Andy and I have been deeply involved with and heavily invested in the passage of the Marriage Act in New York. Our ministry in community has reached out from within the neighborhood into city wide efforts to create loving and justice-seeking actions. And today we celebrate with all those who are making their covenants legal, renewing their promises and/or enlarging the scope of the marriage rite. Our gift to you who are looking for just the right words to express love and care for each other is the Marriage Service/Covenant Renewal Service we performed with friends.  

Celebration of Renewal – Marriage Ceremony

July 24, 2011

Presented by Rev Jenna Zirbel, MS, MTS, MDiv

For Rainbow Community Cares, Inc.

And Church Within A Church Movement, Inc

Permission to use context may be obtained by emailing


We have gathered here to celebrate and renew the promises of love we have from our Creator and the ones that we have made to each other. We wish to demonstrate commitment to a vision of living a healthier, happier life with each other, our soul mates and friends. You may repeat the promises you have made to each other when you first committed to live in covenantal love.  We have two readings for inspiration and spiritual guidance. We will share communion together as a way of affirming and transforming our intentions to lead holy, healthy lives in the power of the Source of all life.

Having experienced love, we look for ways to grow in love with our lives and to heal. One way is to do what we are doing today; recognizing the presence of love in our lives whose source and depth is unfathomable and opening to that love so we may flourish. We are making a conscious and focused effort to ignore the noisy distractions and allow the spirit of love fill our mind, body and spirit.

Selected Poem/Prose/Hymn “Spirit”

Spirit, spirit of gentleness.
Blow through the wilderness, calling and free.
Spirit, spirit of restlessness. Stir me from placidness.
Wind, wind on the sea.

1. You moved on the waters, You called to the deep,
Then You coaxed up the mountains. From the valley of sleep,
And over the eons You called to each thing,
“A wake from your slumbers and rise on your wings.”
2. You swept through the dessert, You stung with the sand,
And You gifted your people With a law and a land,
And when they were blinded With their idols and lies,
Then You spoke through Your prophets To open their eyes.
3. You sang in a stable, You cried from a hill,
Then You whispered in silence When the whole world was still,
And down in the city You called once again
When You blew through Your people On the rush of the wind.
4. You call from tomorrow, You break ancient schemes,
From the bondage of sorrow The captives dream dreams;
Our women see visions, Our men clear their eyes.
With bold new decisions Your people arise.

(Perhaps one verse at a time throughout this service)



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 now as you become legally married. Third, to recognize how relationships influence the wellbeing of all life.

K has something K would like to say and will give you time to tell K what you want. 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.

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.

Do you want to make/renew your marriage vows?

This is a real choice you and your partner can make, yes or no.

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 know people in our lives that have been examples, sometimes examples of how not to be, but more helpfully that act as a guide! 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, and 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 most enduring of the three is love.


Proclamation and Promise

Repeat promises couple has selected.

Prayer for Couple

John 15 [Selected verses]

to endure, to heal, to bless each other,

to cherish and honor what we experience when we love the other as self

not giving over self, but offering the gifts we have been given to share


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 us, 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 today 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.