Archive for July, 2009

Lessons from the Seasons-March 1st-Rabbit Day!

July 24, 2009 - 8:00 pm 33 Comments

Pastoral Reflection: How Nature Reveals Problem-Solving
When I was a child, back in cold damp, New England, there was an expression the Old Yankees would use concerning this day on the calendar, and it went something like this: ” March… comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb…”
March would be, under normal conditions, the last month of winter weather. If all went well, from the Groundhog’s prediction to The Farmer’s Almanac (I guess they didn’t know about El Nino… Or global warming in those days) they could count on Spring starting sometime in March… . As it was explained to me, the weather can progress from being fierce to being more gentle, and that this pattern of Nature was capable of happening in a short period of time… one month.
It was a common sight for me, to see snow still piled up at the beginning of March, and it was truly a wondrous and hopeful sight to see, once we past the Ides, that, in a few bare spots, those brave and courageous little crocuses were trying to push their way through the thawed ground announcing the coming of the long awaited Spring.
This weather phenomenon points to lessons in our apprehension and anticipation- to how we can begin to dread the beginning of a project, a responsibility, or a change in one’s life, and then with greater openness to possibilities, a d a shift in our perceptions, be able to warm up to it and reach its completion with a sense of peace and joy. Like the first of March, our problems and challenges can appear fierce and lion-sized. We can imagine ourselves bracing for the worst, instead of expecting the best from ourselves, our society, our situations in life- we dread, we worry, we are fearful, instead of looking optimistically at our potentials…
Like the stormy chill of the late winter, we can effectively act like wet snow blankets or at least pour down freezing rain on our best efforts. Hope is what renews us. Only as we allow ourselves to emphasize our possibilities and potentials does Spring truly arrive; When Spring is in the air, our willingness to hold fast to our purposes, helps us to endure until the greening of the year, until the color and warmth returns to our lives, and optimism and courage takes its rightful place in our hearts.
From a certain metaphorical perspective, weather is the energetic result of our collective thoughts… and those thoughts, if not directly affecting our world, truly can control the emotional climate of our lives. Based on that outlook, I will confidently predict that it is our reactions and our ability to expect what is good, and rehearse those ideals, versus dreading what might never be, and rehearsing those desperate empty scenes, that could control the warmth we feel and share among us.
Similarly, it could be the “whether or not” patterns in our own thinking that will set the range of temperature in our caring, in our openness that we have toward love and life. If life is currently like March 1st, an old bellowing lion, not happy with his portion and dissastified with his lack of attention, take heart… become encouraged… for the peace, warmth, affirmation you seek is not far away. Spring is almost here!
As lion and lamb, may the days of our lives not be spent in worrying whether or not you will receive a fleecing by life, or that you might be devoured by any of life’s challenges and changes. Instead, we can follow nature’s rhythms and give ourselves the gift of time, of patience, acceptance, and a little endurance, and within a few Sundays, your problems can melt, and you, too can bravely bloom with greater optimism and hope for the year… Happy March 1st!

Oh yes, least I forget! Today is also Rabbit Day!
According to the ancient Celts, the March Hare is the great familiar or animal companion of the Ostera, or the Goddess of Easter.
Additionally, either by superstition or by metaphor, rabbits have always been signs of good luck, fortune, quick recoveries, new beginnings, fresh starts, and hope.
My favorite witch, and former professor at Penn State, told me about the setting of positive intentions associated by thinking about rabbits on the first of every month, in fact, as the first thing that comes to mind when you wake up on the 1st of every month.
She advises and affirms, according to Wiccans and Celts, that if you say, “Rabbit, Rabbit” as your first words, you will set the intention for having a very positive, hopeful, and energetic month!
If you miss, it can be instructive as what is the first thing you think about as your feet hit the floor…
And it is said that if you forget, the second day will work, so in order to avoid having “a bad hare day” (ouch!), it is recommended that you think carefully about how you fill your minds and hearts at the beginning of any day, week, month or year…

Deep Listening

July 24, 2009 - 7:51 pm 20 Comments

What I Would Say to Osama bin Laden
Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh talks about how listening is the first step towards peace.
Interview by Anne A. Simpkinson

Conclusion
Is it realistic to think people can feel true compassion now?

Without understanding, compassion is impossible. When you understand the suffering of others, you do not have to force yourself to feel compassion, the door of your heart will just naturally open. All of the hijackers were so young and yet they sacrificed their lives for what?
Why did they do that? What kind of deep suffering is there? It will require deep listening and deep looking to understand that. To have compassion in this situation is to perform a great act of forgiveness. We can first embrace the suffering, both outside of America and within America. We need to look after the victims here within our country and also to have compassion for the hijackers and their families because they are also victims of ignorance and hatred. In this way we can truly practice non-discrimination. We do not need to wait many years or decades to
realize reconciliation and forgiveness. We need a wake up call now in order not to allow hatred to overwhelm our hearts.

Do you believe things happen for a reason?
If so, what was the reason for the attacks on the U.S.A.?

The deep reason for our current situation is our patterns of consumption. U.S.A. citizens consume 60% of the world’s energy resources yet they account for only 6% of the total world’s population. Children in America have witnessed 100,000 acts of violence on television by the time
they finish elementary school. Another reason for our current situation is our foreign policy and the lack of deep listening within our relationships. We do not use deep listening to understand the suffering and the real needs of people in other nations.

What do you think would be the most effective spiritual response to this tragedy?

We can begin right now to practice calming our anger, looking deeply at the roots of the hatred and violence in our society and in our world, and listening with compassion in order to hear and understand what we have not yet had the capacity to hear and to understand. When the drop of compassion begins to form in our hearts and minds, we begin to develop concrete responses to our situation. When we have listened and looked deeply, we may begin to develop the energy of brotherhood and sisterhood between all nations, which is the deepest spiritual heritage of all religious and cultural traditions. In this way the peace and understanding within the whole world is increased day by day. To develop the drop of compassion in our own heart is the only effective spiritual response to hatred and violence. That drop of compassion will be the result of calming our anger, looking deeply at the roots of our violence, deep listening, and understanding the suffering of everyone involved in the acts of hatred and violence.

Nature Settings for Weddings

July 24, 2009 - 12:59 pm 38 Comments

Wedding Ceremony for
Amber Murff & Tim Strunck
Spirit of the Low Country Charleston, South Carolina
September 20, 2008, 7:00 p.m.

Prelude/Gathering – Band – Song TBD
Seating of the Mothers – Band – Song TBD
Processional – Band – Song TBD

Opening Words & the Ceremony: The Rev. Peter E. Lanzillotta, Ph.D.
Good evening and welcome to all family and friends of Amber and Tim. We meet just before sunset in the light and warmth of this harbor to witness a special event; a time when two souls will be joined as one in the presence of God and in the company of family and friends.

Who gives this woman to be married to this man?
A: (Amber’s Father) Her mother and I do.
Father kisses Amber’s cheek and takes seat.

Welcome & Words of the Ceremony: The Rev. Peter E. Lanzillotta
Amber and Tim would like to thank you all for being here this evening. The history you bring together for them, as friends and members of their families, defines much of who they are as individuals, and what they can become as a couple. You have helped them arrive here today as a happy, healthy, and loving couple, willing and ready to share their lives together.

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This is an exciting year for Amber and Tim! Amber’s parents, Clark and Sue, celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary in June. Tim’s parents, Arthur and Lisa, also celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary in February. Amber and Tim would like to thank their parents for providing them with the affection, encouragement, support, and understanding that molded them into the couple they have become. >From you, they learned how to love, and for this they are forever grateful.
Amber and Tim, it was four years ago this weekend, that you went on your first date. The years following that first dinner have been full of excitement and surprise as you discovered the role you will play in each others’ lives. Now you are here as a public affirmation before God, family, and friends, of the love already present and guiding in your relationship. This affirmation is neither an end, nor a beginning, but rather a momentary pause to celebrate what has already occurred.

The “Spirit of the Low Country” is more than just a convenient venue for your wedding and reception. She is a symbol of your love for adventure, travel, and search for knowledge; a symbol of your passage through a portal that will lead you to many places, including ones you can’t possible imagine. Wherever it takes you, there will be surprises, for this is the mark of a truly loving relationship: that it will take you where you had not meant to go.

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Christian Reading: Epistle from the Colossians
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Amen.

Readings – On Your Wedding Day – Read by Amanda Ewing

Today is a day you will always remember
The greatest in anyone’s life
You’ll start off the day just two people in love
And end it as Husband and Wife.
It’s a brand new beginning, the start of a journey
With moments to cherish and treasure
And although there’ll be times when you both disagree
These will surely be outweighed by pleasure.

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You’ll have heard many words of advice in the past
When the secrets of marriage were spoken
But you know that the answers lie hidden inside
Where the bond of true love lies unbroken.
So live happy forever as lovers and friends
It’s the dawn of a new life for you
As you stand there together with love in you eyes
From the moment you whisper ‘I do’.
And with luck, all you hopes and you dreams can be real.
May success find its way to your hearts
Tomorrow can bring you the greatest of joys
But today is the day it all starts.

Statement of Intention –( please turn, face one another, and hold hands…)

Tim and Amber, will you take on another as husband and wife? Will you love and respect one another? Will you trust one another always? Will you stand by one another and face whatever may come with strength, patience, and love? A: We will.

Marriage Vows –
Since it is your intention to enter into marriage, join your right hands, and declare your consent before God, family, and friends.
Amber passes bouquet to Maid of Honor.
Tim and Amber face each other and join hands.

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Now please repeat after me:
(With Tim repeating)
I, Tim, take you, Amber, to be my wife. | I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, | in sickness and in health. | I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

(With Amber repeating)
I, Amber, take you, Tim, to be my husband. | I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, | in sickness and in health. | I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

Exchange of Rings –
What do you offer as your pledge of love and loyalty? These rings.

Lord, bless and consecrate Tim and Amber in their love for each other. May these rings be a symbol of true faith in each other, and always remind them of their love.

Tim takes ring from Best Man.
Repeat after me, “With this ring, I join my life with yours”.
Tim places ring on Amber’s finger (while repeating).

Amber takes ring from Maid of Honor.
Repeat after me, “With this ring, I join my life with yours”.
Amber places ring on Tim’s finger (while repeating).

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Blessing of the Hands –
Amber, please face Tim, and hold his hands, palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from you eyes: tears of sorrow and tears of joy. These are the hands that will comfort you in illness, and hold you when fear or grief fill you. These are the hands that will give you support and celebrate with you in your accomplishments.

Tim, please hold Amber’s hands, palms up, where you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through the difficult times. They are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick or console you when you are grieving. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness. These are the hands that will give you support as she encourages you to fulfill you dreams. Together, as a team, everything you wish for can be realized.

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Final Blessing – Traditional Irish Blessing – Read by Allison Sharpe

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

May God be with you and bless you;
May you see your children’s children.
May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings,
May you know nothing but happiness

From this day forward.

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home
And may the hand of a friend always be near.

May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.

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Pronouncement –

Having pledged your faith and love to each other, and having sealed your solemn marital vows by giving and receiving the rings, acting in the authority vested in me by the State of South Carolina, and looking to heaven for divine affirmation, I pronounce you husband and wife.

Tim you may kiss your bride! Tim kisses Amber.

I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. Tim Strunck!

Recessional –

Band – Song TBD

The Wedding Ceremony of Amy Elizabeth Hollander and Travis Davis White
September 8, 2007
Aboard the Schooner Pride at Charleston Harbor

INTRODUCTION
Welcome everyone! Today we come together to witness the most special and sacred union between two people. In marriage, two persons turn to each other in search of a greater fulfillment than either can achieve without the other. Love is a living thing. It exists in all of us, waiting for an awakening recognition. Amy and Travis have chosen to be married here today, in the Earths natural light with the Earths rhythmic natural surroundings. They have chosen to give themselves to one another in the presence of family, mother nature, and God. …

Scriptural Reading
Before we continue with the vows, I would like to take a moment to read a passage that Amy and Travis chose as an expression of what love means to them. St. Paul said it best when he describes the qualities of love, and the gifts of love in these words:
” Love is patient. Love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, not conceited, nor rude; never selfish, nor quick to take offense. Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over other ones sins, but only delights in the truth. There is nothing that love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope or its endurance… a few words there are three things that will last forever: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these things is love.”

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Homily: The Qualities of Relationship:
There are three qualities of relationship that serve a marriage well; they will ensure attentiveness, respect, and increase the caring of each partner, so that this new marriage will stay resilient, dynamic, and strong.
The first equality we recommend is listening… To listen to one another because how your partner feels and thinks is very important. Listen with your ears and your heart to what she or he has to say… Listen carefully and attentively before speaking… Do not simply try to defend your actions or your point of view without knowing first how your partner thinks and feels. Do not debate or defend, or discourage listening to one another.
The second quality is speaking- telling your truth to your partner allows you to be heard as an individual, and allows the person to know what is in your heart and what is on your mind. Speak respectfully to one another- never in harsh or defensive terms, and certainly speak in ways that are truthful, sincere, and kind.
The third quality that will protect and preserve your relationship is the willingness to share equally the joys and responsibilities of marriage. It is a soulful and practical partnership. Sometimes we divide the chores and responsibilities based on personal strengths, and sometimes it falls to whomever has the time to do them… Regardless, it is important to maintain an equality, a mutual importance to the tasks, and to affirm the value of each other’s contribution to the household and to married life. To share fully and openly all the aspects of life is another way a marriage can be defined. In sharing- which means giving and receiving- the essence of a loving, equal partnership for life can be realized.

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WEDDING VOWS (please turn, face each other, and hold hands)
Amy do you promise to stand by Travis as a honest and faithful wife to face your journey together down life’ path with strength, patience and faith in God? (Yes, I promise)

Travis do you promise to stand by Amy as a honest and faithful husband to face your journey together down life’s path with strength, patience & faith in God? (Yes, I promise)

THE RING PRAYER
A circle is the symbol of the Sun, and the Earth, and the Universe, of wholeness and of perfection and peace. May these rings be forever the symbol of your unbroken circle of love. Love freely given has no beginning and no end. Love that is freely given has no giver and no receiver. May these rings remind you always of the vows you have taken today.

RING VOWS/EXCHANGE (bride and groom pick up their rings)

TRAVIS-” With this ring, I thee wed, and pledge my eternal love to you.”

AMY-” With this ring, I thee wed, and pledge my eternal love to you.”

