A Making of Vows: Same-Gender Union Rite

Gathering

Word

Response (a making of vows)

Naming the Occasion

Presider:
Sisters and brothers, the love of God surpasses all understanding. Yet being human beings, we need to see love embodied to know of its power to heal, to sustain hope, to forgive, to accompany through trials and tribulations. It is so easy to forget, to doubt, to lose our way. In a world of loneliness and conflict and pain, what else can be said when persons come together to make love, to make family, to make a commitment to accompany another through all that life may bring but Praise God!
    Praise the profligate lover who is as close to us as our very breath and so sustains our life.
    Praise the One whose love is stronger than death!
Praise God!
And so, today, we gather to see love embodied, to witness as our friends declare divinely outlandish promises of love, faithfulness and care for one another. Despite realism about all of their frailties, doubts and past betrayals, today, these two honor us by standing before us to embody love, to make vows, to show us a bit about what God’s love looks and feels like.
Praise God!

Declaring Consent

Presider: Name, do you come today, with a free spirit, a free conscience, and your whole self, to publicly proclaim your love for name, to join in the reinvention of what it means to be family in this nation and world, to enter a new phase of life where this loving relationship that has sustained you is now placed at the service of church and neighbor as evidence of God’s love for all?

Partner 1: I do.
       
Presider: Name, do you come today, with a free spirit, a free conscience, and your whole self, to publicly proclaim your love for name, to join in the reinvention of what it means to be family in this nation and world, to enter a new phase of life where this loving relationship that has sustained you is now placed at the service of church and neighbor as evidence of God’s love for all?

Partner 2: I do.

Gathering Support

Presider: As ministers to us in the work of being love in flesh, you will need help. I invite you now to solicit the support you need as you enter this life of loving for the sake of the world.

Partners: We ask our chosen family to stand.

You who have been for us, sisters and brothers in a land hostile to our love, we ask you now, here among these witnesses, to continue as confidants and counselors, to lend us still your helping hands and loving hearts as we begin a new phase of our lives together. Call us to account when we cause you or one another pain, betraying the covenant we make today. Celebrate with us our joy and do not leave us isolated in times of sorrow and loss. Will you go with us into the future as companions and friends?
Members of the chosen family: We will, with God's help.

Partners: We ask members of our biological families to stand.

Many are not so fortunate to have mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, etc., with them on days when they proclaim love that has been so often disdained. You have grown with us into new people with wider visions of what it means to be human, broader understandings of faithful ways to live. We thank you and praise God for the transformative work of grace and the sustaining of ties of blood through stress and strain and change. Will you go with us into the future as family not chosen but loving and happily tied to a future yet unseen and full of promise?

Members of the biological families: We will, with God's help.

Partners: We ask all present to stand.

We have gathered you this day to witness our promises, to celebrate our love and the gift of love itself. We give thanks for you and ask for your support in the hard work of loving. Will you share the wisdom of your lives with us, marking for us ways to walk that sustain life and listening to us in times of insight, doubt and pain?

All those gathered: We will, with God's help.

Making Vows

Presider: As ministers to us in the work of being love in flesh, I invite you now to make your vows to one another, divinely outlandish promises that will found anew your covenant, that are made in faith and are dependent upon the Spirit to sustain and bless as you embody love for us in your hospitality, mutual care and companionship through all life's trials and triumphs.

Partners (each in turn):

I have built a life with you. I commit myself to remain with you, to stand by you, to celebrate who you are and who you may yet become.
I will, with you, show hospitality to the many whom we love and welcome the stranger into our lives.
I will, with you, spread a bountiful table for those who grace our home, delight in times of plenty and sustain you in times of want.
I will, with God's help, fight fair, tell truth, and seek reconciliation when we find ourselves at odds.
I am yours and will worship you with my body, even as we worship the One who is source of all love and hope of all who long for age when justice reigns and every tear is wiped away.

[The partners may also revise this model vow or craft their own words to declare their love for one another.]

Blessing Prayer
[The Presider lays hands upon the couple or lifts hands above them in a sign of blessing; others in the gathered community may join in a similar gesture.]

Presider: Having made your promises before God and this gathered community, we in turn ask God's blessing upon your relationship:

Fiery Passion, whose desire for all you have created consumes distrust, betrayal and brokenness, burn fiercely this day and evermore in the love of these your daughters/sons, so that all who encounter them may know that you live and that your promises of hope, love, and justice for all endure.

Abundant Mercy, whose grace overwhelms all barriers of difference, inequality and prejudice, pour down this day and evermore on the lives of these your daughters/sons, so that all might know that reconciliation, forgiveness and transformation are possible.

Everlasting Strength, whose comforting embrace endures beyond all rejection, oppression and attack, hold this day and evermore these daughters/sons, so that all might know, even while the day of true equality seems far off, it is surely coming and the struggle for justice will issue in peace.

Undaunted Courage, whose tenacity outlasts all resistance, empower this day and evermore the witness of these your daughters/sons, so that all might know the many forms of human love, human family, human community are faithful and right.

We bless you, Giver of all Good gifts, and ask this day for your blessing upon these sisters/brothers so that they may fulfill their promises, live in harmony, and be a blessing to others.

In the name of Love, let all God's people say:                   Amen.
 
Declaration
Presider: Having made your promises before God and this gathered community and through the power vested in me, not by the state nor by the church, but only by the force of divine love that is the source and the sustenance of your own, I now declare you joined and blessed by God as signs of love in the midst of the world.

[It is appropriate for the partners to kiss and for the gathered community to respond with applause, or others gestures of celebration, and with acclamations, and, perhaps, in song.]

Exchanging Symbols

Presider: Having made your promises before God and this gathered community, you are now invited to exchange a ring (or other sign) of your relationship.
Partner 1: Wear this ring as a sign of my presence in your life, of my love for you, of my promises to you.
Partner 2: Wear this ring as a sign of my presence in your life, of my love for you, of my promises to you.

Commissioning

Presider: (to the gathered community) I commission all of you in the name of God to go forth in joy, to celebrate and enjoy the gift of love that has brought us together this day and to which we have been witnesses. Tell the despairing that love is alive and even now reaches out towards them. 

(to the partners) I commission you in the name of God to live as witnesses to the power of life and love. Be light to those who dwell in darkness. Be a source of warmth to those who remain in the cold. Fulfill your promises. Live in hope. Be of good courage.
   
Benediction

Presider: God is love and nothing can separate you from this love. So there is no longer any reason to be afraid. God goes before you to guide you on your way. God goes beside you to accompany you. God follows behind you to catch you if you stumble. Go in peace to love.

A Making of Vows:  Same Gender Union Rite was written by Scott Haldeman. © 2012 Scott Haldeman.  All publishing rights reserved.  Permission is granted for one time use of  individuals, faith communities or educational institutions for use in prayer or teaching.  Permission for further use must be sought directly from: Scott Haldeman, Assistant Professor of Worship - Chicago Theological Seminary - shaldeman@ctschicago.edu

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CONTACT INFO

Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland,Ohio 44115
216-736-3869
blains@ucc.org