the days of their life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
While placing the ring on the third finger of the recipient's left hand, the giver may say (prompted, line by line, by the pastor):
_________, I give you this ring as a sign of my vow, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
OPTIONS UNITY CANDLES / SAND / ETC
If a unity candle is used, the two side candles representing the husband and wife are lighted first, and the
center candle representing the marriage is lighted at this or some later point in the service. The side candles are not extinguished because both husband and wife retain their personal identities.
DECLARATION OF MARRIAGE
The two join hands. The pastor may place a hand on their joined hands.
Pastor to husband and wife:
You have declared your consent and vows before God and this congregation. May God confirm your covenant
and fill you both with grace.
The couple may turn and face the congregation.
Pastor to people:
Now that Name & Name have given themselves to each other by solemn vows, with the joining of hands,
[and the giving and receiving of rings ,]
I announce to you that they are husband and wife; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Those whom God has joined together, let no one separate. Amen.
The congregation may be invited to stand, and a doxology or other hymn may be sung. The following hymns from UMH are suggested; Intercessions may be offered for the Church and for the world.
BLESSING OF THE MARRIAGE
The husband and wife may kneel, as the pastor prays:
O God, you have so consecrated the covenant of Christian marriage that in it is represented the covenant between Christ and his Church. Send therefore your blessing upon Name and Name, that they may surely keep their marriage covenant, and so grow in love and godliness together that their home may be a haven of blessing and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
If Holy Communion is to be celebrated, the congregation turns to A Service of Word and Table III in UMH 15, or one of the musical settings ( UMH 17-25), and the service continues with the Thanksgiving and Communion (124-27). If Holy Communion is not to be celebrated, the service continues with the following Prayer of Thanksgiving.
Most gracious God, we give you thanks for you and your consecrating presence in the marriage covenant of ____ & ____. Grant that their love for each other may reflect the love of Christ for us and grow from strength to strength as they faithfully serve you in the world. 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 heads. 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 lives and in their deaths. Finally, by your grace, bring them and all of us 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.
The Lord's Prayer, prayed by all, using one of the forms in UMH 270-71, 894-96. The wife and husband may continue to kneel.
THE DISMISSAL WITH BLESSING
Pastor to wife and husband:
God the Eternal keep you in love with each other, so that the peace of Christ may abide in your home.
Go to serve God and your neighbor in all that you do.
Pastor to people:
Bear witness to the love of God in this world, so that those to whom love is a stranger will find in you generous friends. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Pastor: The peace of the Lord be with you always. The People: And also with you.
The couple may greet each other with a kiss and be greeted by the pastor, after which greetings may be exchanged through the congregation.
A hymn may be sung or instrumental music played as the couple, the wedding party, and the people leave.