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CLOSING PRAYER AND REFLECTION:
Out of this tangled world, O God, two souls have found each other, and now will live together according to the design of their hearts. Holy One, on whose loom we live and weave together our world, help them to fashion a marriage of sincerity and joy. Make them strong and tensile for life’s obstacles; make them flexible and strong in their gifts and talents; make them supple and tender to one another’s feelings… Together, may this new couple come to realize the unifying pattern of their lives… Make that design provide a shelter for one another, and may they weave together a home that will be welcoming, warm, and wholesome. AMEN

Travis and Amy also would like us to remember this day, a special man who remains close to their hearts… As a last and loving, memorable thought, they feel that Dennis Richard White would be a proud man today. Travis and Amy realize that although he is not here in body, he is absolutely here in spirit. And that he is sailing and he is celebrating along with the rest us. Dennis is smiling as much as the sun shines today for his third son’ wedding.

PRONOUNCEMENT
Amy and Travis have chosen to walk the road of life together. Hand in hand, together. In that grasp, they know that they are solid, and that they can be lifted in spirit and in love by each other. May their marriage be blessed with long and happy days. Now, by the power invested in me; witnessed by friends, family and in the sight of God; I am happy to call you husband and wife!
You may kiss the bride! Congratulations… Now sail off in celebration, in happiness, and go in peace!

Wedding Service for
Amy Kracker and Christopher Selzer
Middleton Place
June 16th, 2007 6:00 PM

Prelude: Outlaw Josie Wales, Amazing Grace, I Will, Love Song

Processional: Syncopated Wedding March

Greetings/Opening Words: Rev. Peter Lanzillotta

Welcome everyone. We are gathered here to celebrate the marriage of Amy and Chris. The couple would like to thank you all for coming to share this celebration with them. The history of love and support you bring together for Amy and Chris defines much of who they are as individuals and what they can become as a couple. Through your friendships, they have known the laughter, trust, and respect that will provide the foundation for their marriage.

Words to the Couple:
Amy and Chris, this ceremony alone will not unite you in marriage. Only you can do that through a mutual desire to love one another and by creating an atmosphere of consideration and respect. To love is to hold one another’s best interests at heart. When two people truly love one another, each wishes that the other is able to become everything that he or she desires to be or achieve.
Through marriage, two people turn to each other in search of a greater fulfillment than either can achieve alone. Marriage is risking what you are for what you can become with the support and inspiration of another. Marriage is sharing your lives at every level, so that your lives become one life together. In the strength of this togetherness, comes the freedom to maintain your individuality.
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Only by being true to yourselves, and expressing your individuality, can you give freely and completely to the one you love. The strength of marriage lies in the ability to love one another, while continuing to grow as individuals.
The excitement of the future lies in the mystery it holds, and its beauty is having someone with whom to explore it. Throughout your journey, remember to always share the love, friendship, and laughter that have brought you here together tonight.

Poem: Now Amy’s sister Tracy would like to read a poem she has written for Amy and Chris.
Tracy’s Poem: “The Charles Bridge”

Standing together, hand in hand, You pledge to share life’s journey.
Those years ahead will be filled With laughter and tears,
Courage and fears.

A very wise person once said That your partner through these times
Must first be your best friend. Only through this bond Will you know true love.

Friendship brought you together And it will continue forever.
You found the person who understands Your hopes and dreams
And even your jokes.

Together, you will go many places, Finding unexpected adventures,
Sharing excitement and wonder. Travel the world And expand your hearts.

Through your friendship and adventures, You will each grow as your own person,
And build your strength as a couple, Supporting your love And happiness.

You are both strong individuals but, In each other, you have found something
That you would not be on your own, A person made better By the other.

You will challenge each other to grow But still face challenges together.
You will find happiness where you make it. Remember through it all
That love will triumph.
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Song: Angel
Vows: (Please turn and face one another and hold hands…)

Amy: Chris, I love you. You are my best friend.
Tonight, I choose you to be my husband. I promise to encourage and inspire you, to laugh with you, and to comfort you in times of sorrow and struggle.

I promise to love you in good times and in bad, when life seems easy and when it seems hard, when our love is simple, and when it is an effort.

I promise to cherish you, and to always hold you in highest regard
These things I give to you today, and for the rest of our lives.

Chris: Amy, I love you. You are my best friend.
Tonight, I choose you to be my wife. I promise to encourage and inspire you, to laugh with you, and to comfort you in times of sorrow and struggle.

I promise to love you in good times and in bad, when life seems easy and when it seems hard, when our love is simple, and when it is an effort.

I promise to cherish you, and to always hold you in highest regard
These things I give to you today, and for the rest of our lives.

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Exchange of Rings: (Minister asks for the rings…)
These rings are an outward symbol of the inner bond you share. May they forever remind you of your love, friendship, and faith in one another.

Amy: With this ring I thee wed and pledge my eternal love.

Chris: With this ring I thee wed and pledge my eternal love.
Pronouncement and Blessing:
As we breathe in this moment of happiness, and the wonder of nature that attends it, may we hope that Amy and Chris’s marriage will bring them lasting peace, harmony, and true heartfelt contentment.
May they be a blessing and a comfort to each other. May they encourage each other in whatever they set out to achieve.
In recognition of your vows, with the blessings of your family and friends who are present, and by the power vested in me, I gladly pronounce, that you are husband and wife.

Congratulations, you may kiss, and go forth in love.

I am pleased to present Chris and Amy Selzer.

Recessional: Train in the Rain

Wedding Ceremony for
Anita Bersie and Alec Chabalowski
Noerenburg Memorial Gardens
May 28, 2006, 4:00 PM,
Orono, Minnesota
The Reverend Peter E. Lanzillotta, Ph.D.

Prelude: Selections by Wind & String
Processional: “Morning Has Broken” (acoustic guitar & flute)
Greeting: Welcome everyone… Today, we come together to witness a precious union between two people. Remember that it is through such a union we can discover the very essence of the human capacity to love, honor and respect another human being.
Q: Who gives this woman to be wed? “Her Mother and I do.”
Opening Words and the Ceremony: The Rev. Peter E. Lanzillotta, Ph.D.
Alec and Anita thank you all for coming here today to share this celebration with them. The history you bring together for this couple, as their friends and as members of their families, defined much of who they are as individuals, and what they can become as a couple. Each of you has unselfishly given of yourselves. You have helped them to arrive here today as a happy, healthy, and loving people, willing and ready to share their lives together.
With and through these intimate associations of the past, they have been given a solid foundation for lasting marriage. The love and friendship which has surrounded them has led them to this turning point – the ceremony of marriage, from which they will begin to create their united future.

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Thanks to Parents:
At this time Alec and Anita would like to pay special thanks to their parents,
Bob, Lois, Bob and Jane. They would also like to acknowledge their grandparents here with us today, and to remember with affection those family members that have passed on. Throughout your lives, you have given them affection and encouragement to arrive here today in peace. You have provided them with your caring, support, everlasting guidance, constant strength, and openhearted understanding. From you, they have learned of love, and for this they are forever grateful.
Song: “In My Life” The Beatles (acoustic guitar & flute)
Reading: By Jordan Chabalowski, selection TBD (Ideas highlighted in book)
Words To The Couple: A Wedding Homily
Alec and Anita, many paths have led you to this destination, this place where you know you belong. Your journey has brought you here, to the beginning of the rest of your life. As your life together has grown and ripened, you have found that you can share many similar activities and interests- from your love of sailing to your passion for cooking. These connections, these shared common bonds will reinforce your happiness and work to ensure heartfelt communications whether you are in the kitchen or out at sea! You have lived together and you have lived apart… With career transitions and challenges that were sometimes daunting, you overcame the distance and maintained the togetherness. With patience and perseverance, your resilient caring has created deep, strong bonds between you both- bonds of caring and compassion that will continue to serve you well throughout all your years of marriage. You see, your dreams are something you have never compromised, and this has never been more true than right here, right now in deciding to be husband and wife.
In marriage, two persons turn to each other in search of a greater fulfillment than either can achieve alone. Marriage is a going-forth, a bold step into the future. It is risking what we are, for what we shall become. Matrimony symbolizes the ultimate intimacy between a man and a woman; yet the closeness should not diminish but reinforce the individuality of each partner.
Above all, let the desire to love and uphold peace rule in your hearts…
Alec and Anita, one of the greatest blessings you can give to one another is the willingness to support each other’s spiritual growth; growth in values, character, and in service to one another and to our world. As a vital part of this ongoing commitment is the willingness to forgive, and to accept that each of you is an unfinished, growing person, whose love grows as their ego and fears diminish.
The excitement of the future lies in the mystery it holds, and its beauty is having someone to explore it together and to share it openly. Some day, in the not too distant future, your love and commitment will widen and deepen and be shared with your children.
Remember, when we love another person, we look into their eyes, and we do not see only the love for another, but we also can look at all our hopes and dreams for tomorrow, and you may find something to treasure in every moment you are together…
Statement of Intention: Alec and Anita, please turn, face one another and hold hands…
(bride passes her flowers…)
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I, Anita, take you, Alec, as my husband and lifelong partner. I pledge myself to you,
To always treat you with love, honor, and respect. I promise you my absolute honesty, trust, and my complete devotion. I will cherish and care for you all the days of our lives,
Till death do us part.

I, Alec, take you, Anita, as my wife and lifelong partner. I pledge myself to you,
To always treat you with love, honor, and respect. I promise you my absolute honesty, trust, and my complete devotion. I will cherish and care for you all the days of our lives,
Till death do us part.

Exchange of Rings:
Q: What do you offer as a symbol of your love?
“THESE RINGS”
A circle is the symbol for the Sun, Earth and the universe. It is the image of wholeness, perfection and peace. May these rings be forever a symbol of your unbroken love. Love freely given has no giver and no receiver, for each is the giver and each is the receiver. May these rings remind you always of the vows you have taken here today.

Anita, please repeat after me: “With this ring, I thee wed, and pledge my faithful love.”

Alec, please repeat after me: “With this ring, I thee wed, and pledge my faithful love.”
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Blessing and Pronouncement:
May these two people, now married, keep this covenant that they have made. May they be a blessing and comfort to each other, sharers of each other’s joys, consolers in each other’s sorrows, helpers to each other in all the vicissitudes of life. May they encourage each other in whatever they set out to achieve. May they, trusting in each other, trust life, and not be afraid. Yet may they not only accept and give affection between themselves but together have affection and consideration for others.

In glad recognition of your desire to unite your hearts in mutual love and affection, I most happily pronounce you are now, husband and wife.

Congratulations! You may kiss the bride!

Recessional: Somewhere Over the Rainbow (acoustic guitar and flute)

(Announcements about receiving line at Park and reception to follow at the Radisson Hotel in Plymouth…)

The Wedding Ceremony
for
Joan C. Roberts and David M. Greene
Scottsdale Golf and Country Club
November 14, 1998 at 4:30 PM

Opening Words of Welcome and The Ceremony:
The Reverend Peter Edward Lanzillotta, Ph.D.

Lighting Of The Heritage Candles/ Flower Presentation

Words To The Couple:

Welcome… Today we have come together to be with Joan and David as they begin their married lives. It is through Joan and David that we can renew our faith in the human capacity to love, honor, and respect another human being- this covenant is the essence of the bonds of matrimony.

Joan and David would first like to thank their family and friends for traveling so far to share in this happy occasion. Also, they would like to offer a special thanks to the bride’s parents for being so supportive, patient, and helpful in making this day so memorable.
The union between a husband and a wife is a unity of heart, mind and body intended by God for their mutual inspiration and joy. It is togetherness that gives support and comfort to one another and can hold them close through both prosperity and adversity- throughout all the situations and circumstances of human life.
Therefore, marriage is not intended to be entered into lightly, or without sufficient insight and wisdom… It is intended to be established and upheld consciously and deliberately. Such a promise and such a goal depends on our reverence and respect: our reverence for God and our respect for one another.

Lighting of the Heritage Candles (Bride’s Mother and Groom’s Father)

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Words To The Couple:
Joan and David, I believe that it was no accident that your two souls have been drawn together for this lifelong sacred journey– that heartfelt pathway which is a living opportunity that marriage can become. Marriage has within it, a special grace that can only be found in being with a loved one. This involves living each day thereafter as the joint extension of your minds, the ripening of your souls, and the deepening of your heart’s affections. Joan and David, marriage is the companionship based on an abiding trust, and it grows from your understanding of spirituality. May this companionship always serve to uplift and bless you.

The excitement of your future lives is nurtured by the mystery it holds; and its beauty is fed by having someone to explore with and discover it answers. When you look into each other’s eyes , you not only see the love you have for one another, but you can also see all your hopes and dreams of tomorrow and may find something you can treasure in every moment you are together.

Selected Readings from the Holy Bible:
A Reading for the Epistle to the Corinthians 1:13
Though I speak with the tongues of men and the angels, if I am without love, then I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. I might have the gift of prophecy and know every hidden truth; I may have the faith strong enough to move mountains; but if I do not have love, I am nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited nor rude; never selfish, nor quick to take offense.
There is nothing that love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance. Love will never come to an end.

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A Reading from the Gospel according to St. John… 14: 33-35

After Jesus informed his apostles that he would be with them only a short while longer, he said,
” You, I know will look for me, and for my appearing among you, yet where I am going, you cannot come. So, [ to keep me alive among you] I will give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
This the Word of the Lord…. Thanks Be to Christ… AMEN

Statement of Intention and the Wedding Vows:
Please turn and face one another and hold hands….
Q: Do you both take this step into holy matrimony of your own free will?
A: “We Do.”
DAVID: Will you have this woman to be your wedded wife, to share your life with her, and do you offer to love, honor, and care for her, throughout your journey of your lives tougher? ” I WILL”
JOAN: Will you have this man as your wedded husband, to share your life with him, and do you offer to love, honor and care for him throughout the journey of your lives together? ” I WILL”
” I, Joan Catherine, pledge to you, David Michael, the rest of my life as your wife, your lover and your friend. To laugh with you in joy, to grieve with you in sorrow; to grow with you in love. I offer you my love and myself.
” I, David Michael, pledge to you, Joan Catherine, the rest of my life as your husband, your lover and your friend. To laugh with you in joy, to grieve with you in sorrow; to grow with you in love. I offer you my love and myself.

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The Exchange and Blessing of the Rings:
( Bride and Groom exchange rings… and say… ” With this ring, I thee wed…”
Priest blesses rings, hands and hearts….

The Lighting Of The Unity Candle:
Earlier in the service, the parents of Joan and David lit candles that signify the tradition, heritage, and generations of the family that are being united at this wedding ceremony. Each marriage represents a blending and a unifying of families, and the light of these two candles represents the gifts and graces that these two families can now give and share with each other, and offer to the new generation to come. Now Joan and David will light the candle of unity in marriage. This act symbolizes the spirit and the future of a new family that they begin here tonight.
As a unity candle, it represents the strength that each has received from their own families and the promise of light and love and compassion and caring they now bring and share with one another.

The Pronouncement and the Benediction:
As we stand here at the dusk of this beautiful day, we embrace the dawn of a new day in the lives of Joan and David. Joan and David, may the love of God, your family and your friends be with you always.
Joan and David, , by the power vested in me by the grace of the Lord, and the State of Arizona, I hereby gladly pronounce you to be husband and wife.

