Marriage

    Thanksgiving for Marriage
     
 
Note
 
     
    This outline service is designed for a number of different occasions. It may be used:
     
         on occasions when a number of couples reaffirm their vows together;
     
         to celebrate an anniversary;
     
         after a time of separation or difficulty in marriage;
     
         either at home or in church;
     
         combined with another service, such as the Holy Communion.
     
    For each occasion, suitable prayers and other words should be chosen - with the couple if that is appropriate - from the resources which follow, or elsewhere. One way of amplifying the Outline Order for the first occasion above, which might be a major church occasion where some formality is right, is provided in the service which follows here. On other occasions much may be done informally or extempore.
     
     
   
    Thanksgiving for Marriage: An Outline Order
     
     
   
Introduction
 
  1
  Welcome
     
2
  Prayer of Preparation
     
  3
  Preface
     
4
  Readings
     
  5
  Psalms, Songs or Hymns
     
6
  Sermon
     
   
Renewal of Vows
 
     
7
  The couple(s) are invited to renew their marriage vows in a suitable form.
     
8
  A ring or rings may be blessed.
     
9
  Prayers are offered, including prayers of thanksgiving and blessing.
     
     
   
    Thanksgiving for Marriage:
A Sample Service
     
     
    This sample service is derived from the Outline Order above.
     
     
  Introduction
     
   
The Welcome
 
     
    The minister welcomes the people, introduces the service informally and invites those present to pray.
     
    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with you
All
  and also with you. 
     
    This sentence may be used
     
    God is love, and those who live in love live in God
and God lives in them.
   
1 John 4.16
     
   
Prayer of Preparation
 
     
    God our Father,
you have taught us through your Son
that love is the fulfilling of the law;
grant to your servants N and N
that, loving one another,
they may continue in your love until their lives' end;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
All
  Amen.
     
    A hymn or song may be sung.
     
   
Preface
 
     
    We have come together in the presence of God
to give thanks [with N and N] for [… years of] married life,
[to ask his forgiveness for all that has been amiss,] *
to rejoice together and to ask for God's blessing.
As our Lord Jesus Christ was himself a guest
at the wedding in Cana of Galilee,
so through his Spirit he is with us now.
Marriage is a gift of God in creation
and a means of his grace;
it is given that a husband and wife
may comfort and help each other,
living faithfully together
in times of need as well as in plenty,
in sadness and in joy, in sickness and in health;
it is given that with delight and tenderness
they may know each other in love.
[It is given as the foundation of family life
in which children may be born and nurtured
in accordance with God's will, to his praise and glory.]
In marriage a couple belong together
and live life in the community;
it is a way of life created and hallowed by God,
that all should honour.
Therefore we pray with them
that, strengthened and guided by God,
they may continue to fulfil his purpose for their life together.
     
    * There may be occasions when this should be omitted; it may be important to include it when a couple are celebrating their reconciliation.
     
    Silence is kept for reflection on the years that have passed and on shared experiences, good and bad.
     
   
Readings and Sermon
 
     
    One or more passages from the Bible is read.
Psalms or hymns may follow the readings. Other songs and readings may be used.

A sermon may be preached.
     
  Renewal of Vows
     
    The minister says to the couple(s)
     
    I invite you now to recall the vows that you made at your wedding.
     
    Husband and wife face each other and hold hands.
     
    The husband says
     
    I, N , took you, N , to be my wife;
     
    The wife says  
     
    I, N , took you, N , to be my husband;
     
    The couple say together
     
    to have and to hold from that day forward,
for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish,
till death us do part, according to God's holy law,
and this was our solemn vow.
Today, in the presence of our family and friends,
we affirm our continuing commitment to this vow.
     
    The minister says to the congregation
     
    Will you, the family and friends of N and N,
continue to support and uphold them
in their marriage now and in the years to come?
All
  We will.
     
   
The Rings
 
     
    If a new ring (or new rings) is to be blessed, this prayer may be used
     
    Heavenly Father, source of everlasting love,
revealed to us in Jesus Christ
      and poured into our hearts through your Holy Spirit;
that love which many waters cannot quench, 
      neither the floods drown;
that love which is patient and kind, enduring all things without end;
by your blessing, let these rings be to N and N
symbols to remind them of the covenant made on their wedding day,
through your grace in the love of your Son
and in the power of your Spirit. 
All
  Amen.
     
    If a ring (or rings) is to be given these words are used
     
    I give you this ring
as a sign of our marriage.
With my body I honour you,
all that I am I give to you,
and all that I have I share with you,
within the love of God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
     
    Or, if not, each may touch the wedding ring(s) with the words
     
    I gave you this ring
as a sign of our marriage.
With my body I honour you,
all that I am I give to you,
and all that I have I share with you,
within the love of God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
     
   
Prayers
 
     
    The couple kneel together. The minister or others may pray, using these or similar prayers
     
    God the Father,
God the Son,
God the Holy Spirit,
bless, preserve and keep you;
the Lord mercifully grant you the riches of his grace
that you may please him both in body and soul,
and, living together in faith and love,
may receive the blessings of eternal life. 
All
  Amen.
     
    Blessed are you, heavenly Father.
All
  You give joy to husband and wife.
     
    Blessed are you, Lord Jesus Christ.
All
  You have brought new life to mankind.
     
    Blessed are you, Holy Spirit of God.
All
  You bring us together in love.
     
    Blessed be Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
All
  One God, to be praised for ever.  Amen.
     
    Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we lift up our hearts to you
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Through him you have made a covenant of grace with your people
by the outpouring of your Holy Spirit.

We praise you for the gift of marriage
in which the love of husband and wife is brought together
and reflects your plan of love for the world.

We thank you today for N and N,
and for leading them to each other
in friendship and love, commitment and trust,
and for bringing them here for the blessing of their marriage.

Living God,
by the presence of your Holy Spirit,
may they know the risen Christ to be with them now,
as they celebrate this covenant together.
May their lives be a witness to your saving love
in this troubled world.

As you pour out your love,
may they grow together in your sight,
and each be to the other
a companion in joy, a comfort in sorrow and a strength in need.

As you blessed the earthly home at Nazareth
with the presence of your Son,
may their home be a place of security and peace.
[Bless this couple with the gift and care of children,
that they may grow up to know and love you in your Son.]

And bring us all at the last
to that great marriage banquet of your Son
in our home in heaven,
where, with all your saints and angels,
in the glory of your presence,
we will for ever praise you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
All
  Amen.
     
   
The Lord's Prayer
 
     
    As our Saviour taught us, so we pray
     
All
  Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever. 
Amen. 
     
    (or)
     
    Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
     
All
  Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory
for ever and ever. 
Amen.
     
   
The Dismissal
 
     
    The couple may pray together
     
    Heavenly Father,
we offer you our souls and bodies,
our thoughts and words and deeds,
our love for one another.
Unite our wills in your will,
that we may grow together
in love and peace
all the days of our life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
All
  Amen.
     
    The minister blesses the couple and the congregation, saying
     
    God the Holy Trinity make you strong in faith and love,
defend you on every side, and guide you in truth and peace;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. 
All
  Amen.