We have a joyful and profound purpose here today and it is fitting to begin with a moment of reverence, aware of and grateful for the innumerable forces that have made this moment possible.
In this moment of promising
May each of us be present to love
And aware of the sacredness of this ceremony.
May we all be blessed as we witness their commitment,
But most of all, may these couples be blessed
as they entrust themselves again to love and to each other.
May they continue to be courageous in their loving.
May their love shine through moments of difficulty
as well as times of joy.
May their confidence in each other never waver.
As we celebrate with them today,
may our hearts be fully open to the power of love
may our minds be fully open to the courage of commitment
may our eyes, our ears and our whole bodies be open to the beauty of this sacred event so that it may transform us all.
May we meet this moment reverently
and fully faithful to the promise of love.
Amen, Ashé, and Blessed Be.
Reading from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Love Makes a Way
The women who stand here before you represent 83/98 years of love and commitment. They have already been together through good times and hard times, through sickness and health, through times of loss and times of joy. That anyone might doubt or demean the love that is present in this room is unfathomable to me, for when I look around this room, Love is all I see.
These couples that stand in front of us now are not fragile beginners in love, but are proof positive that Love will make a way when there seems to be no way. When their relationships began, marriage equality seemed an impossibility. Still, they made and marked their commitment through ceremonies, civil unions, and—hardest of all—the realities of life together, day by day, sorrow by sorrow and celebration by celebration. They have laughed and cried together, found their way through disagreement and disappointment, celebrated each other’s successes and held one another through long nights of worry and fear.
We are not here to legitimize their love, but to learn from it. To celebrate the example of these women, who despite all of the obstacles, found ways to Love and keep Loving, even though their relationships were neither recognized or valued by law. These women before you had both the courage and the strength to keep loving each other in a world where it was—and still can be—both difficult and dangerous. These four/five couples are examples of what Love can and should be and what commitment looks like.
Theresa and Mary are new to our congregation, but I have already loved watching them laugh together and pitch right in to help however they can. They have shown me their big hearts and their commitment to each other and to helping make the world a better place.
Gale and Deb have together for 26 years, in good times and in bad. Their love is deep and strong—strong enough to weather each time Gale brings home a new dog. They have been, for me, an example of caring—for each other, for this congregation, for those who are suffering in this world, and yes, even for baby squirrels.
Mary and Barb have built an amazing life together and I have witnessed the way they have helped each other through times of grief and great joy with love that I can only admire. They have given years of their time to the youth of this congregation and to help create a women’s group in this congregation. They share their love and their talents joyfully.
Jodi and Megan I’ve only recently met, but their love for each other is obvious. In just a short time, I’ve come to appreciate the way they encourage and care for one another and light up the room with laughter. Their commitment has sustained them through challenging times, and their love continues to make a way forward in their lives.
Today, as these amazing women marry, they are choosing to commit themselves anew to the Love which has already sustained them and which will never cease to challenge them to keep learning, keep risking, and keep caring for each other and for the world around them.
Love, as we all know, is not simply a warm fuzzy feeling. It is a powerful and mysterious force that lures human beings out of selfishness and into partnerships of mutuality and caring. Love, as we have heard many times before, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. It is this that these couples have been seeking and have found in each other. It is this powerful, mysterious, and compelling love that has brought them, and us with them, to this moment.
Each of these couples knows the value of love that must love. Their relationships are each based on deep and enduring friendship and that friendship is built on mutual and profound respect. They have learned to have faith in life and in each other. They have made a conscious decision to live lives that are caring, genuine, and whole.
Mary and Theresa, Deb and Gale, Barb and Mary, Megan and Jodi… (Barb and ______________) you have chosen Love over fear. You have chosen the risk of trust rather than the security of isolation. You have chosen to be faithful to one another, to your family and friends, and most importantly, to Love. We are here today to witness and honor the beauty of your commitment to one another and to offer our support and blessing of your marriage as you, once again, give yourself to Love.
Vows & Exchanging Rings
As you prepare to make the promises that will form this marriage between you, remember the respect, patience, and laughter that have sustained you thus far. As you speak your vows to one another, know that your love and commitment are holy and will bless not only you, but also a world that so needs more people who choose to live lives of love. Will the officiants come forward, to lead each couple in their vows?
It is my privilege to offer you the first of what I hope will be many blessings upon your marriage:
May your love for one another be a dance of two souls
joined together in love, respect, and deep friendship.
May the joy of this day sustain you,
May the promises made today
remain forever unbroken
as you share your lives from this day forward. Amen!
It is now my honor, in the presence of all who have gathered here to bear witness to your love and commitment and by the power vested in me by the state of Illinois to pronounce you legally married. You may celebrate your marriage with a kiss.