Congratulations, You may kiss the bride! Go in Peace…..

The Wedding Service
For
Aryn Tristine Browne and Joseph Hathaway Morse
July 10, 2004
42 Sleepy Hollow Road
Essex, Vermont

Prelude
Processional

Opening words and the ceremony: The Rev. Peter E. Lanzillotta, Ph.D.

What greater joy is there for two human souls, than to feel they are joined together to strengthen one another in all their labors? Joined, but not constrained or confined; willing to minister to one another in all sorrow, sharing in all gladness, and desiring to be with one another, in the creation of countless, unspoken, intimate memories.

On this day of your marriage, you stand apart from all other human beings. You stand within the charmed circle of your love, and this is as it should be. But love is not meant to be a possession of two people alone. Rather, it should serve as a source of common energy, in which you find strength to live your lives with courage. From this day onward, you must come closer together than ever before. You must love one another in sickness and in health, for better or for worse. But at the same time, your love should give you strength to continue your unique destinies, to make your special contribution to the world.
This celebration is but an outward sign of an inward union of heart, mind and spirit. This is a celebration of the joining of two souls already attuned to each other. When such a true bond already exists between a man and a woman, it is fitting that an outer acknowledgment be made. We are here to bear witness to the entry into the closer relationship of husband and wife of these beloved friends who are already one in spirit.
Music?
Words To The Couple:
It is our hope that your marriage will give you the strength and commitment to face all of life’s adversities. But equally important, let us hope that it will enhance your sensitivity to all that is wondrous and beautiful. Your home should be a place to share the joys of life. Your home should also be a place where the pain and tragedies of life can be overcome. We hope that you will find a deep sense of security; security which comes as each of you learns to understand, to accept, and to forgive the other person, and any differences and distances you might have between them, and then, as each of you learns to understand, to accept, and to forgive yourself, a true marriage can exist.
The German metaphysical poet, Rainer Marie Rilke has offered us many words in support of loving relationships. He has said that love is two solitudes protecting each other, and that we are to live in the questions of our lives with courage and with patience. He also stated this about the truth of relationships:
“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest
human beings, infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful side
by side can grow up,
If they succeed in loving the distance between them,
which then makes possible for each to see the other
as whole against the sky.”

As the Western Scriptures remind us, love is the most perfect gift; it is the sustaining grace and the strength behind all deep and meaningful relationships. We remember these words that describe love:
“Love is patient. Love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude, never selfish, nor quick to take offense. Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over others’ sins, but only delights in truth. There is nothing that love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, or its endurance. In a word, there are three things that will last forever: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these things is love.” I Cor. 13
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Ben – Reading*

(We’re not 100% sure about the wording of the first sentence that follows, but we might just keep it as is:)

You are now taking into your care and keeping the happiness of the one person in all the world whom you love best. You are adding to your life not only the affection of each other, but also the companionship and blessing of a deep trust as well. You are agreeing to share strength, responsibilities and to share love. ……

Music?

Wedding Vows (please turn, face one another, and hold hands…)

Joe, do you take Aryn to be your wedded wife; to live together in marriage, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and respect always? “I DO”

Aryn, do you take Joe to be your wedded husband; to live together in marriage, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and respect always? “I DO”

Exchanging Rings
Q: What do you offer as a symbol of your love and care for one another?
May these rings be forever a sign of your unbroken circle of love. Love freely given has no beginning and no end, no giver and no receiver, for each is the giver and each is the receiver. May these rings always remind you of the vows you have taken today.
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“Aryn, I offer you this ring as a sign of my enduring love, absolute honesty, and complete devotion.”

“Joe, I offer you this ring as a sign of my enduring love, absolute honesty, and complete devotion.”

Concluding Words and Pronouncement

Blessing Of The Apaches:
Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years, may happiness be with you and your days together be good and long upon the earth.

Aryn and Joe have chosen to be married here today, in God’s natural light and surroundings. As we breathe in the moment of happiness, and the wonder of lasting peace, harmony, and true heartfelt contentment.

Now, in the glad recognition of two souls who have found each other, who are in love, and who have pledged their loyalty and affection to one another by the exchanging of rings, by the power invested in me by the state of Vermont, by the blessings and good wishes of all these witnesses, and by the eternal Spirit that lives in, with and among us all, I gladly pronounce that you are now husband and wife!

Joe, you may kiss your bride! Congratulations, and go in peace! So BE IT!

The Wedding Service
for
Lori Knackstedt and Marek
The Hobcaw Creek Club
June 15, 2008
The Rev. Peter E. Lanzillotta, Ph.D.

Processional:

Welcome, Everyone!
Today we come together to celebrate the marriage of Lori and Marek. …
What greater joy is there, for two human souls, than to feel they are joined together to strengthen one another in all their labors, to minister to each other in all sorrow, to share with each other in all gladness? To be one with each other in the creation of those unspoken memories.
Marek and Lori are thrilled that all of you have come from near and far to share this joyful day with them. They would like to thank every one of you for being here with them as they embark on this new stage of their lives. The history you bring together for them, as their friends and family, defines so much of who they are as individuals and will help guide them as a couple. They would especially like to thank their parents, Mary & Tom, Valeria & Peter, who have demonstrated how to live together in love and respect. Between the two sets of parents, there are 68 years of marriage. HUGS.

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Marek and Lori also want to acknowledge the family and friends that couldn’t be here. We know they would have loved to share in this celebration and that their thoughts are with us.

Marek and Lori, today we gather to witness and celebrate your marriage. You have chosen to make this commitment here along the Hobcaw Creek, outdoors under the blue sky, next to the running water and green marsh. You share a love for nature, and the times you have spent at the waters’ edge, next to lakes and oceans, for those experiences have given you peace and a sense of connectedness with all life.
You have learned that falling in love with another person, and getting to know them, is a little like the exploration of a wild and lovely place, and that loving another person can deepen your sense of connectedness to all life. As we breathe in this moment of happiness, let us look around, and appreciate the wonders of nature, and the wonder that includes for each of us the renewal of love for one another.
We will now hear two readings that speak to the love that Lori & Marek feel for one another. Both readings are poems by the Sufi poet, Rumi. They will be read in English by Kim Michner and in then in Slovak by the sister of the groom, Ivana Schwendtova.

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READING #1

The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you,
not knowing how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.

READING #2 Entering the Shell

Love is alive, and someone borne along by it is more alive than lions roaring or men in their fierce courage.
Bandits ambush others on the road. They get wealth, but they stay in one place. Lovers keep moving, never the same, not for a second!
What makes others grieve, they enjoy!

When they look angry, don’t believe their faces. It’s spring lightning,
a joke before the rain. They chew thorns thoughtfully along with pasture grass.
Gazelle and lioness, having dinner.
Love is invisible except here, in us.
Sometimes I praise love; sometimes love praises me.
Love, a little shell somewhere on the ocean floor, opens its mouth.
You and I and we, those imaginary beings,
enter that shell as a single sip of sea water.

Song/Music: Rebecca Brown will now sing “The Power of Two”
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Words To The Couple:
Marek and Lori, as you know, a good marriage requires the willingness to accept each other’s strong and weak points with understanding and to encourage the other to grow. You both realize that happiness in marriage is not a given.
The poem Art of Marriage by Wilfred A. Peterson says:
“The little things are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands. It is remembering to say ‘I love you’ at least once a day. It is never going to sleep angry. It is at no time taking the other for granted; it is having a mutual sense of values and common goals.
It is standing together facing the world. It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. It is not looking for perfection in each other. It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor. It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow. It is a common search for the good and the beautiful. It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.”

These are wonderful guidelines, and following them will make the two of you partners for life. …

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Marek & Lori have adapted vows originally written by Frau Ava in the year 1160. They will now say these vows to each other.
VOWS:
Q: May I have the rings?
The commitment ring is a symbol of wholeness, perfection and peace. May your lives together be in harmony with the symbolism of the ring: an outward expression of an inward unity as you are now joined in an unbroken circle.
Marek, do you now choose Lori to be your wife, to share your life openly with her, to speak honestly and lovingly to her, to accept her fully as she is and delight in who she is becoming, to forgive her when she disappoints you, to bring out the best in her always, to respect her uniqueness and individuality, encourage her fulfillment, and compassionately support her through all the challenges of your years together?
Marek: I Do (places ring).

Lori, do you now choose Marek to be your husband, to share your life openly with him, to speak honestly and lovingly to him, to accept him fully as he is and delight in who he is becoming, to forgive him when he disappoints you, to bring out the best in him always, to respect his uniqueness and individuality, encourage his fulfillment, and compassionately support him through all the challenges of your years together?
Lori: I Do (places ring)
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You have chosen each other and have promised each other your devotion today. May happiness be your companion. May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years to come. May your days together be good and long upon the earth.

You are now husband and wife. You may kiss the bride!

The Wedding Service for
Douglas Andrew Petroff and Jan Christie Schmidgall
Pinnacle Peak Patio Restaurant Scottsdale, Arizona
June 7, 1997 at 7:30 PM

Opening Words and the Ceremony:
The Reverend Peter Edward Lanzillotta, Ph.D.

Doug and Jan have invited you to be here with them this evening, to join them in the celebration of their marriage.
More than just a ceremony, this is among the more momentous occasions that define one’s life. Tonight, Doug and Jan are surrounded by you, their family and friends, who are gathered to witness your marriage.
They have come here, and in our presence will declare their love for each other and will be united in marriage. In this ceremony, we will celebrate the love that exists between them, for it touches each one of us here tonight.
To all the family and friends of Doug and Jan, and to all who has so far shared your lives with them, and to all who have traveled so far to be here today so that they might share in the joy and happiness of this occasion, I say, welcome…
Words To The Couple:
Let us pause for a moment, to give thanks for all the rich experiences that life has brought to both Jan and Doug. We are grateful for the values that have been given to them and that have flowed by example into them from loved ones who have nurtured them all along life’s way. We want to especially acknowledge the gifts of love and caring of their two fathers, Rocky Myers and Chris Petroff, who would be pleased, and that we believe are watching over us tonight.

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Song:

Jan and Doug, marriage is not entered into lightly. It is when two persons turn to each other in search of a greater fulfillment than either can achieve alone. A good marriage is built upon a relationship of love. Essentially, to love is to have another’s best interests in one’s heart always and foremost. It is to live in the life of that person, feeling his or her joys and sorrows as if they were your own.
From this day forward, you must unite, you must love, trust, and support one another. But, at the same time, your love should give you strength to stand apart, to seek out your own unique destinies, and to make your own special contribution to our world.
In your married life, you should remember the words of St. Paul, who taught that while talent and knowledge are wonderful gifts, love is the one thing required of us in life.
He taught that:
“Love is patient. Love is kind, and envies no one.
Love is never boastful nor conceited nor rude.
It is never selfish, nor quick to take offense.
Love keeps no score of wrongs; it does not gloat
over another’s sins, but delights itself only in
the truth. There is nothing that love cannot face;
There is no limit to its faith, its hope, or its endurance. In a word, there are three things that
will last forever: faith, hope and love, but the
greatest of these is love.” (I Cor. 13 NEB)
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Statement of Intention / The Wedding Vows Doug and Jan, please turn, face one another, and hold hands…

The hands offered by each of you are extensions of yourselves, they link your mutual love. Cherish this touch, for through your hands, you touch another’s heart, and another’s life.
Be sensitive to its pulse. Seek always to understand its flow, and respect its rhythms.

Doug, will you have this woman to be your wedded wife, to share your life with her, and do you pledge that you will love, honor, and care for her throughout your lives?

“I WILL”

Jan, will you have this man to be your wedded husband, to

share your life with him, and do you pledge that you will

love, honor, and care for him throughout your lives?

“I WILL”

“I Jan, take you, Doug, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, as long as we both shall live.

“I Doug, take you, Jan, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, as long as we both shall live.

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The Exchange of Rings/Ring Blessing
Q: What do you offer as a symbol of your love?
A: “THESE RINGS”
The circle is the symbol of wholeness and perfection. May these rings be forever symbols of the unbroken circle of your love. Love freely given has no giver and has no receiver, for each is the giver and each is the receiver. May these rings remind you always of the vows you have taken here tonight.

Minister offers the rings to bride and groom…

Doug: “Jan, I give you this ring as a symbol of my enduring love… With this ring, I thee wed…”

Jan: “Doug, I give you this ring as a symbol of my enduring love… With this ring, I thee wed…”

Statement of Inclusion for Blended Families:

Now I would like to talk with and
Your mother and Doug want me to express that you are both very important to them. They feel that they have chosen the very best partners they could have found, and together feel that they can care for you and support you through all your new years together.
Tonight starts the beginning of a new family. Are you willing to say that belonging to this new family is a good thing? Can you pledge to Doug and to your mother your cooperation, respect, support and patience?
“WE WILL”

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Wedding Prayer/Pronouncement

Let us offer a prayer that blesses this occasion:

” Holy, Loving, and Compassionate One, Jan and Doug have chosen each other and have promised each other their love and devotion. They have symbolized this by the exchanging of rings.
May all that life brings to them strengthen the bond they have declared here this night. May all their loved one, those who are present, and those unable to be here, continue to rejoice in the love that has united them. May they be a comfort and a joy, counsel and strength to each other. May the home they build shed its peace on them and all who shelter with them.
AMEN

Jan and Doug have chosen to be married here, tonight, in God’s natural light and surroundings. As we breathe in this moment of happiness, let us pause and look around and appreciate the wonders of nature and of God, that surely includes for all of us, a renewal of love for each other.

Doug and Jan, I now gladly pronounce that you are husband and wife.

Congratulations…
You may kiss the bride… and go in peace….

The Wedding Service for
Jamie Kirsch and Ryan Sens

Paxton, Massachusetts
June 26, 2004

Opening Words and The Wedding Service: The Reverend Peter E. Lanzillotta, Ph.D.

Good evening to all the family and friends of Jaime and Ryan who have gathered here today. Welcome… welcome to this celebration of love and romance. We meet here today in the light and warmth of this garden setting to witness a special event- a time when two souls will be joined as one— in the company of family, friends, in the presence of God, and in the loving regard and graces of those souls who cannot be with us.
Marriage is a relational bridge between the past and the future. Crossing that interpersonal bridge requires opening up to receive what lies ahead. Marriage is a going forth, a transformation from what you are to what you will become. Jaime and Ryan were each venturing down a path of individuality, without any thought to finding a lasting connection. But then the gracious intervention of entities and energies greater than any human being has allowed them to find one another. Now, they have come to this day, to declare publicly what they have already decided in their hearts, for from this time onward, they will travel the same path of life together. Their decision to follow this common road has already had a profound effect on them, and on all those who closely surround them. This wedding is a public affirmation of the commitment that Jaime and Ryan have already made to each other.

