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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Under One Chuppah

Note: This is the Interfaith Service for the Blessing of a Marriage which I designed for last evening's service. I used resources from a couple of places, mostly, however, from the pages of Xeroxed notes which the couple got from the Rent-A-Rabbi. Turns out, he was a great guy - lots more fun in person than experience through e-mail or even phone conversations. Oh, and we clergy were resplendent: he wore his white robe, tallis and kippah and I was in cassock, surplice and festive stole. I'm including the service below so those of you who have never attended one will know what it's like. Or, for those clergy who have never officiated at one of these services will have at least on online resource. I tried to make it as 'inclusive' as possible - a real sharing of the liturgical leadership, which I had not seen in any of the information the Rabbi had given me. Hope this is helpful to you.


Gathering Prayer and Welcome

Priest: Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony. The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people.

Rabbi: As you know, no Cantor, Priest, Rabbi, Minister or Public Official can marry you. Only you can marry yourselves. By a mutual commitment to love each other, to work toward creating an atmosphere of care and consideration and respect, by the willingness to face the tensions and anxieties that underlie human life, you can make your wedded life come alive today.

Priest: We are grateful to God, the source of all creation, for the loving care of parents and grandparents who are here in body and spirit, the ones that have helped Libby and Wyatt become the individuals that they are today.

Rabbi: From this day forward, you must come closer together, closer than ever before. You must love one another in good times and bad, in prosperity and adversity, but at the same time your love should give you the strength to stand apart. To seek your unique destinies, to make your special contribution to the world, which is always part of us and more than we are.

Priest: Into this holy union Libby and Wyatt now come to be joined. If any of you can show just cause why they may not lawfully be married, speak now, or forever hold your peace.

Rabbi: I require and charge you both, here in the presence of God, that if either of you know any reason why you may not be united in marriage lawfully, and in accordance with God’s Word, you do now confess it.

Priest: Libby, will you have this man to be your husband; to live together in the covenant of 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?

Libby: I will.

Rabbi: Wyatt, will you have this woman to be your wife; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?

Wyatt: I will

Priest and Rabbi: Will all of you witnessing these promises do all in your power to uphold these two persons in their marriage?

Congregation: We will.

Priest: Who presents this woman to be married to this man?

Parents: We do.

Rabbi: Who presents this man to be married to this woman?

Parents: We do.

Priest: Let us pray: O gracious and ever living God, you have created us male and female in your image: Look mercifully upon this man and this woman who have come to you, seeking your blessing, and assist them with your grace, that with true fidelity and steadfast love they may honor and keep the promises and vows they make.

Congregation: Amen.

Rabbi: Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Mechlech Ha-olam. Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe: You call us to holiness and invite us to be fruitful and multiply, and You summon us to Your service, inspiring us to sanctify our life. We praise you, O God: You sanctify our life.

Congregation: Amen.

A Reading from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians (13:1-13)

If I speak in the tongues of humans and angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimply, but then face to face. So faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Homily: the Rev’d Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton

The Marriage Vows

Rabbi: Wyatt, please take Libby’s right hand in yours and state your vows.

Wyatt: I, Wyatt, take you, Libby, to be my wife. Today I love you completely, as I did yesterday and I will tomorrow. I will be there for you when you need me most. I will hold you in my heart as I do in my arms. I will share in your dreams, delight in your joys, and comfort you in sorrow. I will be your confidant, your counsel, your friend, and your lover. As we grow old together and our love matures, I promise to hold on to the passion and affection I feel for you today. This is my solemn vow.

Priest: Libby, please take Wyatt’s right hand in yours and state your vows/

Libby: I, Libby, take you, Wyatt, to be my husband. Today I love you completely, as I did yesterday and I will tomorrow. I will be there for you when you need me most. I will hold you in my heart as I do in my arms. I will share in your dreams, delight in your joys, and comfort you in sorrow. I will be your confidant, your counsel, your friend, and your lover. As we grow old together and our love matures, I promise to hold on to the passion and affection I feel for you today. This is my solemn vow.

The Rings

Rabbi: The circle has always been a symbol of God, without a beginning and without an end and no sign of weakness. The circle is a reminder of the eternal quality of God and God’s unending strength. Thus, these rings serve to remind us of the relationship that Libby and Wyatt have with God as well as with each other.

Priest: Bless, O Lord, theses rings to be a sign of the vows by which Libby and Wyatt have bound themselves to each other. Amen.

