I began writing this covenant renewal service with a friend at work who wanted to celebrate five years of marriage and to heal a rift in their lives. It was exciting to plan and take part in this event since my friend has never “gone to church” and is married to a Catholic. Because I am ordained in a church movement, how we “do things” is evolving within the tradition. I have discovered a place of freedom where I can be responsive to the situation specific to the people gathered, looking forward to the designs of the Holy Spirit rather than conformity to a rule. Good thing, since conforming is not a high priority in life.
I am anxious to do more toward gathering people for shared spiritual events of celebration and healing in the love of Christ Jesus. I faithfully pray for the opportunity to help shape and care with people gathered to BE church, the body of Christ, in expressions of our common “Belovedness” lived in diverse experiences. I have talked with individuals who are really interested but extremely cautious about getting too quickly involved. This weblog may help us begin to carefully connect with each other. People may understand more about what I represent as an ordained servant leader. I am sure, like this renewal service, the nature of the services over which I preside will be formed around those of us involved. That’s the most exciting part for me.
A Celebration of Renewal – Covenantal Ceremony
For K and J
K arranged for us to gather here to tell you how much she/he loves you and to show you that she/he is serious about her/his vision to live a healthier, happier life with you as her/his soul mate. And then she/he hopes to repeat the promises you both made when you were married. We have two readings for inspiration and spiritual guidance. We will share communion together as a way of affirming our intentions to lead holy, healthy lives.
Having experienced love, we look for ways to grow love with our lives and heal. One way is to do what we are doing today; recognize the presence of love in our lives and honor that love, making a conscious and focused effort to ignore noisy distractions and grow in mind, body and spirit.
Poem/Prose – reading selected
K arranged this gathering first to celebrate a promise you made to each other 5 years ago. A promise to live in love and care. Second, to renew your promises to each other and third, to recognize how relationships influence the wellbeing of all life on this earth.
I picked a reading I believe will help guide us to understanding the love shared here, between you two, in a particular and very special way, that is rooted deeply in the sacred everyday life of the world. K has something she/he would like to say and will give you time to tell her/him what you want.
We all understand that lives change, people we love and care about grow in their own identities, and our own needs and desires change as we come to more fully know ourselves. And it is only through these changes that relationships grow stronger, healthy and more vital.
K’s writing is read.
Do you want to renew your marriage vows?
[This has to be really a choice your partner can make Y/N]
We need each other to experience and understand love’s true strength, to have examples of how to live and to heal, to grow and be happy. We have people in our lives who have been examples, sometimes even examples of how not to be! We need each other to love.
Prose reading on love (1 Corinthians 13 adapted):
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant
or rude. It does not insist on having its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it is not happy about acting hurtful, but is joyful in sincerity and kindness.
It puts up with a lot of hard things, believes in the good of things, hopes through all things, continues through all things.
Love never ends, even though it sometimes grows weary. Predictions will come to an end, either realized or not; beautiful prose and poetry will need new interpretations as times change; new ways of thinking about things will always challenge what we believe as we grow and learn about life. We are not destined to remain naïve and without reasoning even though we do not know the outcome of the decision that we make. Faith, hope, and love live on forever, these three; and the greatest of the three is love.
Proclamation and Promise
Repeat promises couple has selected.
Prayer for Couple
John 15 [selected verses adapted]:
4 Live in me as I live in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit unless it lives connected to the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.
5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who live in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.
The eternal spirit of creation is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and follow in caring kindness and healing love.
9 As the [creator loves] so I have loved you; now live in my love.
10 If you [love one another] you will live in my love, . . .
11 I have lived with you this way so that the joy of life’s source may be in you, and that your joy shared may be whole, healthy and inclusive.
12 “This is the imperative for you, that you love one another as I have loved you. . . .
14 In the connection of all life, we are friends . . . I share with you everything I have experienced in relationship with the [the source of all life.].
16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I have appointed you to go and bear fruit, kindness and goodness that will last, . . . that will provide you what you ask for [in love.]
I am telling you this so that you love one another. Together we belong to the eternal One, lover of your life and your soul, in whose image you were formed, in whose love you were born. You were born out of love to live freely to express the love and joy of creation.
Inclusive Words of Thanksgiving and Institution
We give thanks, Holy One, eternal Lover of all, present always and everywhere. We recognize the continual care and love living in creation, and in that cherished image we live in relationship with the source of life. Although we at times turn away from loving other as self, pretending we have only ourselves to care for and love, the loving source of all life is never taken away from any of us. We make barriers with angry words, self centeredness overwhelming shared concern, denying respect for self and other in our relationships. The spirit of creation and renewal is brought back into focus through prophets and teachers, visionaries and dreamers inspired by the source of all life. That word of hope, renewal lived wondrously in Christ Jesus. We give thanks for the countless living expressions of love, especially for that uniquely given through Christ Jesus’ sharing at table, with life renewing promise.
Healthy living is an individual as well as a community thing, everyday holiness is nurtured in ourselves, with our family, friends and neighbors, near and far. We will share bread and juice, fruit given to all as beloved people of God, a loving gift of the earth. The Spirit of God made visible in the life of Christ guides us to wholeness. May we recognize how love connects us to the loving creator, source of eternal love.
With thankful hearts, take and eat the bread – nourishment for life everlasting; drink the fruit of the vine – a promise of love kept; gifts prepared by human hands. Let them represent for us God’s boundless love that gives life that endures, that heals, that enables us to bless and cherish others. Share this gift with the person whom you have tonight vowed to love, and then, strengthened and renewed, share that love of God with all the people that you encounter in your daily living.
Prayer following communion:
May this sharing strengthen us by the spirit of God to live and invest that love to cherish and honor what we experience when we love the other as self. Realize how your loving and caring for others, not giving over self, but offering the gifts you have been given ripen and mature as they are shared.