Memorial Candles are lit by Jaime and Ryan

Jaime and Ryan ask that you all take a moment of silence as they light the memorial candles in loving memory of their grandparents Roberta and Irving Kirsch & Betty and Edward Sens.

Reading #1 – – Lenee Sens
What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen each other in all labor, to minister to each other in all sorrow, to share with each other in all gladness, to be one with each other in the silent unspoken memories.

Reading #2- – Megan Rasimick
I love you, not only for what you are but for what I am when I am with you;
Not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me.
I love you for the part of me that you bring out;
I love you for putting your hand into my heaped-up heart
And passing over all the foolish, weak things that you can’t help dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out into the light all the beautiful belongings that no one else had looked quite far enough to find.
I love you because you are helping me to make of the lumber of my life not a tavern but a temple;
Out of the works of my every day not a reproach but a song
I love you because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me good,
And more than any fate could have done to make me happy,
You have done it without a touch, without a word, without a sign.
You have done it by being yourself.

Words to the Couple
One of the greatest blessings you can give to one another is your willingness to support each other’s spiritual growth- growth in values, in character, and in service to one another, your family and our world. As a vital part of this commitment to caring is the willingness to forgive, and to accept that each of you is an unfinished, ever-changing person whose ability to love grows only as ones ego and fears diminish. Jaime and Ryan, you are about to enter into a union which is most sacred and most serious. It will bind you together for life in a relationship so close and so intimate that it will profoundly affect your whole future. Know that your composite experiences are turning you into the highest form of yourselves, and that you are becoming the best and the most that you both can be.
I ask that you consider my words carefully and take them in to each day of your lives; to remember that you are promising to love for the long and ambiguous future, and to listen, to talk, and to grow. . .To listen, because what the other person has to say matters deeply. . .To talk, because your willingness to express and share yourself and to offer all the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of who you are and how you feel toward one another is necessary… And to grow, to grow in dignity, self worth, mutual respect, and in the qualities of patience and kindness. To grow that kind of love- that is your supreme goal. Marriage involves the kind of growth in love that can sustain itself and confirm itself each new day.

Unity Candle
By lighting this candle together Jaime and Ryan create a symbol of the faith- it is a physical representation of that greater spirit that has brought them together and that will continue to influence and guide their lives. May the light of this candle and all that it represents, stay lit in their hearts forever.

Jaime and Ryan’s Vows memorized

Ryan’s Vows

I Ryan take you Jaime to be my wife. I will love, honor and cherish you for eternity. I pledge to be there for you through the good times and the hard, through sickness and health. I vow to do my best to make you laugh, and to provide for you whatever you need. I promise to be caring, honest, helpful and compassionate throughout all of our life. I promise to show you each day how my love grows more and more.

Jaime’s Vows

I, Jaime, take thee, Ryan, as my one and only true love. Today, we join our love together, forever, and may this bond never be broken. As your wife, I promise from this day forward and for the eternity that I will stand by your side, that I will be faithful and honest to you, that I will support and respect you, and that I will share all your hopes, dreams and goals with you. May the good times make us laugh and the bad times only make us stronger. And, may the memories we make together never be forgotten. Ryan, I promise to love you unconditionally, from this day forth, and forever.

Ring Ceremony
Rings are an ancient symbol, blessed and simple. Round like the sun, like the eye, like the arms that embrace; Circles, for love that is given comes back around again and again. Therefore, may these symbols always remind you that your love, like the sun illuminates; that your love, like the eye must see clearly, and that your love, like arms that embrace, is a grace upon yourselves and this world.

Pronouncement and Presentation of the Couple

The Wedding Service
for
Ira Wilcox Allen and Alissa Leanne Manross
Early on Easter Morning, April 12, 1998
(Somewhere above Cave Creek and Carefree, Arizona)

Opening Address:
We have gathered here this Sunday, at the beginning of a new day, and at the beginning of a time when two lives will become one; we have gathered together, up in the natural wonder of wind and air, to celebrate the marriage of Ira Allen and Alissa Manross.
In this ceremony, Ira & Lisa will confirm their love publicly, one and for all, to the people they know and love.
Because these two hearts have decided to enter into a lifelong bliss; Ira & Lisa have invited you up to the heavens to share and to celebrate this special occasion together.

Words To The Couple:

Ira & Lisa, today you are surrounded by your family in the open sky of love. Your marriage ceremony brings together true aspiration and dreams. Marriage is a promise you make before God, and with each other. It is a promise to be honest, kind, considerate and understanding. It is a promise to share one life together and in that sharing, soar like the birds in formation. When two people truly love one another, each provides room and space, trust and opportunity for the other to become everything that he or she desires to be. Essentially, to love is to hold one another’s heart firmly, yet tenderly in the palm of your hand, and delicately care for it as if your own life depended on it.
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Marriage is the sharing of two lives as one. In the strength of this togetherness, comes the freedom to maintain your individuality. only by being true to yourselves and expressing your individuality, can you give yourself completely to the one you love.

The Marriage Vows:

(Please turn and face one another and hold hands)
Ira, are you ready to be united with Lisa in a marriage that is based on love, trust, and commitment?

“I AM”
“Lisa, I commit myself to you; through all the joys and sorrows, all the triumphs and hardships, and all the experience
of our lives together. I pledge myself to only you. This is a commitment made in love, kept in faith, lived in hope of a lasting peace, and to be filled with joy eternally.”

Lisa, are you ready to be united with Ira in a marriage that is based on love, trust, and commitment?

“I AM”
“Ira, I commit myself to you; through all the joys and sorrows, all the triumphs and hardships, and all the experience
of our lives together. I pledge my heart and soul to you only, in a commitment made in love, kept in faith, lived in hope.
I trust you entirely. I give myself to you on this morning, from now to eternity.”

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The Ring Prayer:

Love is eternal, like the circle of a ring… The circle is the symbol of the Sun, the earth, and the universe. Love is the image of wholeness, perfection, and peace. May these rings be forever a symbol of your unbroken love.
” With this ring, I thee wed, and pledge my faithful love.”
Closing Prayer:

Out of this tangled world, two souls have found each other, and their mutual love has drawn them together , and now, in being married, their destinies shall be woven of one design.
As they increase in their mutual understanding, may their joy stand victorious in the richness of their affections. May they complete the unfinished patterns of their true selves.
Let the days and years of their togetherness deepen the joy of their choice here today, and make it abidingly true.

Pronouncement:

You have entered into the solemn covenant of marriage before our Creator and in front of your family here today. In the recognition of your desire to unite your hearts in a mutual love, by the power entrusted to me, I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU TO BE HUSBAND AND WIFE!
Congratulations! Ira, you may kiss your bride!

Optional Ending ?!? (Closing joke for the fearful and feeble aboard…)
To make this occasion even more memorable, we will now all prepare to bungee jump off the side of the balloon!!!

The Wedding Service for
Melissa Anderson and Frank Larance
Beaver Creek
June 27th, 1998 at 4:00 PM
Sedona, Arizona

Opening Words and Ceremony
The Reverend Peter Edward Lanzillotta, Ph.D.

Today, Melissa and Frank are committing to share life’s sojourn together as wife and husband – not as one, but as two individuals who now have chosen to walk, heart to heart,
hand in hand. The essence of this marriage commitment is the joining of hands and hearts in search of greater fulfillment than either could achieve alone.
Matrimony symbolizes the ultimate intimacy between a man and a woman; yet the closeness should not diminish but reinforce the individuality of each partner. This ability to love one another, while growing as individuals – therein lies the true strength of a marriage. Each of you must seek out your own unique destinies and make your personal contributions to our world.
Love is a precious thing, waiting with in each one of us for its time to come alive. What greater joy is there for two human souls than to awaken this gift of love? Every aspect of your life becomes clear, brought into focus by a single emotion – love. This sensation, this joy, at least once in life, everyone should feel.
A lasting marriage has within it, a lasting love-one that welcomes change, and finds that it can adjust, and grow. A truly good marriage is based not on finding the right partner but being the right partner.

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Words to the Couple

Melissa and Frank, many paths have led you to this destination, this place where you know, in your hearts, you belong. Your journey has brought you here, to the beginning of a new path. There are two paths for each of you to follow: each person’s path that is theirs alone to follow and then the new path for you to follow together. Embrace these separate paths. Walk along your path together hand in hand, but frequently take the journey with in. Find and open up new doors to your own spirituality.
One of the greatest blessings you can give to one another is the willingness to support each other’s spiritual growth: growth in values, character, and in service to one another and our world. As a vital part of this commitment is the ability to understand, to accept, and forgive the other person and as each of you learns to understand, to accept, and forgive your selves, as well. Each of you are unfinished, growing person’s whose love grows and flourishes as your ego and fears diminish. To achieve this, work toward creating an atmosphere of care and consideration, soon everyday will become a new discovery along your journey in life.

Selected Readings:
(Mark Bono has been asked by the couple to read from the Chinese wisdom text, The Tao Teh Ching.) #54

What is well planted cannot be uprooted. What is well embraced cannot slip away…
Cultivate virtue in your own person, And it becomes a genuine part of you.
Cultivate it in the family, And it will abide.
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Cultivate it in the community, And it will live and grow…
Cultivate it in the world and it will become a universal.
Hence, a person must be judged as person; A family as family; A community as community… The world as world.
How do I know about the world?
By what is within me.

1923-Poem from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran:
On Marriage
“Then Almitra spoke again and said, And what of Marriage, master? And he answered by saying:
You were born together and you shall be forevermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But let there be space in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each others cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone; Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping, For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near togetherness: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, so that they might be sturdy and strong- And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow so that each can grow into the fullness of life.”

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Introduction To The Vows:

Melissa and Frank have chosen to symbolize their union with a double ring ceremony including vows. In a moment each will place a wedding ring on their partner’s left fourth finger and after reciting their marriage vows, the receiving partner will move the ring on / the rest of the way. This is done to demonstrate that on one can wed you but yourself. It can be said out here among us but until and unless it is done inside, from our soul it does not have genuine meaning.

As Melissa and Frank exchange rings and vows they would like for you to form a circle around them with your hands connected.

(Pause until circle is complete.)

Ring or Circle Prayer: The circle is the symbol of the sun, the earth, and the universe. It is the image of wholeness, perfection, and peace. It is also the circle of life. May these rings be forever a sign of the life, full of unending love, that you have decided to share hand in hand together.

The Wedding Vows:

Frank: Please put the ring on Melissa’s finger, but only half way, thereby placing your offer of marriage in her hands.
Melissa look into Frank’s eyes, hold one another’s hands, while you state your vows of marriage.

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(Vows) Melissa
You challenge my soul to rise and grow. You inspire me to move forward along this journey with out forgetting the lessons learned. You are my teacher, as well as my student. You are a gift to my spirit. These are the reasons why I, Melissa Ann Anderson, promise to you, Frank Gregory Larance, to share this dance through life’s journey with you, to appreciate and nourish your soul, and to respect you not only as a husband but as an individual within this marriage.
The water and land abide in their separateness even though they flow and shape their personal forms, working together to produce a beautiful creek… I will, my love, like the creek, join you in a flowing marriage that will respect our individuality, that will continue exploring all that this life’s sojourn has to offer, the turbulence and the tranquillity, the never-ending, ever-changing grace or separateness that joins in togetherness, and I know that I will enjoy the beauty of the journey with you into eternity.

To bride: Melissa now place the ring to its rightful place upon your finger in demonstration that only you can truly wed yourself to Frank and say to him now:
“I Wed Thee.”

To bride: Melissa, put the ring on Frank’s finger, but only half way, thereby placing your offer of marriage in his hands.
To groom: Frank look into Melissa’s eyes, holding hands, and now saying your vows of marriage.

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(Vows) Frank
As we start this new chapter in our lives, I look forward with anticipation to the adventure. Your passion for life tickles my soul, and challenges my spirit.
Our relationship is one that is based on sharing. The water and land share while at the same time maintaining their individuality. Through a mutual agreement of give and take we both shall grow and flow down and around new directions together.
I promise to be both your best friend and an advocate for exploring new currents, and learning about each new rock, rapid, and rhythm. For it is through the challenging of the mind and spirit that we learn and develop. I promise never to take you for granted, and to pay attention to your needs, desires, and dreams for our shared eternity. It is through this perpetual balance act that we will dance over the rocks, and down through the stream of life together.

To groom: Frank, now place the ring to its rightful place upon your finger in demonstration that only you can truly wed yourself to Melissa and say to her now:
“I Wed Thee.”

Pronouncement
As two people who have joyfully chosen one another, and by your mutual affection that links your hearts in devotion,
I now gladly pronounce that you are husband and wife –
and may your river of dreams, and the flow of your love continue your whole life long!
You may kiss! Congratulations – Go live in peace.
Recessional

1923-Poem from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran:
On Friendship
“And a youth said, Speak to us on Friendship.
And he answered, saying:
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you with hold the “ay”.
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with the joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as a mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let their be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable caught it.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know your flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”

The vows you are about to exchange are a promise to one another of eternal love, appreciation, and respect. For it is not the mere words which you will speak today that will keep your marriage healthy, but it is the inner sense of love and commitment that each of you feels in your soul.

1923-Poem from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran:
On Friendship
“And a youth said, Speak to us on Friendship.
And he answered, saying:
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you with hold the “ay”.
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with the joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as a mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let their be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable caught it.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know your flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”

The Wedding Service for
Christine Marie Silvis and Richard Lee Kaulback
Litchfield By the Sea
October 27, 2007

Opening Words:
Today, we are gathered here to be with Christine and Rick as they join their lives in marriage. In marriage, two people turn to each other in search of a greater fulfillment than either can achieve alone. Marriage is a constant commitment of body, mind, and spirit, of loyalty and love, whose dedication and devotion allows love to unfold and strengthen, blossoming more beautifully through each year of their days together.
May Christine and Rick have the faith in one another and the confidence in themselves to nurture the life they have chosen to live as husband and wife.

Words of Appreciation and Affirmation
Christine and Rick wanted me to thank all of you for coming here today, and for your willingness to share in their celebration. The history you bring together for this couple, as their friends and as members of their families, defines much of who they are as individuals, and what they can become as a couple.
You have helped them to arrive here today as happy, healthy, and loving people, willing and ready to share their lives together.
They are grateful for the values that have been bestowed on them from those who have loved and nurtured them along life’ way. Let us in the midst of hope for this couple’ future, also lovingly acknowledge and recall the memory of those who could not be present, but whose spirit and example remains with us.
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On Marriage
Marriage is a commitment to take the joy deep, deeper than happiness, deep into the discovery of who you most truly are. It is a commitment to a shared spiritual journey, to a life of becoming– in which, joy can comprehend despair; running through rivers of pain and flowing into joy again.
Thus, marriage is more than a commitment, it is a covenant. In this covenant, the two people say ” I love you, trust you, I will be here for you when you are in pain, and when I am in pain, I will not leave. Marriage is a covenant intended not to provide a haven or an escape from pain, anger or sorrow. Life itself, cannot offer such a haven. Instead, marriage is intended to provide each partner with a sanctuary – a place safe enough to risk loving, to risk living and sharing from the deep center of oneself. This kind of covenant is worth everything.