Rabbi: Wyatt, take this ring which you have prepared as a symbol of your marriage to Libby and, placing it on her finger, recite these words which will bind you together in marriage:

Wyatt: Libby, I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I am and all that I have, I honor you and join my life with yours.

Priest: Libby, take this ring which you have prepared as a symbol of your marriage to Wyatt and, placing it on his finger, recite these words which will bind you together in marriage.

Libby: Wyatt, I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I am and all that I have, I honor you and joy my life with yours.

The Chuppah

Rabbi: The Chuppah that you are standing under together is a symbol of the promise of your future home. Its openness pledges that there can be no secrets. Friends and family stand at its corners to help support this structure. It teaches us that the Bride and Groom are covered by holiness and the memory of the commandments. It reminds us that the only thing that is real about a home is the people in it. The people who love each other and who choose to be together, to be a family.

Libby and Wyatt, standing under this Chuppah, I want both of you to know that this is the only true anchor of life that will be – that of holding on to each other.

Baruch Atah Adonoy, Eloheynu Melecha Ha-Olam, Mi-Ka-Deish Amo Yisrael, Al Yiday Chuppah V’Ki-du-shin.

We praise You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe; You sanctify your people Israel under the marriage canopy.

The Wine

Priest: Holy and Gracious God, we give thanks for all of our many blessings, but in this moment we give special thanks for the love You have implanted within the hearts of Libby and Wyatt. In this hour we pray, O Lord, that You will bless them with health and strength, with an ever-growing understanding and compassion. Continue what You have started in their hearts. In this hour, we pray that the blessing that You have bestowed upon our ancestors, You will bestow upon them. It is in this spirit that I ask you, Wyatt, to offer this cup of wine to Libby and after she has sipped it, I ask you to sip it to as the Rabbi asks the blessing:

Rabbi: Baruch Atah Adonoy, Eloheynu Melech Ha-Olam, B’Orie P’rei Ha-Gafen.
We praise you, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

You found that this wine is bittersweet. It is meant to symbolize all of life. My prayer is that, as easily as you share this cup of wine, so will you continue to share everything in your lives. And perhaps in this wine there can be the magic which comes when people love each other and live together in life. There is inevitable bitterness in life but it will become less bitter because there is someone to share it with. The inevitable sweetness in life will be doubled because there is someone to share it with. Let this cup of wine, which sanctifies your marriage, to be a symbol of that, as you approach the moment when you come before God and before humankind as husband and wife.

The Ketubah

A traditional marriage certificate, a Ketubah, has been prepared and it says: Ani L’Dodi V’Dodi Li, which translates: “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine. No man without woman and no woman without man and neither of them without their faith.” This is the basis for this Ceremony and the reason we are here today. It is for all of this, all of you who are here today, to witness the marriage of Libby and Wyatt, who will now sign the Ketubah.

The Final Blessings

Priest: I wrap your hands in my priestly stole, the symbol of my vows to the God of Abraham and Sarah and, together with the Rabbi's tallis on your hands, offer these blessings on your marriage:

Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who art the source of all gladness and joy. Through thy grace we attain affection, companionship and peace.

Rabbi: Grant O Lord, that the love that units this bride and groom may grow in abiding happiness and joy. May their family life be ennobled through their devotion to their faith. May there be peace in their home, quietness and confidence in their hearts

Priest:. May they be sustained by thy comforting presence in the midst of our people, and by the promise of salvation for all humankind.

Rabbi: Baruch Atah Adonoy. Blessed art thou O Lord, who does unite this Bride and this Groom in holy joy.

The Pronouncement

Priest and Rabbi: Now that Libby and Wyatt have given themselves to each other by solemn vows, with the joining of hands and the giving and receiving of rings, we now pronounce you husband and wife.

The Benediction

Priest: And in this spirit we ask God’s blessing on you!

Rabbi: Y’Varechecha Adonoy V’Yishmarecha
Priest: May the Lord bless you.

Rabbi: Yah Air Adonoy Panav Aeylecha, V’Vchunecha
Priest: May God’s spirit shine into your home and into your hearts, and may God give you a life filled with grace.

Rabbi: Ye’Sah Adonoy Panav Aelecha V’Yasein L’Cha Shalom.
Priest: May God grant you fulfillment, happiness and God’s most precious gift, the gift of peace, in your home, in your heart and in your married lives together.

Congregation: Amen!

