Liturgy

A SERVICE OF CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE I

 

This service of Christian marriage is found in UMH 864-69.  It is provided for couples who wish to solemnize their marriage in a service of Christian worship, parallel in its structure to the Sunday service, which includes the proclamation of the Word with prayer and praise. Christian marriage is proclaimed as a sacred covenant reflecting the Baptismal Covenant.  Everything about the service is designed to witness that this is a Christian marriage.

Both words and actions consistently reflect the belief that husband and wife are equal partners in Christian marriage and that they are entering into the marriage of their own volition.

Those present are understood to be an active congregation rather than simply passive witnesses.  They give their blessing to the couple and to the marriage, and they join in prayer and praise.   It is highly appropriate that the congregation sing hymns and other acts of worship.  See the wedding hymns in UMH 642-47, those listed under Weddings in UMH 953-54, and others listed in the service below.

Holy Communion may or may not be celebrated.  If it is, it is most important that its significance be made clear.  Specifically:  (1) The marriage rite is included in a Service of Word and Table.  (2)  Not only the husband and wife but the whole congregation are to be invited to receive communion.  It is our tradition to invite all Christians to the Lord’s table.  (3)  There should be no pressure that would embarrass those who for whatever reason, do not chose to receive communion.

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.  The pastor’s “due counsel with the parties involved” prior to marriage, mandated by The United Methodist Book of Discipline, should include, in addition to premarital counseling, discussing and planning the service with them and informing them of policies or guidelines established by the congregation on such matters as decorations, photography, and audio or video recording.  Any leadership roles taken by other clergy should be at the invitation of the pastor of the church where service is held. The organist or person in charge of the music should be consulted and work with the couple in all decision on music selection.

Ethnic and cultural traditions are encouraged and may be incorporated into the service at the discretion of the pastor.

Any children of the man or the woman, other family, and friends may take a variety of roles in the service, depending on their ages and abilities.  They may, for example, be members of the wedding party, participate in the Response of the Families and People, read scripture lesions, sing or play instrumental music, or make a witness in their own words. 

 

ENTRANCE

 

     The congregation may participate by using A Service of Christian Marriage in UMH 864.

 

GATHERING

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.

During the entrance of the wedding party, there may be instrumental music or a hymn, a psalm, a canticle, or an anthem.  The congregation may be invited to stand.  The following processional hymns in UMH are suggested:

 

166   All Praise to Thee, for Thou, O King Divine

89   Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee

       

93   Let All the World in Every Corner Sing

559   Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation

117  O God, Our Help in Ages Past

475   Cone Down, O Love Divine

66   Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

61   Come, Thou Almighty King

96   Praise the Lord Who Reigns Above

732   Come, We That Love the Lord

139  Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

111   How Can We Name a Love

126  Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above

644   Jesus, Joy of Our Desiring

90   Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones

 

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.

GREETING

     Pastor to people:

Friends, we are gathered together in the sight of God
to witness and bless the joining together of Name and Name
   in Christian marriage.
The covenant of marriage was established by God,
   who created us make and female for each other.
With his presence and power
   Jesus graced a wedding at Cana of Galilee,
and in his sacrificial love
   gave us the example for the love of husband and wife.
Name and Name come to give themselves to one another
   in this holy covenant.

DECLARATION OF INTENTION

 

DECLARATION BY THE MAN AND THE WOMAN

Pastor to the persons who are to marry:

I ask you now, in the presence of God and these people,
to declare your intention
to enter into union with each other
through the grace of Jesus Christ,
   who calls you into union with himself
   as acknowledged in your baptism.

    Pastor to the woman:

Name, will you have Name 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:

Name, will you have Name 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 THE PEOPLE

Pastor to people:

The marriage of Name and 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?

We do.

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 people:

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.

PRAYER *

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

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 when we are disobedient.
You sustain us with your Holy Spirit.
We rejoice in your life in the midst of our lives.
We praise you for your presence with us,
   and especially in this act of solemn covenant;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 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.

Suggested Scripture Lessons

 

Genesis 1:26 –28,31a

The creation of man and woman         

Song of Solomon 2:10 –14, 16a ; 8:6–7

Love is strong as death.           

Isaiah 43:1 –7

You are precious in God's eyes.

Isaiah 55:10 –13

You shall go out in joy.