Words to the Couple
Christine and Rick, many paths have led you to this destination, this place where you know that you belong. Your journey has brought you here, the beginning of the rest of your life. Your dreams are something you have never compromised, and that has never been more true than here and now. Only you can truly marry yourselves. By a mutual commitment to love each other, to work toward creating an atmosphere of care, consideration and respect, by the willingness to face the tensions and anxieties that underlie human life, soon every day will become a new discovery of love, life and your future.

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Let the desire to hold and uphold peace rule in your hearts. Christine and Rick, one of the greatest blessings you can give one another is the willingness to support each other’ spiritual growth, growth in values, character, and in service to one another and to the world. As a vital part of this commitment is the willingness to forgive, to accept that each of you is an unfinished, growing person whose love grows as their ego and fears diminish.
The excitement of the future lies in the mystery that it holds, and it beauty lies in having someone to explore that beauty with. When you look into each other’ eyes, may you see not only your love for each other, but all your hope and dreams of tomorrow, and may you find something to treasure in every moment you are together.

Unity Heart of Glass -Sand Ceremony
Will the mothers please come forward, carrying and then distributing the sand to symbolize the merging of two families, their lives, and their traditions.
Now, Christine and Rick, it is your turn to affirm and carry on this connection, this blending of families, as you start a new family of your own. By combining the sand from your families into one glass, you symbolize that there is now a blending of the best of the old with the promise of the new… Now there is a new family being created, a new married life to celebrate and a lifetime to share.

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The Wedding Vows ( please turn, face one another, and hold hands…)

The hands you offer to one another are extensions of yourselves, they link your mutual love. Cherish its touch, for you have touched another heart and another’ life. Be sensitive to it’ pulse. Seek always to understand it flow and respect its rhythms.
Christine and Rick: Will you take one another as husband and wife? Will you love and respect one another? Will you trust one another, always? Will you stand by one another and face whatever may come with strength, patience and love? WE WILL

Christine: I, Christine, take you, Rick, to be my wedded husband; to laugh with you in joy, to grieve with you in sorrow; to grow with you in love, serving one another and our world in hope and in strength, so long as we both shall live.

Rick: I, Rick, take you, Christine, to be my wedded wife; to laugh with you in joy, to grieve with you in sorrow; to grow with you in love, serving one another and our world in hope and in strength, so long as we both shall live.

The Exchange of Rings
The Ring Blessing:
Love is eternal, like the circle of a ring. The circle is the symbol for the Sun, the Earth, and the Universe. It is the image of wholeness, perfection and peace. May these rings be a forever symbol of your unbroken love.
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Love freely given has no giver and has no receiver, for each is the giver and each is the receiver. May these rings remind you always of the vows you have taken today.
Pronouncement:
May the meaning of these moments be fulfilled in the years to come in the lives of Christine and Rick, may their unity of spirit grow deeper and stronger in the chances and changes of the life they will share. May they be strength and comfort to one another and the cause of much mutual happiness. Loving each other, may they reach out to love others in their circle and to serve humankind, and the earth upon which we dwell.
In the glad recognition of your desire to unite your hearts in mutual love and affection, I most happily pronounce that you are now husband and wife… You may kiss!

Community Blessing Stones
As the family and friends of Rick and Christine, you are now invited to participate in a shared ritual that connects each and everyone of us to the ripples of life and love… The idea of this is that the ripples that are made represent everyone’ paths crossing and by tossing in a stone with your blessings, you can bring love and good wishes not only for the couple, and by tossing the stones together, you will remember your rippling effects on one another, and will be willing to offer a blessing to anyone that they comes in contact with you over the coming year… Proceed to the waters edge… Ask people to stop, look at their stone, whisper a blessing for R&C, for yourselves, and all you might meet…. Toss it In! Celebration!

THE WEDDING CEREMONY OF THERESA EBERHARD AND RICHARD ASCH
LIGHTHOUSE, CASTLE HILL INN, NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND
AUGUST 31, 2002
THE REVEREND PETER EDWARD LANZILLOTTA Ph.D.

Opening Words: Theresa and Richard, many paths have led you to this destination, this place where you know you belong. Your journey has brought you here, to the beginning of the rest of your life. Your dreams are something you’ve never compromised, and has never been more true than now.
In spirit and in truth, only you can truly marry yourselves. By mutual commitment to love each other, to work toward creating an atmosphere of care and consideration and respect, by a willingness to face the tensions and anxieties that underlie human life, soon every day will become a new discovery of love, of life and your future….. Let the desire to love and uphold peace rule in your hearts….
Theresa and Richard, one of the greatest blessings you can give to one another is the willingness to support each other’s spiritual growth; growth in values, character and in service to one another and to our world. As a vital part of this commitment is the willingness to forgive; to accept that each of you is an unfinished, growing person who’s love grows.

The excitement of the future lies in the mystery it holds, and its beauty is having someone to explore it with. When you look into each other’s eyes, may you see not only your love for each other, but all your hopes and dreams of tomorrow, and may you find something to treasure in every moment you are together.

Statement of Intention

Theresa and Richard, please turn and face each other and join your right hands…

The hand offered by each of you is an extension of yourself; it links your mutual love. Cherish its touch, for you have touched another’s heart and another’s life. Be sensitive to its pulse. Seek always to understand its flow and respect its rhythm.

Q: Theresa and Richard, Will you take one another as husband and wife? Will you love and respect one another? Will you trust one another always? Will you stand by one another and face whatever may come with strength, patience and love? “We Will”

The Wedding Vows
(Please turn and face one another and hold hands…. Minister asks the bride and groom to please repeat their vows)

“I Terry, Take you Richard to be my husband, my constant friend, and my true love. On this special day, I affirm to you in the presence of God, my sacred promise to stay by your side, as your wife, in sickness and health, in joy and sorrow, through good times and bad.”
This is my vow to you”

“I, Richard, Take you Terry, to be my wife, my constant friend, and my true love. On this special day, I affirm to you in the presence of God, my sacred promise to stay by your side, as your husband, in sickness and health, in joy and sorrow, through good times and bad.
This is my vow”

“What do you offer as a sign of your love and trust?”
“These rings.”

THE RING BLESSING AND THE EXCHANGE OF RINGS

The circle is the exchange of the sun, the earth and the universe, of wholeness, perfection and peace…
May these rings forever be a sign of your unbroken circle of love. Love freely given has no beginning and has no end.
Love freely given has no giver and has no receiver for each is the giver and each is the receiver. May these rings remind you always of the vows you have taken here today.

Terry please repeat after me:
“With this ring, I thee wed and pledge my faithful love.”

Richard please repeat after me,
“With this ring, I thee wed, and pledge my faithful love.”

PRONOUNCEMENT AND BLESSING
In the glad recognition of your desire to unite your hearts in mutual love and affection, I most happily pronounce you Husband and Wife.

May these two people, now married, keep this covenant that they have made. May they be a blessing and a comfort to each other, Sharers of each other’s joys, consolers in each other’s sorrows, helpers to each other in all the vicissitudes of life.
May they encourage each other in whatever they set out to achieve. May they, trusting in each other, trust life and not be afraid . Yet may they not only accept and give affection between themselves, but together have affection and consideration for others.
May Terry and Richard love one another forever.

The Wedding Ceremony of Michael Astor and Shanna Annoni
May 27, 2006 4:30 in the afternoon
Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis

Greetings and The Ceremony: The Reverend Peter E Lanzillotta, Ph.D.
Welcome everyone…. Today we come together to witness a precious union between two people. It is through such a union that we can discover the very essence of the human capacity to love and respect another human being. Marriage is a going forth, it is a bold step into a united future. It is a transformation from what we are to what we can become. Only in giving of oneself and through the sharing of oneself with another, can the mysterious process of growth ever take place. In this wedding ceremony, we have gathered to celebrate the love that is between them, for it touches each one of us today. Shanna and Mike wish to thank all of you for coming here today to share this celebration with them.
The history that you bring together for them as their family and friends defines much of who they are as individuals and also who they can become as a couple. You have helped them to arrive here today as happy, healthy, and loving people who are ready to share their lives together. With and through these intimate associations of the past, they have been given a solid foundation for a lasting marriage. The love and friendship which has surrounded them has led them to this turning point in their lives; the ceremony of marriage, from which they will begin to create their united future.
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Before we continue with the vows and there est of the ceremony, I’d like to take a moment to read a passage that Michael and Shanna chose as an expression of what they feel it is to love another person and to join together in marriage.
>From the poet Kahil Gibran’s “The Prophet”
“Love one another, but make not a bond of that love. Let it rather be like a moving sea between the shores of your souls. And stand together, and yet not too near together. For even the pillars of the temple must stand apart; and the oak tree and the cypress will not grow in each other’s shadow. Remember that love gives nothing but from itself. Love possesses not, nor would it be possessed, for love is sufficient unto love. And think not that you can direct the course of love. For love, if it finds you worthy, will direct your course.”

Now, I’d like to ask Lubie Astor, the mother of the groom, to come forward to read a selection that she has chosen from the Orthodox Church’s Right of Betrothal.
……
Thank you, Lubie.
Introduction to the Vows:
Shanna and Mike, many paths have led you to this destination, this place where you know you belong. Your journey has brought you here, to the beginning of your lives together.

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A couple realizes the state of marriage only through a mutual commitment to love one another, to work toward creating a mutual atmosphere of caring, consideration, respect, and love. You achieve the goals of marriage by your shared willingness to face your futures together. These vows you are about to exchange will serve as your public declaration of the love you feel and have already pledged to one another. For it is not the words that you speak here today that will bond you together as one, but the inner sense of love and commitment to those words that you have already spoken within your souls.
It is at these special times and in our most gracious moments, that each of us can reflect on how love and expressing love has comforted and inspired us. Whether thinking about a loved one … Be it a parent, a spouse, or your children, we recognize gratefully that there is no greater motive in the world- no greater comfort, no greater inspiration that loving and being loved….
Statement of intention:
Shanna and Mike, please turn to face each other and join your hands together…. The hand offered by each of you is an extension of yourselves; it links you together as one, bound by your love. Cherish its touch, for you have touched another’s heart and another’s soul. Be sensitive to its pulse. Seek always to understand its flow and respect its rhythm.
Shanna and Michael, will you take one another as husband and wife? Do you promise to live your lives together with love and respect for one another? Will you stand by each other as honest and faithful people to face your journey together down life’s path with strength and patience and faith in God? YES, WE PROMISE.
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Ring Statement:
What do you give to each other as a symbol of your love and of your promise?
“THESE RINGS” (Minister receives the rings from friends and family….)

Ring Prayer:
A circle is the symbol of the sun and the earth and the universe; of wholeness and perfection and peace. May these rings be forever the symbol of the unbroken circle of your love. A circle has no beginning and no end. As does Love, when given freely, has no beginning and no end. May these rings remind you always of the vows you have taken here today and of the everlasting circle of love.

Words from Bride / Groom
With this ring, I thee wed, and pledge my faithful love to you forever.
With this ring, I thee wed, and pledge my faithful love to you forever

Words from A Marriage Blessing:
We thank You, O God, for the love You have implanted in our hearts.
May it always inspire us to be kind in our words, considerate of feelings, and concerned for each other’s needs and wishes.
Help us to be understanding and forgiving of human weaknesses and failings. Increase our faith and trust in You and may Your prudence guide our life and love. Bless this marriage, O God, with peace and happiness, and make our Love fruitful for Your glory and our joy both here and in eternity.

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May these two people keep this covenant that they have made. May they be a blessing and a comfort to one another; sharing in each other’s joys and consoling in each other’s sorrows; Helpers to each other in all the areas of their lives. May they encourage each other in whatever they set out to achieve. May they always trust in each other, trust in GOD, and live their lives in joy, faith, and loving peace. AMEN

Pronouncement:
Now, with the blessings of all their family and friends gathered here today, under the authority vested in me by the state of Minnesota,
I gladly pronounce that you are husband and wife.
Michael, You may kiss your bride!

Ladies and gentlemen; I gladly present to you,
Mr. and Mrs. Michael and Shanna Astor

Congratulations! Go, In Peace!

The Wedding Service
For
Paracel Lee and Catherine Honse
Como Park Conservatory St. Paul, Minnesota
June 12, 2005

Good Afternoon, and Welcome!
This afternoon, we have gathered here to share in one of the most special occasions that any two people can have or experience: Their wedding service. For Paracel and Cate, this time shared before their family and friends is truly a turning point: For it marks both an ending and a new beginning.
Q: Will the parents of Paracel and Cate please step forward?
As Cate and Paracel now join their lives in marriage, they also bring to you a new relationship, creating new bonds of trust, and new ties of caring and affection. Will you give them your blessing? Will you give them your love and support? If you do, please express your consent by saying “WE WILL”
Friends, the Bride and groom have invited you here because you are important people in their lives… Your love and support for each of them , and for their relationship is valuable. Will you now, give and express your love, blessing and support to them?

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Will you do everything possible to help them to preserve and honor their marriage? If so, then please give me you consent by saying together, “WE WILL”

Pastoral Message:
In marriage, two people turn to one another in search of a greater fulfillment than either can achieve alone. Marriage is that constant commitment of one’s whole self; it is a commitment of mind, body, and spirit; of loyalty and love. It is through such dedication, that a lasting devotion allows love to grow and strengthen. It is our common wish, and it is our shared prayer, that Paracel and Cate will have such faith in one another, and the confidence in themselves to nurture consistently the new life they have chosen- as husband and wife.
Today, Paracel and Cate have stopped thinking of themselves as only individuals, and instead, have begun to think of themselves as something larger, something greater. But this day is not just for them, nor is just about them.
Each of you, Cate and Paracel’s family and friends, are a vital and important part of their lives. Cate and Paracel want to recall and acknowledge this reality, and they wish to thank each of you wholeheartedly for all that you have given them over the years. They are deeply honored that you are here, and for how much you care about them, and for their happiness. Thank You!
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In particular, Cate and Paracel especially wish to thank each of their parents for the tremendous example they have set for a solid, strong, and lifelong marriage. They know it hasn’t always been easy- they realize that a good marriage requires work and a lasting commitment from both partners. It requires compromise without surrender; it needs a dedication that doesn’t waver and it requires love that gives a more unconditional support. In short, it is placing the good of the relationship above all else. It is holding on to one another through adversity, enduring during those difficult times that has made appreciation and gratitude for the good times so sincere and heartfelt.
You have taught us that a good marriage is a structure that has its solid foundation resting on an enduring love. For to love someone is essentially defined as this: To hold one another’s well being as first and foremost in your mind and heart. It is to live a life together, feeling one another’s joys and sorrows as if their were your own. When two people truly love, then each wishes that the other will become everything that he or she desires to be….
Reading: An Irish Blessing – Steven
The Wedding Vows & The Exchange of Rings:
(The minister now asks Paracel and Cate to face one another, and hold hands)

Paracel: I, Paracel, take you, Cate, to be my wife.
To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part.
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Catherine: I, Cate, take you, Paracel, to be my husband.
To have and to hold, for this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part.
Q; May I have the rings?
The circle is the symbol of the Sun, the earth, and sacred space ;
Of wholeness, unity and infinity. May these rings forever be the unbroken symbol of your love and fidelity. Love freely given has no beginning and has no end. Love has no giver or receiver, for each is the giver, and each is the receiver. May these rings remind you always of the vows you have taken here today…

Paracel: (taking Cate’s left hand… And repeats after me…
“Cate, I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and devotion.
Cate: (taking Paracel’s left hand, and repeating after me…)
Paracel, I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and devotion.”
Cate and Paracel, because you have chosen to share your lives with each other, and having promised each other your love
and devotion, and having symbolized this by the exchange of rings, Now, I am very happy to pronounce you to be husband and wife!