The Breaking of the Glass

Rabbi: if you did not break a piece of glass, there are people who would say, “They’re not really married.” What this glass symbolizes is that life is fragile, marriage is fragile. You have to coddle it and protect it as I have coddled and protected this glass. I pray that you will be happy with each other, and that you will be good to each other. May you always drink from the full and the empty will crush beneath you. In accordance with the ancient tradition, we wish that the years of your marriage be no less than the time that it would take to fit the fragments back together.

And so, break the glass, and when you do, we will all say MAZEL TOV, which means Congratulations.

Congregation: MAZEL TOV!

The First Kiss

Priest: Ladies and Gentlemen, I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. Wyatt *******. Libby and Wyatt, you may now share your first kiss as husband and wife.



Anonymous said...

I understand you are an Episcopal priest, Elizabeth. But I found no reference to Jesus Christ in the wedding. Considering the Episcopal Church is a Christian Church, I wondered how you could omit any references to Christian beliefs.

Joan O.
Vancouver WA

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Wow! What a great interfaith service! Sounds like everyone had a great day!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I "snuck" one in during the sermon. See that one below.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Kirke. It was good medicine, just what was needed to get me through the rest of the week end murder of a dear friend and colleague.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Joan, BTW, it is understood that, in an Interfaith Service, because of the Historical use of the Gospel (the Crusades, the Holocaust, etc, etc., etc., which has been used to persecute the Jews), we Christians can afford to be generous and sensitive to not specifically mentioning Jesus because of his torture and death b/c he was a Jew. As I said, I did "sneak" in a reference in my sermon with "The Rabbi I follow . . ." which got a giggle from both Jews and Christians in the 'congregation'. They knew what I was doing and they appreciated my discretion and sensitivity. I think that's what being a good Christian leader is all about. This was a joyous occasion. Everyone made compromises, yet tried to blend our traditions as this couple will in their new life together.

Thanks for asking the question so I might provide an answer.

Fr Craig said...

EK - tears in my eyes. I have two sisters in law who married Jews, and my favorite person in the world is one of my Jewish brother's in law. I fell in love with Torah before Jesus - long story. I will, with your permission save this. what a joy to share in our Lord's patrimony, the blessings and grace of our mutual God of love and joy. Given you sadness with Fr. Ed (that also brought tears to my eyes...), I'm glad God gave you some of his joy to balance that pain. S'what I preached this AM, God never leaves us bereft and derelict, God's blessings are always the answer to our suffering. Thanks so much. (by the way, I recounted your tale of Fr. Ed's grace in my forum, and it was greatly appreciated)

Kay & Sarah said...

This Wedding Feast was blessed by the presence of God, the God of both families, the presence of the Holy Spirit settled on all those present. Do we have to invoke and speak his name to the winds of time to know that he was there with you. When we speak the name of God, don't we also invoke the three in one.

What a wonderful Gift of Love that was given to the Married couple.

JimB said...

It is beautiful and sensitive. If I knew someone who was considering an 'inter faith' marriage I would suggest it immediately.


MarkBrunson said...

You know what I find just great here, Elizabeth?

Here, we have this lengthy, beautiful post, that most intelligent and compassionate people find very moving. Underlying it, the story of a people who brought us the Mosaic Law, and yet invited a lesbian to participate in such a vital way; the story, too, of a people who have been murdered by Christians in pogroms, inquisitions, even crusades, have heard over centuries Christian leadership speak of Jews sacrificing Christian children on Passover, have been called Christ-killers, etc. and yet, open this wonderful, profoundly meaningful rite of their faith to a Christian priest.

What's sad? Through all of that, having read it and - one supposes - comprehended it, one Christian, somewhere, could only think, "She didn't proselytize! I'm going to complain about that!"

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Mark. I think 'Anonymous Joan O' will probably never read your wonderful comment. I've discovered that most of the 'orthodox' seems to delight in the practice of "drive-by snarking".

MarkBrunson said...

I know.

But, if she does come back to see her handiwork, at least I've said it and discharged my duty. She'll have no excuse.

Rabbi RICHARD GAMBOA said...

It´s a great effort offering this ceremonial for interfaith marriages. I'm an interreligios leader of UPF and many couples of several religious traditions ask to me blessing to them. Good work Elizabeth, go ahead and congratulations for your work on-line.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Rabbi. If you're ever in North Jersey, I'd be happy to stand under the Chuppah with you and co-officiate.