Congratulations as New Zealand has joined the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina and Denmark in recognizing same-sex marriage. Wednesday lawmaker Tau Henare extended a greeted people of all sexual identities,
“My message to you all is, ‘Welcome to the mainstream,'” Henare said. “Do well. Kia Ora.” (Maori)
There are many incredible new ceremonies and adaptations of familiar ceremonies for same-sex weddings. Leanne Tigert and I received many of these when we published the 2010 Pilgrim Press Book All Whom God Has Joined: Resources for Clergy and Same-Gender Loving Couples which includes worship resources as well as assistance with couple counseling and congregational education. There are so many other resources as well! In celebration today I share some of my “other-than-ceremony” practical resources for new weddings … words of welcome, a covenant to be used in wedding planning and a prayer for clergy folks who have not been actively involved in the passage of this legislation but are now called to celebrate love.
Words of welcome for our friends who are unsure but willing to learn …
(verbal or printed in program)
We extend a special welcome to family members, childhood friends, and work colleagues who are new to a wedding context in which the couple are two men/women. We know how easy it would have been for you to make an excuse and send a gift rather than risk coming to this celebration. We are so glad that you came. In fact, of all our guests, we are most deeply touched by your presence supporting us today.
We assure you: your orientation is not going to stand out. You won’t hear political speeches or be held responsible for intolerances of the past. You are not going to stare offensively at the benediction kiss or couples dancing. You are not going to say something stupid (at least not until after a few toasts). You are going to be moved by our ceremony and have a great time at our party. Our love for one another and for you is so deep it will absorb any awkwardness, and a blessing will rest on your own needs for tenderness, commitment to relationship, and willingness to be open to all God’s children.
Prayer of exclusion, inclusion and forgiveness
(Refers to Matthew 25)
Gracious and Holy God, secure in the covenant you have made in our hearts, we place these decisions in the light of your love, remembering that you told a parable about the inclusion and exclusion of those who expected to attend a wedding.
There are people who are part of our families or past histories (name them, if desired) whom we choose not to invite to the celebration of our wedding/union because their opinions damage the sacredness of this occasion. We pray that in years to come there may be healing and reconciliation that seem like a miracle now. We make this choice not in anger but in wisdom. We mourn their absence and the absence of (their children, spouses) those who will not be present because of their attitudes.
There are people (name them, if desired) whom we are including even though they may not accept the invitation to our wedding/union. We are saddened by their hesitation in love but wish to offer them this responsibility. We will rejoice in their presence, respect their absence and trust their courtesy.
Precious Savior and only Judge of us all, we offer our forgiveness of people, churches, schools, groups, (name them, if desired) from whom we have experienced intolerance, cruelty or abuse. What they have said and done is not acceptable, but we release ourselves from their continuing power for hurt and harm in our lives. We go forward unencumbered by the burden of hate they now must carry alone, until such a time as they may relinquish it to your grace and conversion. So lightened, we rejoice and return to the holy banquet which is the planning of our wedding/union. Amen
Prayer for anxious clergy on a first time celebrating a same gender loving ceremony … or God, help this old dog learn to be a new wineskin!
God, bless my words, my hands and my advice (and my sanctuary) on the occasion of this first marriage of a same-gender-loving couple. Help me to be honest with the tangle of my motivations so that I can help (names of couple) be honest with theirs. Give grace to the liturgy of love we shape together. Help me to protect them from hurtful comments by members of the congregation, and yet to let down my own defensiveness so I don’t miss genuine questions and opportunities to open hearts and minds. Forgive me all the times I will goof and forgive me the pride that wants my performance to be perfect. Guide me as I help (names of couple) relate to family and friends, understand marriage as far more than a bundle of benefits that has been too long withheld, and plan a great party! Amen