Isaiah 61:10 –62:3

Rejoice in the Lord.

Isaiah 63:7 –9

The steadfast love of the Lord

Romans 12:1 –2, 9–18

The life of a Christian

1 Corinthians 13

The greatest of these is love.

2 Corinthians 5:14 –17

In Christ we are a new creation.

Ephesians 2:4 –10

God's love for us

Ephesians 4:1 –6

Called to the one hope

Ephesians 4:25 –5:2

Members one of another         

Philippians 2:1 –2

The Christlike spirit

Philippians 4:4 –9

Rejoice in the Lord.

Colossians 3:12 –17

Live in love and thanksgiving.

1 John 3:18 –24

Love one another.

1 John 4:7 –16

God is love.

Revelation 19:1, 5–9a

The wedding feast of the Lamb

Matthew 5:1 –10

The Beatitudes

Matthew 7:21, 24–27

A house built upon a rock

Matthew 22:35 –40

Love, the greatest commandment

Mark 2:18 –22

Joy in Christ as at a wedding

Mark 10:42 –45

True greatness 

John 2:1 –11

The marriage feast of Cana

John 15:9 –17.

Remain in Christ's love.

 

 

Suggested Hymns from UMH

 

642

As Man and Woman We Were Made

645

O Perfect Love

451

Be Thou My Vision

408

The Gift of Love

158

Come, Christians, Join to Sing

138

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

164

Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life

643

When Love Is Found

695

O Lord, May Church and Home Combine

549

Where Charity and Love Prevail

 

 

647

Your Love, O God, Has Called Us Here

 

 

Suggested Psalms and Canticles

 

23 (UMH 128, 136–38, 518, 754)

The Lord is my shepherd.

33 (UMH 767)

Rejoice in the Lord.

34 (UMH 769)

I will bless the Lord.

37 (UMH 772)

Trust in the Lord and do good.

67 (UMH 791)

May God be gracious to us.

100 (UMH 74, 75, 821)

Make a joyful noise to the Lord.

103 (UMH 139, 824)

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

112 (UMH 833)

Happy are those who fear the Lord.

145 (UMH 857)

The Lord is gracious.

148 (UMH 861)

Praise the Lord from the heavens.

150 (UMH 96, 139, 862)

Praise the Lord.

Canticle of Love (UMH 646)

Two shall become one in love.

 

SERMON OR OTHER WITNESS TO CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

INTERCESSORY PRAYER *

     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 and 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.

 

THE MARRIAGE

EXCHANGE OF VOWS

  The woman and man face each other, joining hands. The pastor may prompt them, line by line.

 

     Man to woman:

In the name of God,
I, Name, take you, Name, to be my wife,
   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.

     Woman to man:

In the name of God,
I, Name, take you, Name, to be my husband,
   to have and to hold
   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.

     In place of the vows given above, one of the following may be used:

I take you, Name, to be my wife (husband),
   and I promise before God and all who are present here
      to be your loving and faithful husband (wife )
      as long as we both shall live.
I will serve you with tenderness and respect,
and encourage you to develop God's gifts in you.


Name, in the name of God,
   I take you to be my husband (wife) from this time onward,
   to join with you and to share all that is to come,
   to give and to receive,
   to speak and to listen,
   to inspire and to respond,
   and in all our life together
   to be loyal to you with my whole being,
   as long as we both shall live.

BLESSING AND EXCHANGE OF RINGS

The exchange of rings is optional. Other tangible symbols may be given in addition to, or instead of, rings.

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.


OR

   
These rings (symbols)
are the outward and visible sign
of an inward and spiritual grace,
signifying to all the uniting of Name and 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):

Name, 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.

If a unity candle is used, the two side candles representing the husband and wife are lighted first, typically as part of the Entrance, 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 wife and husband 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 and 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 put asunder. Amen.

The congregation may be invited to stand, and a doxology or other hymn may be sung. The following hymns from UMH are suggested:

 

139   Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

643  When Love Is Found

408   The Gift of Love

 

 

 

 

     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 , or one of the musical settings (UMH), and the service continues with the Thanksgiving and Communion. 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 your tender love
   in making us a covenant people
      through our Savior Jesus Christ
   and for consecrating in his name
      the marriage covenant of Name and Name.

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.