Paracel, you may kiss your bride!
Ladies and Gentleman, may I introduce, for the first time,
Mr. And Mrs. Le … Congratulations! Go In peace!
Reading: An Irish Blessing – Steven
May the road rise up to meet you, May the wind be always at your back,
May the suns shine warmly upon your face; May the rains fall softly on your fields, May you see your children’s children…
May you be poor in misfortune, and rich in blessings,
May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.
May the road rise up to meet you, May the wind be always at your back…
May the warm rays of the sun fall upon your home, May the hand of a friend always be near,
May green be the grass you walk on, May blue be the sky above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.

A Marriage Prayer for You is This:
That you will always remember the qualities that first attracted you to each other when you first met, and how you felt as your feelings of attraction turned into respect, admiration, and finally into love. That you will work hard to turn your feelings of love into acts of love so that nothing and no one can divide you. That you will always have kind and loving hearts that are quick to ask for forgiveness when you are wrong, as well as to forgive when your partner is wrong. That your love might grow to hear all things, believe all things, and hope for all things, and endure all things. I pray that you place your marriage in God’s hands, and that your love increases and overflows beyond anything you have yet imagined. AMEN

The Wedding Ceremony of
Scott Carpenter and Jennifer Berry
The Wigwam Resort Litchfield Park, Arizona
July 5, 1997 at 6:30 PM

Opening Words and the Ceremony:
The Reverend Peter Edward Lanzillotta, Ph.D.

Tonight we have come together to be with Scott and Jennifer as they join their lives in holy matrimony. We have come to celebrate with them the making of a very special commitment. The essence of this commitment is to bring another into one’s life as a friend, a companion, and a lover.
The commitment of marriage sometimes demands going beyond the boundaries of the self alone; it means giving up personal desires for the needs of the other, or for the good of the relationship, but maintaining a balance so that neither feels overpowered or absorbed by the other.
Marriage is a transformation from the individual to the family. It symbolizes the giving of oneself as a companion for life- someone you can trust, someone who can listen and not judge; someone who can support and respect you. Marriage is the gift of giving yourself to share dreams and disappointments, achievements and defeats. It is a growing together — the task of making a strong and secure couple of the best that each person can be. This union between Scott and Jennifer is a bold step into the future, and in giving of oneself and sharing with each other, the love between these two will grow.

Words To The Couple:
This ceremony alone will not unite you in marriage. You must do that, by your mutual desire to love each other.
This tradition is a public celebration of the deep bond of love and devotion that exists within your hearts. A good marriage is built upon a relationship of love and respect. Essentially, to love is to hold one another’s best interest, first and foremost in your hearts; to recognize one another’s interests, desires, and needs, are no less important than one’s own. It is to live life together, feeling each other’s joys as if they were your own. When two people truly love one another, each wishes that the other is able to become everything he or she desires to be. love has a length, depth, and sincerity that is unmatched by any other emotion. It cannot be measured by time or circumstances.
Now, as you make your promises to each other, may this day be the beginning of a relationship that will grow and mature with each passing year- for it will be your love that will make the latter days warmer and more wonderful than the first. Real understanding of each other’s feelings will develop fully by sharing successes, failures, and years of intimacy.
You have found that special person who is your life partner. Your relationship will have to withstand many tests, trials, and challenges, and will provide you both with a life filled with precious memories. The experiences you share become the bond that keeps love and respect strong in the relationship. Tonight is a statement of your undying hope and timeless love.

Lighting of the Family Unity Candle

Marriage Vows

” Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”
(Father stands, and says) “I Do”

Scott and Jennifer, please turn, face one another and hold hands. The hands you offer are extensions of yourselves. They link your mutual love. Cherish their touch, for you touch another’s heart and life as well.
The vows you are about to exchange serve as a verbal and public recognition of the love you have pledged to each other. it is only the words you speak today that will bond you together as one, but also the inner sense of love and commitment that those words help both of you feel within your souls.
Please repeat after me…

” I, Scott, take you, Jennifer, to be my lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, whether near or far away. I promise to love, honor, and cherish you as long as we both shall live.”

” I, Jennifer, take you, Scott, to be my lawful wedded husband, to have and to hold, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, whether near or far away. I promise to love, honor, and cherish you as long as we both shall live.”

The Exchange of Rings/Ring Prayer

The rings, please…
The circle is the symbol for the Sun, the Earth, and the universe. It is the image of wholeness, perfection, and peace. may these rings remind you always of the vows you have taken here tonight., and forever serve as a sign of your love, faith, and commitment.

Bride and groom exchange rings… and repeat…
“With this ring, I thee wed.”

Prayer of Blessing/Presentation:

Let us pray…
Dear Lord, bless the union of these two hearts and lives in the sacred bond of marriage. In the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
To the Groom: Congratulations! You may kiss your bride!
To the families: “I would now like to present Lieutenant and Mrs. Scott Carpenter.”

The Wedding Service for
Ton Silver and Jeffrey Olsen
Stillington Hall, Gloucester, Mass.
July 2, 1994 4:00 p.m.

Prelude: from the soundtrack of the movie, “Cinema Paradiso”

Processional: The Oboe Suite from the movie, “The Mission”

Opening Words/Wedding Service The Rev. Peter E. Lanzillotta

Welcome everyone… Today, we come together to witness a precious union between two people. Remember, it is through such a union we can discover the very essence of the human capacity to love, honor and respect another human being.
Ton and Jeff thank all of you for coming here today to share this celebration with them. The history you bring together for this couple, as their friends and as members of their families, defines much of who they are as individuals, and what they can become as a couple. Each of you has unselfishly given of yourselves. You have helped them to arrive here today as happy, healthy, and loving people, willing and ready to share their lives together.
With and through these intimate associations of the past, they have been given a solid foundation for a lasting marriage. From this turning point and centering ceremony of marriage, they will begin to create Their united future. May the importance of being married inspire Ton and Jeff with new energy and invigorate them throughout their lives.
Also, it is their hope that today’s celebration will initiate a renewed commitment from all of you, to pursue love more, in your daily lives, and in all your caring relationships.

Words Of Appreciation and Affirmation

At this time, Jeff and Ton would like to acknowledge their parents, Val and Jack, Elaine and Toni’s grandmother Santa Rosa…. You have given them the affection and encouragement to arrive here today in peace, ready to follow in your loving examples. You have provided them with your caring support, everlasting guidance, constant strength, and open hearted understanding. From you, they have learned of love, and for this they are forever grateful.

Statement of Affirmation
I now ask your parents, this question:
” Do you celebrate this day with them, and do you willing approve, and give your blessing to their union?
“YES” or “Yes We Do”

Words To The Couple

Ton and Jeff, the spiritual capacity to grow closer together is before you today. Honesty must precede all your endeavors, while embracing all the complexity of two human spirits. Let the independence that brought each of you here and that will soon bring you together remain an essential part in your marriage. In creating that faithfulness and fortitude that preserves your marriage, you will learn many powerful things. It will make the good times will be easy and more joyous, and will allow the tough times to weave themselves in your hearts.
These lessons will add depth, and breadth to your feelings for one another. These experiences will color your lives, and the texture it will create, increases the value of your choice to be married. Together you will design a world of life and love.

On this day, you multiply life by the power of two. You will profess your love to each other before God, family and friends. It is a day when fairy tales and reality unite.

I ask that you understand that the declaration of wedding vows is to be a goal and an ideal; promised words and deeds that become a strong, reliable cornerstone from which you will begin to build a life together.

Delivering love from its polite and romantic abstractions and by dedication, empowering your devotion throughout daily living, is what marriage is all about. Therefore, let the daily attitude with which you approach your life, create the magic and the realism you have for each other.

Of the many ways each of you could choose to define yourselves, remember that your actions of love, to and for one another will best define those qualities that are most successful in marriage. In loving, we touch the feelings and the values that are both the most human, and the most holy.

Readings: Jeff’s reading for Ton; read by Jack Olden
Toni’s reading for Jeff; read by Elaine Journey

The Wedding Vows (to be repeated by Ton and Jeff)

Minister: (flowers) Jeff, Ton, will you please hold hands, and repeat your vows after me…

“I, Jeff, take you Ton as my wife, to honor and respect throughout the entire range of my life.
I take you as my friend, to cherish and care for,
as my companion, to entrust and inspire, and as my lover to discover and desire.
I promise to share my life and my dreams openly,
and speak the truth to you in love. My resolve comes from everything I know to be me.
I love you, Ton, and vow to do just that.”

” I, Ton, take you, Jeff, as my husband; to honor and respect throughout the entire range of my life.
I take you as my friend, to cherish and care for;
as my companion, to entrust and inspire, and as my lover to discover and desire.
I promise to share my life and my dreams openly,
and speak the truth to you in love. My resolve comes from everything I know to be me.
I love you, Jeff, and vow to do just that.”

Exchange of Rings

Minister: Do you, Ton and Jeff, recognize these vows as yours? Do you carry a solemn oath in your hearts to uphold them? Do you pledge these vows before God, family and friends, and do you willingly recognize each another as husband and wife?

What tokens do you offer as symbols of your eternal love?…
“THESE RINGS”

Bride and Groom: ” Jeff, wear this ring as a symbol of my love. Let it personify and strengthen your belief
and your trust in this union”

” Ton, wear this ring as a symbol of my love.
Let it personify and strengthen your belief and trust in this union.

Closing Blessing/Prouncement

” Out of this tangled world, O God, we ask that you strengthen Ton and Jeff in their passion, perservance and peace toward each other. Let the mysteries of life provide them with an awareness of You and of their own spirituality. From this moment on, let love rule the hearts and minds of both Ton and Jeff, and may it serve to deepen their understanding and compassion for each other.
Believing that this is your free choice and shared desire, by the power of God, and in the witness of your family, friends, through the laws of the state of Massachusetts,
I most happily pronounce that you are husband and wife!

Congratulations…

“YOU MAY KISS THE BRIDE!!!

Go in peace…

The Wedding Service for
Lisa Wolford and Ash Millar
Papago Park Ramada #9
April 16, 1997 5:00 PM

Opening Words and the Ceremony:
The Reverend Peter Edward Lanzillotta, Ph.D.

Welcome, everyone! Today, we come together to witness a precious union between two people. It is through such a union that we can discover the very essence of the human capacity to love, honor, and respect another person.

Words To The Couple:

Lisa and Ash, the spiritual capacity to grow closer together is before you today. Honesty must precede all your endeavors, while embracing all the complexity of two human souls. Let the independence that brought each of you here and that will soon bring you together, remain an essential part of your marriage. In creating that faithfulness, and that fortitude that preserves and protects your marriage, you will learn many powerful things. These lessons will add depth and breath and height to your feelings for one another.
These experiences will fill the canvass of your lives, and give it both color and texture, which increases the value and the dimensions that are possible in your choice to be married. Together, you will design a world of life and love.
On this day, you will multiply your life by two. You will profess your love to each other before God, family and friends. I ask you to understand that this declaration of wedding vows serves you best as a goal and as an ideal; promised words and deeds that become a strong, reliable and trustworthy cornerstone that builds and supports your life together.

Delivering love from its polite and romantic abstractions, you empower a true sense of devotion and dedication throughout your days and years of living together , and it is that quality of caring that marriage is truly all about. Therefore, let your daily attitude, with which you approach your life, create the magic and the realism you have for each other.
Of the many ways each of you could choose to define yourselves, remember that your actions to and for one another will best define those qualities that are most successful in marriage. In loving, we touch the feelings and the values that are both the most human and the most holy.

The Wedding Vows:
Ash and Lisa, will please turn and face one another and hold hands…
and please repeat your wedding vows after me…

LISA: I , Lisa, take you, Ash, to be my wedded husband: to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and respect always. I promise you my absolute honesty, and complete devotion.

ASH: I, Ash, take you, Lisa, to be my wedded wife: to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and respect always. I promise you my absolute honesty, and complete devotion.

The Blessing and Exchange of Rings:

The Ring Prayer:

A circle is the symbol for the Sun, Earth and the universe. It is the image of wholeness, perfection and peace. May these rings be forever a symbol of your unbroken love. Love freely given has no giver and has no receiver, for each is the giver and each is the receiver. May these rings remind you always of the vows you have taken here today.

Please take these rings, and repeat after me…

“WITH THIS RING, I THEE WED, AND PLEDGE MY ETERNAL LOVE”

PRONOUNCEMENT:

Lisa and Ash have chosen to be married here today, in God’s natural light and surroundings. As we breathe in this moment of happiness, and the wonder of nature that attends it, may we hope that Ash and Lisa’s marriage will bring them lasting peace, harmony, and true heartfelt contentment.
Now, in the recognition our your vows, and by the power invested in me, I gladly pronounce, that you are husband and wife.

Congratulations! You May Kiss The Bride!!!

What Am I , Anyway? A quick guide to religiously perplexed!

July 23, 2009 - 6:41 pm 8 Comments

A Simplified (!?!) Guide To The Religiously Perplexed:
The Reverend Peter Edward Lanzillotta, Ph.D.
October 15th, 2006

Outside of the arena of politics, there are few areas of our lives more exasperating and complex to understand than all the names and labels given to the varieties of religious beliefs, outlooks and definitions.
In contemporary American social and religious circles, this confusion impacts directly on all of our connections and relationships, because it addresses how we define, discuss, apply and practice our religious convictions.
It could be said that we, as human beings, like to place the ideas, attitudes, and opinions of others in neat categories and clear boxes. That there is this universal human tendency to confine ideas to spaces that will allow us to appraise or to judge other people’s ideas, behaviors, and actions according to our own box systems- our own categories, beliefs, definitions and meanings. This need to control or to confine, of course, can lead to intolerance, and to the maintenance of religious prejudice around the world.
However, since nothing need stay the same, and one of the few constants we have in our lives is change, there is always room and an ongoing opportunity to examine how we use words religiously. Since we, as religious liberals, promote the use of more broad and inclusive language and wide belief systems among our members, we know that labels that once might have strictly applied, nor longer are seen to be valid or accurate. We also recognize how truly detrimental, how hurtful certain labels are and have been, so we ask our members to develop a respectful listening- As an essential part of being together, as a tolerant, religious community, and as a congregation that values having both clarity and compassion.

