A Wedding Prayer

This week’s blog is from my sermon this past Sunday. The text for the sermon is Mark 10, where Jesus has some strong words about marriage and divorce. Here is what I offered for the sermon.
In 25 years of ministry, I have had the blessing of performing many weddings. Those days are days of joy and celebration. I am mindful that not all of the weddings I have performed have lasted. The reality is that we are a broken people. God created us for relationship with God and others. So how do we reconcile Jesus’ words today about divorce in a world of brokenness? What is marriage? With all the changes in our society and our world, some may ask, “Why even get married?” I share with you a sermon called, “The Wedding Prayer.” – OR – “What Goes Through A Pastor’s Mind During A Wedding!”

  • The regular type is what is going through the pastor’s mind.
  • The BOLD print is the liturgy/spoken part of the service.
  • The Italics sections are a prayer to God.

Let’s see, the candles are lit, the organ is playing, the congregation is seated, the groom is a nervous wreck, the bride can’t stop crying, the photographer is already getting on my nerves. Yes, God, here we are again for another wedding!  What am I forgetting – the best man and the maid of honor have the rings, everyone is in place – men in the hallway, women in the narthex, the mothers are seated.  Everything seems to be in order, but is it really? Oh, God, I know now is not the time to get philosophical or theological.  But what are we doing here?  Do these kids know what they are getting in to?  Now that I think about it, I wonder if the minister asked the same question of you when I was married! Yes, I met with the bride and groom.  Yes we talked about all kinds of things, from marriage, to money, from careers to… well, you know, other stuff.  God, they love each other, very much.  And God, I am so thankful they are here today to come together, here in your presence, and in the presence of family and friends.  But are they ready?  Good, ladies, take your time coming down the aisle… good, not too fast… what is that photographer doing now?  I wish I could tell him to get out of the way!  Okay, good.  Now the ring bearer and flower girl.  O God, please let them make it down the aisle, good nice and easy, ignore the photographer, he just thinks he is in charge… good, good. Now the bride.  Isn’t she beautiful?  Aren’t they always?  And look at the groom.  Still steady.  Sweating, but steady.  Good.  It is always a pleasure to see the wonder and joy on the groom’s face when he sees the bride appear in the church.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that joy and wonder would last beyond today?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to look at our spouse each day with such awe and wonder? Okay, Dad, bring your daughter up to the altar.  Good.  Dad, hold it together.  You can do it.  Good!  Great… all in place. Let us Pray:  O God, source of infinite love, and giver of the greatest gift in love, bless us with a sense of your presence as we celebrate the coming together of these two lives…. God, did you hear that?  Of course you did.  Be present as these two lives come together.   For you tell us that when a couple is married, they become one, no longer two but one.  United.  Together.  One!  What a beautiful way of putting it.  Two become one. Who gives this woman to be married to this man? Come on Dad, you know what to say… Her mother and I!  Spit it out.  Good.  Kiss your daughter.  Place her hand in his.  Have a seat.  She will take it from here. Wow!  How difficult that must be for Dad, and Mom, too, for both sets of parents.  You raise your child with what you believe are good values, good faith, a good home.  Then you let go… give them to their spouse.  Oh, yes, you will still love them, care for them.  But you gotta let go.  Are these kids ready?  Have Moms and Dads done all they can to prepare them for this day?  We raise our children to love you, God, and to love one another, as you first loved us.  We try to protect our children from all that the world throws our way, all the conflicting messages, all the stuff that seems to get in the way of you, God, and of one another.   We teach our children how special marriage is, how two become one in the presence of God.  But there is so much that seems to be pulling people apart, so many things that stand in the way of our relationship with you, God, and with one another.  That is what sin is, isn’t it?  It is the stuff that gets in the way of our relationship with you, and makes us selfish, proud, unwilling to reach out to others.  There is no way we can be in relationship with another if we are not able to reach out to another.  We alienate ourselves from you, God, and from one another.  We are sinners! A reading from St. Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth: (I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this at a wedding!) 4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends…. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.  Do you think they heard that, God?  Oh yes, I know they love each other, but they are so young.  They look at each other and see perfection in each other.  What is going to happen when reality sets in?  What is going to happen when the luster and beauty of this day wears off?  That is when the love kicks in!  The love you show us through your Son.  Not this googly eyed “there is nothing I would ever want to change in you” mentality, but a deeper love.  A love that goes beyond the surface to the heart.  A love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  A love that is a foundation. A love that is based on your love for us, O God.  That giddy love may have brought them here today, but it is the love that is patient, kind, seeks the truth that will see them beyond today. What is the photographer doing now?  I wish he would just sit down! Will you take this woman to be your wedded wife?  Will you love, honor, and cherish her, and keep with her this bond of wedlock holy and unbroken till death you do part? If so answer, “I do!” Holy and unbroken.  God, do you think they mean it?  Do you think they understand it?  Holy means set apart for service to God.  A marriage set apart for God.  Lofty goals, don’t you think?  But what better to strive for?  Unbroken, Now there is a strong promise especially today when separation and divorce seem to be a part of so many families – even in the families of the couple that stands before me.  They know what divorce is… it has hit close to home, as it has with almost all of us, God.  So what do we say to these young people, and old people as well, who come to the altar, to your presence, to be joined together in marriage?  Should we let it go, and hope for the best?  I don’t think so.  I believe we need to remind them of their promises, and encourage them to keep them.  We are sinners, God.  And try as we might to keep our relationships holy and unbroken, we are not perfect.  We fall short in our relationships with you, God, and with one another, even our spouse.  You know that we are broken vessels.  You know that we are not perfect.  We are broken people.  Broken people have broken relationships.  But just as you have forgiven us, we are called to forgive one another, and to strive to make our relationships holy and unbroken.  But what happens if the marriage does become broken?  What will happen if these kids, some day, get to a point where the relationship is so broken, it is beyond repair?  Or what happens when the relationship is no longer possible, due to mental of physical issues or even legal issues beyond their control? Do we tell them, “If you don’t keep your promise, we won’t let you back in?”  Or do we welcome them in and completely ignore the pain of separation?  O God, you know that divorce is sometimes the unfortunate result.  No one comes to the altar on their wedding day hoping for such an outcome.  But if a relationship comes to that, help them, as well as all your children, to know that you are a loving and forgiving God, whose love is never ending. Use us, O God, to welcome the broken into this place, a holy place, a place of repentance and forgiveness.  Let us welcome your child, so all may know of your love. Oh, watch out, the best man’s knees are starting to buckle!  Time to move on! This man and woman, by their promises before God, and in the presence of this congregation, have bound themselves to one another as husband and wife.  I declare them to be husband and wife in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  What God has joined together let no one separate! Powerful words from your Son, O God.  Words all of us need to hear.  Use us to build up instead of break down:  To forgive, to love, to nurture, to challenge, but not to separate. You may kiss the bride! 

OK…. Enough already – this is a church you know!
Down the aisle. Someone get the photographer off the pew!

Well, God, we did it again!  God, bless this man and woman.  Bless all who are joined in marriage.  Two are better than one, but how much stronger the will be if together with them, you make it three!  God bless them.  God bless us! Amen  

One Response to “A Wedding Prayer”

  1. Linda Snyder says:

    An inspiring, beautiful and especially meaningful sermon, and particularly for me that weekend! Thank you again for your time, counsel, and listening ear last week.- Linda

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