May 20, 2006
Somebody Got Hitched!
You, Autumn and Jerry, have assembled us, your dearest friends, family, and neighbors, to witness your joy and love as you pledge yourselves to one another in marriage. Marriage is a vital secular and religious tradition, one that spans millennia, continents, political systems, and religious beliefs. In fact, the Homeric epics, both nearly three thousand years old, still stand as testaments to our most important cultural values today, and both have marriage and love at their centers: in the Iliad, Menalous gathers the greatest force that the Greek city states have ever seen in order to rescue his wife Helen from Troy. In the Odyssey, Odysseus endures ten years of wandering to return to his faithful wife Penelope. Homer states that “there is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.”
Marriage is in many ways a simplification of life, and it naturally combines the strengths and wills of two people so that, together, they seem to reach farther into the future than they did before. Above all, marriage is a new task and a new seriousness—a new demand on the strength and generosity of each partner, and a great new danger for both. The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of their solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust, which might be best symbolized by the marriage bed of Odysseus and Penelope. Built by Odysseus out of a living oak tree, their bed is the center of their castle and kingdom, unmovable by no man. Like the tree, their love continues to grow and change, but remains true, fixed to the earth on the solid roots of friendship and trust. This love is grounded, but spiritual, too, like that epitomized by Shakespeare’s sonnet 116:
. . . Love is not love
Marriage is a union made beautiful, and dependent on, love. It is for a lifetime and is to be based on selfless love. The only and proper motive for marriage is that each wants to make the other happy. Marriage lasts through the ravages of time and the vicissitudes it brings through mutual understanding and empathy. When companions share a sorrow, it is halved, and when they share a joy, it is doubled. Remember that while the road may sometimes take unexpected turns, you have both decided to undertake this journey together.
God of Love, who gives us the longing for, and capability of loving, we give you thanks for Autumn and Jerry, for their open hearts and willing spirits, and for the example of love that they embody here in our presence. Be with them on this joyous occasion of showing their love and making their vows; and be with us, their witnesses, that we may all be changed by what is said and witnessed here.
Autumn and Jerry have composed their own vows to each other.
Autumn reads her prepared vows.
Jerry reads his prepared vows:
|“||Autumn, I promise to always be present, there for whatever you need, want, and wish for. To share in and heighten that joy you see in the everyday. To smile more, to laugh everyday, to trust in you and your love for me. To help guide and be guided by your insights, passions, and spirit. I promise to listen to you always, with an open mind and heart, to have faith in our new life together, and to remember always that I am the luckiest.||”|
Autumn, will you take Jerry to be your husband, your partner in life, and your one true love? Will you cherish your union and love him more each day than you did the day before? Will you trust and respect him, laugh with him and cry with him, loving him faithfully through good times and bad, regardless of the obstacles you may face together? Will you give him your hand, your heart, and your love, from this day forward for as long as you both shall live? She answers "I do."
Jerry, will you take Autumn to be your wife, your partner in life, and your one true love? Will you cherish your union and love her more each day than you did the day before? Will you trust and respect her, laugh with her and cry with her, loving her faithfully through good times and bad, regardless of the obstacles you may face together? Will you give her your hand, your heart, and your love, from this day forward for as long as you both shall live? He answers "I do."
Musical Interlude: Jesse sings.
Roman belief had it that the wedding ring is to be worn on the third finger of the left hand since this finger contained a vein that ran directly to the heart. The Romans also associated this finger with the sun; therefore, the wearing of a band of gold signifies the public proclamation of the union in the daylight for the whole community to acknowledge. The importance of these rings lies, therefore, in their symbolic power. They are the pledges of light and love emanating from the heart of the wearers. Let them ever be as they are now: a source of pride and joy.
Autumn, you will place the ring on Jerry’s finger and repeat after me: “Jerry, with this ring, I pledge my life and love to you.”
Jerry, you will place the ring on Autumn’s finger and repeat after me: “Autumn, with this ring, I pledge my life and love to you.”
We will close the ceremony with an Apache marriage blessing:
Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be the shelter for each other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be the warmth for the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before. Go now to your dwelling place to enter into the days of your life together. And may your days be good and long upon the earth. Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulty and fear assail your relationship—as they threaten all relationships at one time or another—remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives—remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.
Since Autumn and Jerry have made these commitments before you, their family and friends, by the authority of whatever higher power you believe in, I declare that Autumn and Jerry are now wife and husband. Autumn, you may kiss your groom.