The sanctity and institution of marriage is much discussed these days.
We regularly face questions about the nature of this union from the general population and from members of the church wrestling with the current trends in western civilization.
It can be wearing, pastorally caring for all without redefining this holy estate.
It can be daring, loving a fallen humanity aware that we stand by God’s grace alone.
Below you will find a brief ceremony for the renewing of wedding vows which I pray will be a blessing to you and to couples among whom you minister. I invite you to celebrate the gift of marriage as designed by its Creator, a reflection of the mysterious relationship between Christ and his church in which husband and wife are united as one.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2: 24)
Renewal of Wedding Vows
“(_______) years ago, you, (names of husband and wife), made vows before God and promises to one another that you would live as husband and wife from that day forward, to love and to cherish one another for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health; that you would live in the purity of marital faithfulness, forsaking all others and becoming an exclusive union until the time comes when one of you is called home to meet, face to face, the author of this holy institution between a man and a woman, a loving God who led you to that place of trust and who continues to lead you still.
You committed yourselves to comfort and pray for one another, support and encourage one another, and to share together in the raising of children who may be given to you as blessings of God and signs of your love. In the context of a Christian home which is intended to represent Christ’s loving presence in the church, you resolved to pray for them as well, to teach and train them in humble recognition of your own need for grace to live in love, to give them every opportunity to come to know this Creator God in whom we live and move and have our being so that they too may come in time to serve him with their whole hearts, minds, bodies and souls in the beauty of his holiness by virtue of the redeeming work of Jesus Christ whose love never fails; so they too may come in time to build their homes in him.
In making your wedding vows before God when you began this journey, it was your expressed desire to glorify him in and through your marriage. You prayerfully set the tone of your new life together as those who would live in gratitude for his kind goodness and perfect wisdom which addresses every need and gives hope in a fallen world; which creates well-being in individuals and in society as a whole wherever we learn to enjoy peace and security in relationships ordered according to God’s life-giving righteousness and generous grace. Herein we are granted the freedom and power by his Holy Spirit to promote the best interests of each one, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually; to become our true selves in Christ who is at work in us to will and fulfill God’s purposes in us; to be gifts of reconciliation and blessing in our marriages, homes, communities and ultimately, our world.
Christ’s love is a suffering love, ready to forgive and to bear the cost of that forgiveness.
His love is a self-sacrificing love which denies itself in preference of serving the beloved.
His is a divine ‘agape’ love whose essence is seen most clearly in our precious Lord who laid down his life for his friends.
Vows of Renewal
Now, with the passing of years and life experiences having made you more aware of what that covenant would require of you, do you freely express your continuing commitment to move into the future with joy and thanksgiving for the gift of ________________ as your wife / husband, to celebrate and cherish the richness of her / his unique personality, talents and interests as she / he grows and changes, to remain steadfast in the vows you made in the past, to see each day as an opportunity to deepen and refresh your love and respect for one another, and to prayerfully lean on God, trusting him to sustain you, regardless of what tomorrow may bring?”
May the Lord bless each one who responds to his continuing call to a self-denying and holy love between husband and wife within the home and to uphold its sanctity within the church and the world.