THANKSGIVING AND COMMUNION

TAKING THE BREAD AND CUP

Pastor to people:

Let us offer ourselves and our gifts to God.

Here the husband and wife, or children from previous marriages, or representatives of the congregation may bring bread and wine to the Lord's table.

The pastor, standing if possible behind the Lord's table, facing the people from this time through Breaking the Bread, takes the bread and cup; and the bread and wine are prepared for the meal.

THE GREAT THANKSGIVING

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

 

Lift up your hearts. The pastor may lift hands and keep them raised.
We lift them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

 

It is right, and a good and joyful thing,
   always and everywhere to give thanks to you,
   Father Almighty (almighty God), Creator of heaven and earth.
You formed us in your image, male and female you created us.
You gave us the gift of marriage, that we might fulfill each other.

And so,
   with your people on earth and all the company of heaven
   we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

The pastor may lower hands.

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
   Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
   Hosanna in the highest.

The pastor may raise hands.

Holy are you, and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ.
By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection
   you gave birth to your Church,
   delivered us from slavery to sin and death,
   and made with us a new covenant
   by water and the Spirit,
      from which flows the covenant love of husband and wife.

The pastor may hold hands, palms down, over the bread, or touch the bread, or lift the bread.

On the night in which he gave himself up for us,
   he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread,
   gave it to his disciples, and said:
"Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me."

The pastor may hold hands, palms down, over the cup, or touch the cup, or lift the cup.

When the supper was over he took the cup,
   gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said:
"Drink from this, all of you;
   this is my blood of the new covenant,
   poured out for you and for many
      for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it,
   in remembrance of me."

The pastor may raise hands.

And so,
in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
   as a holy and living sacrifice,
   in union with Christ's offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

The pastor may hold hands, palms down, over the bread and cup.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here,
   and on these gifts of bread and wine.
Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ,
that we may be for the world the body of Christ,
   redeemed by his blood.

The pastor may extend hands over the husband and wife.

By the same Spirit bless Name and Name,
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.

The pastor may raise hands.

Through your Son Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church,
all honor and glory is yours, almighty Father (God),
now and for ever.

Amen.

 

THE LORD'S PRAYER

The pastor's hands may be extended in open invitation.

And now, with the confidence of children of God, let us pray:

 The pastor may raise hands.

All pray the Lord's Prayer, using one of the forms in UMH 270–71, 894–96.

BREAKING THE BREAD

The pastor, still standing behind the Lord's table facing the people, breaks the bread and then lifts the cup, in silence or with appropriate words.

GIVING THE BREAD AND CUP

The bread and wine are given to the people, with these or other words being exchanged. The husband and wife may assist in the distribution.

The body of Christ, given for you. Amen.
The blood of Christ, given for you. Amen.

While the bread and cup are given, the congregation may sing hymns, or there may be vocal or instrumental music. See suggestions and under Weddings or Holy Communion in UMH.

When all have received, the Lord's table is put in order.

The pastor may then offer the following prayer:

Eternal God, we give you thanks
that you have brought Name  and Name [and their families and friends]
   together at the table of your family.
Help them grow in love and unity,
that they may rejoice together all the days of their lives
   and in the wedding feast of heaven.
Grant this through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

SENDING FORTH

Here may be sung a hymn or psalm.

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.

THE PEACE *

The peace of the Lord be with you always.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.

GOING FORTH *

A hymn may be sung or instrumental music played as the couple, the wedding party, and the people leave. The following recessional hymns in UMH are suggested:

 

166  All Praise to Thee, for Thou, O King Divine

733   Come We That Love the Lord

100  God, Whose Love Is Reigning o'er Us

89   Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

384  Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

102  Now Thank We All Our God

90   Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones

 

 

 

 

 

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Copyright: “A Service of Christian Marriage 1, Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1985, 1989, 1992 UMPH. Intercessory Prayer and Blessing and Exchange of Rings, Copyright © 1964, 1965 Board of Publication of the Methodist Church, Inc.; Copyright © 1979, 1985, 1989, 1992 UMPH; renewal Copyright © 1992 UMPH. Thanksgiving and Communion, Copyright © 1972 The Methodist Publishing House; Copyright © 1980, 1981, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1992 UMPH. Used by permission.”

 

Categories: Services of Christian Marriage