Saturday, October 18, 2003

The Ceremony

Performed by Rev. Karen Winkle from the Bountiful Community Church of Christ

Love comes from God. Everyone who truly loves is a child of God. Let us join in celebrating the power of God’s love.

You may be seated.

We are here today because Lindi and Connie have asked us to bear witness to their love. Together, we are here not only to name this love, but to acknowledge it and respect it.

As family and friends, it is appropriate that we be here, for we are Connie and Lindi’s community of the heart. A community which meets in this way only this once, but which is as real and indissolvable as the deep affection we hold in common for them.

Surely the joys and sorrows which we have shared—some of us with Lindi, some of us with Connie—have contributed much to the molding of who they are at this moment. And surely our presence now gives voice to our desire to support the covenant they are making to one another.

As we gather, we also feel the presence of those who could not be here, either because of death or distance, and we feel their love and their blessings on this joyful day.

So we gather mindful of the fruits of love and of pain and of time. Respectful of the effect we have on each other’s lives. Grateful that so much of the past is gathered together and lifted up on this day in these two lives, whom we now see are intended to be one.

Let us now unite in prayer.

O God, our Maker, Lover of the heavens and earth, you have commanded us to love each other as Christ loved us, to bear each other's weaknesses, and share each other's strengths. Look with favor on Lindi and Connie, whom you have brought together in love. Grant them caring, and faithfulness, sincere love, and constant strength. Protect them from trouble and danger, and bring them together to the banquet of your heavenly reign through Jesus Christ, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Standing before God, and among you, their family and friends, Connie and Lindi come to pledge themselves to each other in a covenant of Holy Union. This is a timeless and sacred moment, a moment of hope and expectation. We witness the making of a covenant, as two persons publicly declare their intent to enter into an intimate relationship of enduring love, of deep fidelity and trust, giving expression to the highest aspirations of the human heart and soul.

May all those gathered here who are already living in intimate and loving relationships find that your own relationship is renewed and strengthened by your witness here today. And may those who do not yet know the blessing of such a relationship find hope and inspiration, as together we offer prayers for Lindi and Connie, who are about to begin a united life together.

The Scripture will be read today by Denise Wayman, Connie’s sister, who is sharing from us from I Corinthians 13: 4

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails... as these three things remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. ”

Love’s nature is to express itself. On this day when Lindi and Connie give voice to their deep and abiding love and as they make promises to one another, let us remember that what they enter into today is a sacred covenant and not a legal contract.

A covenant is born of and grounded in profound respect and utmost mutuality. It requires that one continually see the other as the subject her affection and devotion. Within a covenant, each person holds herself accountable to the other, always holding sacred the bond that has been formed.

As Connie and Lindi offer their covenant promises to one another, let us remember that the covenant they create has its source in the covenant of love which God has initiated with each of them. It is this covenant which serves as a model and inspiration for the covenant they now make with one another.

I invite you now to join hands as you repeat your vows. Connie, you will speak first.

I take you, Lindi/Connie
to be the partner of my days,
the parent of my children,
the companion of my house.
I promise to love and care for you,
through times of joy and times of sorrow,
to rejoice when you are happy, and grieve when you suffer.
I promise to respect, support, and honor you,
to try to understand you even when I do not agree,
I vow to be faithful to you,
and place your love above all others.
In all this, I ask for God's help, now and in the days to come.

The ring is a symbol of unity into which your two lives are now joined in an unbroken circle, in which, wherever you go, you will return to one another. Rings are made precious by our wearing them. They become us. They reflect us. They are a symbol of our truest essence. The circle itself represents eternity - the lifetime we hope for this union. As you wear them through time, they will reflect not only who you are, but also the union you are making; the fact that through the rest of your lives each of you will be committed to the other, yet as yourself remain.

Please repeat after me. Lindi, you will speak first.

With this ring I commit to you, Connie/Lindi,
and now bind my life to yours.
It is a symbol of my eternal love and my everlasting friendship.
It is a promise of all my tomorrows.
May it remind you, no matter where you are,
that my love for you is unconditional.

At this time, Connie wishes to offer a ring to Sarah, in honor of their relationship as parent and daughter.

Holy God, who is known to us as love, look upon Lindi and Connie, who are now choosing to be life companions in your sight. May they find peace in their hearts in the certainty that you will love them, that you accompany them in their commitment. By the power of your spirit, enable them to be a sign of your presence in the world.

Connie and Lindi have promised to love each other, and have exchanged solemn vows and symbols of your love and commitment. Conscious of the meaning of this hour and overjoyed at its promises, may the spirit of trust, understanding, and love be with these two throughout all the years that lie ahead.

Whatever trials and testing that may come, may they trust each other completely. May they understand, honor and respect one another. As they build their home together, may it be bright with the laughter of many friends, may it be a haven from the tensions of our times, and a source of strength and security. May the years go gently with them.

Lindi and Connie, may you drink together, so that you will never thirst; may you feast together, so you shall never hunger. Walking together, may you find far more in life than you would have ever found alone.

May God, and each of us gathered here, bless this Union.

Lindi and Connie, You may express your love and union with a kiss.

May I be the first to introduce to you, Connie and Lindi, partners in Holy Union.