However, before I begin an exploration of religious terminology, its important to note a few things about how our society uses certain words… Such as that there is no absolute consistency or definitive overlap between religious terms and political ones. You can be a political conservative and still be a religious liberal; you can be a religious conservative and still be a political liberal- it all depends on where the individual draws their connecting and intersecting lines….
When talking about religion, as well as politics, many of us can experience being blown up by unforgiving definitions as we try to tread carefully across the minefields of meaning, trying to avoid the snappy sound bites of Mass Media or refuse to continue to bash or blow up and exploit words and ideas we no longer honestly use or know as being accurate for us.
As I understand it, religion, faith, spirituality and the words associated with them, cannot be neatly packaged. That is because our ideals go right to the core of our personal identities; to the source of our religious and moral convictions, and to the impulse and feeling behind any and every ethical action. Such powerful words, and such potent feelings that they can muster, cannot be neatly reduced, packaged, or placed into any meaningful design without much soul-work: that is, without involving oneself in a careful, considerate lifelong reflection, an ongoing reassessment.
So, to begin my preparation for this sermon presentation, (or this fool’s errand or this noble endeavor), this daunting project of providing religious definitions for liberals, I will start by appealing to a variety of sources: I have reread Moses Maimonenes- the great Jewish Rabbi who wrote the famous 12th Century Guide To The Perplexed, reviewed a few of my standard theological dictionaries, and I have consulted one of our better known caustic curmudgeons, the witty atheist and Unitarian, Ambrose Bierce. Among his diatribes, jabs, and contentions, some of his definitions that I have included come from his Devil’s Dictionary, would delight the more literary and skeptical among us. As a balance to Birece, I also reviewed our UU ARE curriculum on religious beliefs entitled
“A Catechism for Unitarian-Universalists” by Tony Larson. Lastly, have read the modern author, Kathleen Norris’s book, Amazing Grace- supplying some literary and contemporary Christian definitions. Within all that, and in good U-U form, after reading and trying to digest it all, I will present my version of some core religious words as they have filtered through my own life experiences
Admittedly, these definitions will not necessarily inspire or even agree in the slightest with how you might or how you would render the meanings they might potentially hold…
That’s both the challenge and the invitation… to listen to my meager attempts, and then for each of you to nobly attempt your own definitions as a part of your spiritual explorations in the quest for the maturation of meaning and understanding….
So, here goes… Among the words I have chosen as key or core words for U-Us are the following: God; Self/Soul; Truth; Reality; Sin/Vice; Salvation; Jesus; Faith and Belief; Religion; Spirit/Spirituality; Unitarian; Universalist; Church/Community; Grace; Prayer; Repentance/Forgiveness; Devil/Evil/AntiChrist; Freedom/Liberty and License; Wisdom and Knowledge; Ethics and Righteousness… Heaven & Hell; Kingdom of God; Eschatology; Rapture, Millennialism and if there is any time left over, I will try to define any other words you might want me to consider….
Lets start with the most inclusive and troublesome one, God….

Kknowing that as the Jewish teachers have said, “[that God is a mirror, and each person looking into the mirror can see something quite different}, and, as Thoreau once put it, [Whatever is of greatest importance, worth, or value has a sense of sacredness for you… for you, that thing or idea is your God]” It is from this inclusive basis that I will attempt to define God from the various outlooks found within our U-U churches… (not necessarily conforming to any orthodoxy!)

God: The Supreme unknowable mystery- the unfathomable Reality; The Ultimate Concern; The Force; The Prime Mover; The Timeless Cause, The Love/Intelligence, and other such global terms…
For the liberal Atheist: It is the Being that does not exist– and that is a fact that they are assured of, and a reality that defies their life experience or understanding so far… It is said that an atheist is someone who actively pursues the subject of God to more conclusively reject those dogmatic or traditional claims; that she or he is closer to the Universal spirit or source of wisdom and divinity than are the majority of people who are content with trite answers, conventional expectations, and superficial regard for religion– and at the core of it, an atheist refuses to be a tasteless hypocrite or take their portion of religious life as half-baked! As Bierce puts it; Religion or belief in God: “It is the daughter of Hope and Fear explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.”
For the liberal Agnostic: According to French wit, Rabelais, “God is the Great Perhaps…” whose existence is neither a mere trifle nor is it so certain as to be assuredly consequential. The agnostic is someone who does not yet know, who questions without surrendering, and is someone who is always probing, exploring, yet rarely settling… Instead, they choose an approach to God that is similar to Rilke’s advice to the young poet, they chose to “to live in their questions,” and allow the questions of life, to work out their answers with you- They approach such religious questions with a holy skepticism- an outlook that suspends making quick judgments or rash conclusions, while remaining open to further possibilities for greater awareness and understanding.

For the liberal Theist: Classically, Theism states that God is the Supreme Being, most often conventionally accepted as male in character, tone, and temperament, that stands outside the human arena called the experience of this world. God for the Theist is transcendent, majestic, powerful and yet can act capriciously, or as the old Methodist Hymn puts it “God moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform”.
When this God does decide to act, this direct divine involvement with humanity can be jealous or compassionate, and can directly enter into human history in ways that humans have called grace, awe, wonder, providence, crises, fate, destiny, atonement, miracles, and on the other side, even disasters…. More recently, there is the androgyny of God that is being increasingly affirmed, the inclusive and gracious qualities of feminine God that are being maintained, and that God and Nature, ethics and actions are all a part of one’s understanding and application of one’s liberal faith…
For the liberal Christian: Almost all of the above concerning the Theist, but by choice, taking a more restrictive preference; they affirm their personal or greater faith or emphasis on life of the human born and teaching savior, Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, as being their preferred guide. That Jesus was a divinely inspired man who became humanity’s best example of how to live an inspired or divine life.

Through his example, God now has a human face, a human body and an earthly dimension. Without getting into great theological details and creedal assertions, the U-U Christian choose to follow Jesus down an open-ended, non dogmatic path. Also, there is the Christian version of Spirit that gave birth to the Western idea and ideal of church. Church, for Christians, maintains the story of the community- those legends/myths/metaphors and meaning concerning Jesus and remembers those teachings as they relate to the progression and application of those beliefs about him in the world today.

The next two categories are modifiers, or further refinements of these above groups. These two orientations can be found in any or all of the previous groups… These two dimensions are the Mystical and the Prophetic… So we can theoretically have a mystical agnostic, or a prophetic Pagan, etc., and so on…
For the liberal Mystic: Someone who may or may not be allied with Christianity, or even Western Theism in any way. Here the emphasis is on the Spirit, widely defined is being the experience of God, or whatever is deemed to be holy, what is transcendent, and extraordinary. This experience of the sacred or the holy is central to one’s understanding of themselves, God, Nature, life. This is part of a perennial theology- and links itself to Indigenous traditions that range from the Native American, the Aboriginal to the Wiccan and the Pagan.
There are many among us who see and who seek the transcendent wonder and awe, that sense of the sacred that is hidden then is revealed or found in the ordinary. He/She sees God as the intimate guide from within or as a presence or force that can be considered holy as being connected to the Ultimate. Often, we find U-U mystics to be our consummate nature lovers; Those among us who find the beauty, wonder and inspiration of nature to be their path to sacred experience. (Panentheism)
Additionally, for those who are mystically inclined, there is a more overt and gracious embodiment of the female and the male qualities and energies within the whole mystery of life- a mystery and a majesty that is CO-created and that goes beyond what piety, theology, or rationality creates or tries to constrict, explain, or contain. As Emerson put it, “We dare not try to fence the Spirit,” For the Mystic, it is the Spiritual that is primary; that which serves to uplift, inspire, unify, create, redeem and beautify from its essence and its impulses.

Along with the mystical, and included within it, there is the Prophetic dimension- the concern for the world, for ecology and for others, that impels our actions from out of our core ethical beliefs and experiences. For the prophetic among us, even those unsure of how or in what way they would try to define the ultimately unde finable- God can be found at the extension of our hearts and at the tips of our fingers as we act in our world for justice, equality and dignity; when we act kindly, unselfishly, exclude none, and actively practice compassion.

Phew… if that is the first word, we all better pack a long lunch or better yet, tell people to leave the lights on for us, it will be a long time before I am through ….
Seriously, I hope that my admittedly incomplete definitions, along with their theological and literary origins, will assist you to appraise and better define your thoughts and words. As I see it, it is up to every person to seek clarity in their ideas and in their commitments- to find the words that best serve or that best approximate how they truly feel and think about a wide variety of religious topics and the spectrum of spiritual beliefs.
By providing each other with a working definition of who and what a person is, who and what our community strives to become, the process of listening, re-languaging and then finding the best words possible that describe our community will serve to accelerate the accomplishment of future goals, and begin to clarify how the community choose to publish and promote itself – how it will be publicly known.
Simply this: Language contains power, possibilities and potentials. So I say in closing, May all your dictionaries, theosauri and encyclopedias never be the same! So Be It!

Opening Words:
From James Luther Adams The Prophet hood of All Believers
[There are 5 tenets of a liberal faith…
1) The first is our ultimate dependence for being and freedom is upon a creative power not of our own making…
Our ultimate faith is not in ourselves.
2) A free person’s faith is in a sustaining, transforming reality… And in our cooperative efforts for the common good.
3) The achievement of freedom in community requires the power of organization and the organization of power. It is a shaping power, that works through people to share their community towards justice and love.
4) It is a community that abandons any reliance on the unreliable; it is a community in which the living spirit of faith tries to create and mold life giving, life transforming beliefs…
5) No mere return to religion… will give us vision …
An unexamined faith is not worth having…]”

Closing words:
From The Rev. Marni Polite Harmony of the Orlando church:
… The God who calls me is not so much a god of tradition, or of laws, contracts or a god of rhetoric, but rather a god of essence and presence. This God… lives right at the heart of all that is most alive in our human experience.
How do you prove God? How do you prove Love?…
One feels God… And then one knows… AMEN

Pastoral Reflection:
As I will offer a variety of definitions of God this morning, I was looking through the various writings available to me and found this mystical and prophetic writing in the UU Catechism that I will share with you… It needs no other words than it is from The Rev. Edward Frost, formerly of the Atlanta Church:

What is God?

We have heard that God is all goodness;
All sweetness and light and joy in the morning.

But God is the crises we do not hear.
The depth of hell that the other suffers.
The darkness and confusion of the permanent night.

God may be the Chaos- missed in our neatness and order–
Who shuns the glistening temple to walk in the gray
Repositories of twisted and divided souls.

God is the one who cries, “Know me!”
Through the mouths of those we choose not to know.

We have heard that God is love.
But God is the demand to love; a demand unheeded thus a God undiscovered.

Press through the grown-over path to another’s aloneness
And there, with the other,
The pain and the bearer of pain
Is God.

10/2006
More definitions follow, but cannot be included in this particular sermon because of time considerations….

9 or 1
Part II

Next, let’s get into Sin and/or Vice… Originally, the word for sin in the Hebrew was associated with having a bad aim or purpose for one’s life- it was literally “Missing the mark” or forgetting that it is God, Truth; Love and other noble virtues that are the center- the goal or the bull’s eye for us as human beings. there is another sidelight to this answer, since it is the one most of you already know…
it ties into my studies in feminism, and early origins of patriarchal religions. It goes like this: Sin was the name of an Assyrian Moon Goddess- a powerful feminine force ruling over the night- Night being the actual darkness and also the metaphor for the human unconscious and all of its troublesome and illicit, all of its transformative and sacred drives, impulses and needs… From that perspective, you can see how the early Hebrews who were extolling the might and right of the male storm God, Yahweh as being the one and only supreme God, disapproved of the fact that Sin was such a rival influence- therefore, she would have to be demonized and subjugated– in that way, sin became that which God overcomes, and that it is the negative parts of us humans, which developed into theological doctrines about how awful & evil sin is …
To sin boldly- one of my other sermons- is to understand, with compassion, that we are all unfinished, growing and learning creatures; that in order to gain wisdom we cannot be afraid of making mistakes… sinning… in order to grow in the recognition of what strengths- or classically speaking, what virtues we need to practice to prevent the repetition of the more harmful practices that could impact us and our world more negatively… Sin is simply trying valiantly but missing the mark and vice is the institutionalization or categorization of those trends, drives, and tendencies so labeled by the philosophers, ethicists and theologians of the world.
As old theology states, “we are all sinners…” and yes, I agree, from my nontraditional but inclusive understanding, we are all unfinished works in progress; each of us is in need of further learning, humility, compassion, caring, instruction. It is our aspirations to improve, to learn, to redeem and to discover any other ameliorating influence for good, that makes us work for justice, equality, dignity and respect together.

On to Salvation … presumably the outcome of a life that successfully copes, learns and thereby avoids sin…
Salvation is not one of great concerns for U-U’s, since most of us have already rejected the conventional doctrines of Heaven and Hell– two more concepts for my list…
Salvation, originally, meant to be free of any ills or negative feelings; it was organic and visceral sign of grace or God’s favor to be well- healthy; whole… That, by the way, does not mean problem-free, without challenges, or even cured.
It was closer to being at peace, living with acceptance, or seeing certain kinds of illness as an opportunity or as a gift through which you could learn of your shortcomings, and reach for greater understanding of God more fully or completely in your life…
Salvation refers to a sense of wholeness and being at peace- only as the theologians and the church separated the body from the mind, the mind from the heart, and the body from the soul, did the exclusive emphasis on morals and conduct become the concern for salvation and the rationale for judgment, condemnation, and damnation. Today, we see a healthy, positive trend in alternative and complimentary medicine toward the reunification of body and soul, of wholeness with health.
Next is the idea of Faith or Belief… One’s degree or capacity for Faith is simply where one has learned to place one’s trust and the degree that one relies on, depends on, and accepts that faith or trust. Trust in what has been said, read, lived or experienced is faith in what you consider to be wise and worthwhile. Whether it is your faith in God or science; your faith in yourself or your government, each has its degrees, depths and dimensions that assist you in making choices, or building a belief system of one’s own. …

Belief… to believe is by its original Greek definitions, is what one commits themselves to, without doubt or reservation- with all one’s heart… Beliefs create the intentions behind our actions and our ideals.
When we believe in something or someone we have faith in them.. We give that idea or person a depth and a degree of meaning and value for us. Our faith, trust and beliefs become our core concerns, what we cherish, what we love, and what we fear… Beliefs are those ideas and impulses that promote value and sustain meaning and purpose for us.
These above concerns and considerations can be assembled into various and complex belief systems about God, reality, truth, sin, salvation etc. that we then call religion….
Religion, in its definition comes from the Latin, religiare- that is, to bind and to unify. To bind: Well, most come-outers from other religions who find U-Uism each have their history of how the religion they were brought up with held them back, held them down, restricted or bound them. This quality of religion was used or enforced as a way to protect wandering people from unsavory ideas and unhealthy actions. Religion bound people to was considered the good, the right, and the true… all other competing ideas, ideals and activities were held suspect, or shunned. And, if truth be told, heretical ideas, independent notions, dissenting ideals have always been the enemy of organized religion and its orthodoxies.
Religion, however, also serves to unify; to promote a centrality, a common mind set, a communal voice, and a shared heart from which the caring, support, and inspiration of a religion can be felt and where its people can feel affirmed and nurtured. If a religion fails to unify, bring its people and its members closer, fails to promote the sustained sense of sister and brotherhood, then the heart and the vitality of the religion dies out, and a we are left with the brittle bones of rules and conventions and the decaying flesh of tradition that is unconnected to either the people or the community it once enlivened.

