Sunday, June 3, 2007

Commitment and community

Yesterday I had the great honor of co-officiating at a commitment ceremony for dear friends in another city. While they are 'out' both individually and as a couple and were happy for us to take copies of the worship leaflets to share with others, I will keep these remarks to a minimum and not mention names. I do want to say that this was one of the most joyous, serious, beautifully crafted liturgies I have ever experienced. The couple wrote most of it themselves (they are both theologically educated women, from different traditions) and we (several co-officiants) facilitated and led different pieces of it. Some parts were quite traditional, others less so.

The assembled community, which made public promises of support along with the couple, was a mix of lesbian/gay and straight and from several religious and spiritual communities and racial and cultural backgrounds. The couple are an interracial and interreligious couple and are deeply conscious of their vocation to be agents of reconciliation and justice, and of the communal and personal histories they bring to their union. They love each other deeply and we love them.

They also, in pronouncing their vows, did something I now think all couples should do, which is to say what they wish for the other person, rather than "I," "I," "I." In other words, the vows were phrased in terms of blessing for the other and were other-directed. There was something both deeply Christian and deeply Buddhist about this attention to the welfare and well-being of the other, and it speaks also to the commitment of this couple to each other as individuals and as a family.

I am proud to have helped support, honor, and celebrate the love and friendship that these women have for one another and their vocations in the world, and to have done so with a community that has pledged publicly to befriend this couple and be an extended family to them for life.

I pray that we move toward a society and a world where love can flourish in safety and that communities of support, justice, and friendship will grow, strengthen, and multiply, beginning now.

13 comments:

lj said...

Jane,
Like most pastors I know, weddings are among my least favorite things to do. But occasionally one comes along that really sings. And one of my favorite weddings of all time was a same-sex one -- two young women who had met doing missionary work in Central America, one Catholic, one Presbyterian. They planned their liturgy so thoughtfully and so beautifully -- every Scripture, every song, every vow. The congregation was so with them. It wasn't just another excuse for a party.

I'm so glad you had this opportunity and your friends had you!

Grandmère Mimi said...

How lovely that you were a part of the celebration, Jane.

I have my fill of the grand $20,000+ wedding celebrations (coronations of the bride?). It's one day in the life of the couple, and what does the huge expenditure of money have to do with the relationship between the two making the committment?

A modest ceremony, full of meaning for the couple, in the midst of a loving community is the way to go, IMHO.

LJ, I can see how presiding at an extravaganza-type ceremony could create difficulties for a pastor.

pj said...

Stories like this one make me so happy. It's really a vision of where the human race could go if we just keep evolving. Evolving takes a lot of work, of course. ;)

L'chaim!

Jane R said...

I loved the "My Turn" or whatever it's called in Newsweek a few weeks ago, by the couple who spent a grand total of $150 (if my memory is correct) on their wedding. Did you see it? I wonder if I can dig up a link for you. It was a great reflection.

Jane R said...

Here it is! Check it out.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Jane, That was a wonderful story. Our wedding cost less than that, and it took place in a cathedral. I'll have to write the story one day.

PadreRob+ said...

Jane, thank you.

Ed said...

Beautiful. Wish I'd been there.

johnieb said...

Too many of the other sort lately, Ed?

Thanks for the link, Jane. It sounds as if your friends' wedding continues to be a blessing shared.

johnieb said...

I must ask; does anyone know what the blossom is, in photo one? Gorgeous!

Jane R said...

Vanda orchid apparently. Found it here and you can also see it here (same site, just flower close-up). The joys of Google searches for "purple flowers"... (Why I was looking for purple flowers is a little too long to explain but you saw how they worked with the post even for people who hadn't been at the ceremony.)

Jane R said...

lj, my friend here in LA who is a Zen Senior Dharma Teacher, no longer a full-time abbot (which was just a job, like a pastor, as opposed to the dharma teacher status which is permanent, like ordination) said weddings are his favorite aspect of the work. (And yes, he does required some kind of counseling before.) So maybe he doesn't get the married-in-church-for-superficial-reasons people? I'm not so sure weddings are pastors' least favorite thing, but I'm not in the full-time biz right now so I may be wrong. Are weddings your least favorite thing because people's last concern is the actual ceremony? Can you turn them down if they are not sincere and just want a church wedding for show?

Jane R said...

P.S. I just wrote that last one on June 7 while on the road.