When a religion is vital- a church truly happens and a community has its authenticity, vision, mission and purpose clear available, and its participation in it is lasting and sincere.
Which brings me to the next, and last word, Church or Community… Some within our liberal congregations prefer community, since church, for them, is too exclusively a Christian word, one that might alienate or separate people from participation, if their background was not Christian…
The church or community is the name given to that group of people who have intentionally gathered to celebrate, sustain, and affirm a commonly held credo or faith statement- be it a formal theological doctrine, a covenant, or a statement of principles that each member willingly adheres to and promotes in their lives. Those ideals and principles are used as a guide for all their interactions inside the community as they seek to model or demonstrate their efficacy the larger, outside world. A church has to prove its value and importance to its members; its existence depends on how important an ideal it is for each of them. While money, prestige, and other external factors do influence the growth and well-being of the institution called church, the living vital reality called church is sustained by the mutual affection and aspiration held by its members and associates.

Church is the repository of a community’s hopes and dreams- it is where the ideals taken on meaning and are given direction and application to life and to the greater society and world in which those members live.
From the church, its people learn how best to survive hardships and how they can thrive in opportunities; from a church, the people with a vision or a dream lead, and those with the courage follow; each sharing in the building of a greater common goal of promoting and preserving cherished values and sacred meaning in their personal and family lives over time, over circumstance, over it all…
enough for part 1…. someday part 2…

No More Witch Hunts! The Case for Religious Tolerance

July 23, 2009 - 6:36 pm 23 Comments

No More Witch Trials- Looking at Religious Intolerance
The Unitarian- Universalist Church of Minnetonka
October 30, 2005
The Reverend Peter Edward Lanzillotta, Ph.D.

This month, I have focused on the other Western religions that share our modern civilization with us… And I would be remiss if I did not mention- especially as Halloween nears- that there is another great tradition… Namely indigenous European spirituality that has come to the New World- namely, Paganism, Wicca, or the Earth-centered religions in all of their various forms. As U-Us, we are one of the few religious groups that has intentionally made room for Pagans… And I feel that we are the richer for it!
While the debate, within U-U circles concerned with inclusiveness still roils over the inclusion of a ritual based, non-rational approach, these detractors are becoming a minority since this inclusion was first made some 20 years ago…. The original Principles and Purposes statement was enlarged to include Earth-centered religions…. And by easy implication, this would extend itself to welcoming all forms of indigenous wisdom traditions; from the Native Americans to the Aboriginal on any continent.
With such broad inclusiveness always comes questioning and uncertainty. As religious liberals, we should be comfortable with doubt, with the willingness to explore new ideas, beliefs and practices, and even if they do not speak to us personally, become willing advocates for those among us who do find these ideas and practices to be inspiring and worthwhile.
Today, I would like to examine the roots of religious prejudice, and I have selected this day because of the historical realities that we, in this country, have witnessed and have tragically perpetuated among us.
For you see, when Halloween rolls around, our culture goes into its trick or treat mentality…. .
2 We uncritically agree with historical stereotypes of women as witches, and it is from that awful association, that the first recorded trials and punishment of women occurred when this country when we were in our uninformed, unenlightened infancy, some 300 years ago….
A Quick Colonial Quiz… Q: How many men were condemned after being accused of witchcraft and sorcery? A: None! Why. Its simple…
As you all have known since Sunday school, all the evils of the world come to us by way of women; women are the Devil’s playground, Lucifer’s consorts, Satan’s concubines… Remember, the disease of hysteria comes from the Greek root word for womb… Because women are so often hysterical!
Feminist theology or Paganism anyone? Why such beliefs are enough to turn any thinking and caring person into a U-Uist!
With all our sophistication, with our burgeoning, ever present media outlets, to realize that we have made so little progress in inclusiveness, tolerance and acceptance of one another baffles and disheartens me. Prejudice, intolerance, and the persecution of differences in worship and belief still fill our news stories, and can be seen as a contributing factor to group violence and cultural harassment nationwide.
Yet, could we expect otherwise? The despicable history of witch hunts and hate crimes is pre-Biblical, almost Neolithic! Some anthropologists claim that drawing differences between people, approving of only one skin color, one way of belief, etc., and this was a necessary step in building families and clans of affinity, and so, over time, the societal rules for inclusion and exclusion were formed and enforced to build an ethnic or religious identity.
From the Creeds to the Crusades, from Salem to Selma, we have seen various and vile expressions of prejudice be given their voice, their values, and their violence. We, as humans have born witness to the effects that these pernicious motives, and we know that these events have been fueled by fear and further abetted by erroneous theology.
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For me, there is no worse light, nor deeper shadow than when one’s faith has been used to justify acts of vengeance, exclusion and acrimony. There have been “Burning Times ” in our collective history when these attitudes ascended to popularity or when people of conscience stood by passively and allowed venom to become accepted and affiliated with governmental and economic systems of power. What seems to encourage this willingness to be passive or give a tacit approval is the appeal to the status quo, and such coercion remains a powerful one today; there is a motive or drive within the human heart that declares that I want to be safe from others, safe from strangers, and away from those who are different from me…. So much so that we will willing shelve our discernment, and mothball our compassion in order to achieve conformity and obedience, and thereby punish the individual conscience and the organized need for dissent that sounds the alarm!
What I have perceived recently in our national debate, and in our cultural consciousness, is there appears to be a significant rise in a lack of acceptance… An increasing, and I would say, an insidious creeping justification for exclusion and for virulent prejudice among us….
Being of a generous and accepting nature, I am willing to say that some of those feelings are marked by a simple and uninformed xenophobia- the fear of the stranger, or anything different from what you are used to or that makes you comfortable. This feeling is somewhat understandable.. .
In a more homogenized world like the Midwest had been for so many years, the influx of strangers such as the Mung, and Somalis, and others from distinctly different cultures and races, that can make the more traditional Scandanavian-American outlook on life feel a little queasy… And, if all it amounted to was a little awkwardness, and that it does correct itself with a lesson in cultural openness. If this acceptance is accompanied by a period of halting welcome, and then an awkward adjustment that moves towards a more full acceptance, then its just a simple case of human process/ progress.
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However, you and I know that the world today is far from safe, or free from the more adamant expressions of exclusion… While it is relatively safe to assume today that we have outgrown the religious fervor that surrounded the Colonial witch trials, I can’t help but wonder if the culture has changed all that much, or is it that the targets for hate and prejudice have changed?
I also have to wonder if the general rise in rudeness, and the acceptance of crudeness, together with the decline of civility and courtesy signals a greater lack of societal respect… Personally, it seems to me that it sows the seeds that encourages intolerance, and endangers the process by which we can work for greater dignity and worth for everyone….

Witch hunts of every kind, then and now, are fear-elicted responses, built on uninformed, rehearsed prejudices. They are, for the most part, irrational, and emotionally driven responses to perceived outside threats. They manifest in the desire to find convenient scapegoats, and to identify culpable targets for slander and derision, hated and violence.
From the latest research based in the Southern Poverty and Law Center, who acts as a national watchdog for hate groups , I have a disturbing report to share with you this morning… In this state, once known for its progressive politics, in the last two years, seven new hate groups have sprung up and are actively spreading their vile literature and hateful speech across the state… 5 in the Twin Cities! 5 Neo-Nazi, 2 White Supremacists…)
Some of the rationale that tries to explain the appearance of new hate groups and others who enthusiastically are practicing religious, racial or homophobic intolerance, stems from various occurrences…
First, they are the results of feeling disenfranchised from The American Dream, and the desire to regain access to this elusive prize. This dream never, in fact, existed, much like Horatio Alger myth, yet it was given to us as an illusionary false hope, and reinforced by the myth of individualism….
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Such beliefs erroneously assert that everyone is born culturally equal, and therefore it up to each person to overcome obstacles such as poverty and illiteracy and then succeed for and by themselves!
As a counterpoint to this , I feel that it is worthwhile to frequently recall the words of Mark Twain: When speaking about the need for social change in our religious and cultural attitudes, he was reported to have remarked, ” Loyalty to any petrified opinions has yet to break the chains or free any souls”
In order to be an effective deterrent to hate and intolerance, we have to further our understanding of how our culture condones the practice of social ostracization, and just how it is that we marginalize others in our society. The obvious and the easiest targets of this exclusionary practice are those who are already on the fringes, and who are struggling for acceptance. Each of us can make a quick list: the sick, the uneducated; the immigrant, the stranger, the drug-dependent; the gay or lesbian, the homeless, the disenfranchised in any or in all these ways…. The arrogance that perpetuates this inequality is incredible and incredulous for me… Yet, each of us here can attest to the results of recent governmental and economic decisions that cut spending on food, medicine and housing , etc. That make these realities among us continue to fester and multiply….
For me, what disturbs me most is the growing specter of religious fascism- those extreme patterns of persecution that are effectively concealed under the banner of God and Country. For me, it is one of the greatest blasphemies! While our elected officials seem to garner great delight in reminding us about the value of freedom, the price of our liberty, and giving frequent lip service to our national security and those historical ideals about being “The land of the free and the home of the brave”, I conclude that far too little attention and resources are going into making this ideal into a living, achievable reality.
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As I see it, our national priorities are doing more to incarcerate than liberate, to imprison us rather than to free us…. Only an deep and profound ethical challenge that speaks truth to power will ever suffice; ever be sufficient to alter the course of our cultural history.
You see, because of the accumulated pressure- economic and political- to be safe from harm, as if anyone ever could be secure when the world is in flames, and the admission that our society is suffering traumatically from multiple fractures of trust, support, adequate housing, meaningful work, and the list goes on…. The onus of having to be normal, to be acceptable, to be free from criticism, or to play it safe so dominates our societal consciousness today we have ethically withdrawn from raising our voices, speaking of such injustices! As a result, I would say, borrowing from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, [“At the expense of our ethical conscience, and spiritual convictions, it makes cultural cowards of us all’]

Witch hunts have affected me personally… and I am sure that others among us can attest to their cruel effects, and the lasting scars of their inhumanity… Rather than dwell on their lasting effects, I feel that each person has to be willing to first ask themselves, and then inquire as a community, how is it that we can join together to express our U-U motives and values…. We first ask ourselves: Do our ethical and religious values truly inform our daily choices? The we can ask each other: What else can we do as a church, to counter those social trends that exclude or that encourage prejudice and intolerance?
To your community’s credit, you are, to my knowledge, the only church in this area that openly affirms gay and lesbian individuals and couples, and for that you have earned and can take a measure of satisfaction….

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Today, with an eye towards your future, I ask: What would be your next steps? How would you shape your future to become an effective social witness in the Western Metro region? Where will you be in the fight against intolerance in say, 2008, when we next elect the next President?
Given that causes, issues, and concerns never cease, nor does the need to take a stand against witch hunts of every kind , I would charge you this day, to begin to make your vision clear and to make your mission a noble one that challenges this community to be a strong and resilient church- One that is willing to combat religious mediocrity, benign but well meaning neglect, cultural bias, preferential treatment, ethical convenience, and other weapons of the prejudicial status quo….
We live in a fragile world, a world filled with inequities, and cruelties. Among the most imperative reasons a church like ours needs to thrive is to be able to offer sanctuary and solace to those whose lives have been tainted by hate, tormented by injustice. We, among even the more progressive and liberally minded churches have, as our unique theological mandate, to instill a greater, larger and more constant sense of self worth and essential dignity, and that despite our personal differences in religious beliefs, we would work together to provide others with a place for healing, hope, and acceptance.
Today, in remembering the witch trials, we can ring the bell, we can draw the line, we can make the shift in our personal consciousness and in our collective purpose and mission, to put reduce prejudice whenever and wherever we find it….
All great and lasting movements of reform and social change started within a small, determined, and dedicated group of caring people….
May this church be listed among them! SO BE IT!

(Brief comment on Rosa Parks…MLK jr’s hymn… The Movie, Crash
The cover picture of Arthur Miller and the Hollywood Blacklist, and the movie, Good Night and Good Luck

Pastoral Reflection: On Fearing differences

Unitarian politician and diplomat Adali Stevenson was one of the few
clear voices during the McCarthy era of national witch-hunting. He expressed himself to his home church, and to our Unitarian-Universalist Association , and to the world in this way:
[“I think that one of our most important tasks as Unitarian-Universalists is to convince ourselves, and to proclaim to others, that there is no fear in differences; that differences in creed, color, or social convictions are among the healthiest, most invigorating human characteristics, without which, life could become lifeless”
Instead of allowing for, even celebrating our differences as if there were a valid hierarchy between them, we can admit that no assertion of the need to exclude others will preserve our balance or maintain a brittle, and shallow safety in an ever changing, more interconnected world.
The fact that no one can shelter or protect us from some kind of criticism or prejudice around us is not something we should mourn, but a reality we need to learn from and accept.
The only true sense that frees any of us from prejudice is a deeper and greater understanding that we human beings are all the same, connected by a universal love; whether that love is expressed as coming from God or simply shared as a universal brother and sisterhood, we can claim it as a love that searches the heart, seeks not after its own, but lives, grows, and expresses itself best according to universal and inclusive truths:
As a patient, accepting, tolerant, and extravagant love.

However, we do need to remember that this kind of love is “no respected of egotism” but its effects urge us to break down any arbitrary barriers or cultural learning that tries to divide or separate us.

In an attempt to create a prayer that express this, I would say:

” Holy One, known to us in both our deepest fears, as well as found in our deepest levels of knowing and loving,
We ask for a calmness and clarity of mind, an open and courageous heart. We affirm that we have been given a resilient strength of will that can step up, and that can work to challenge hate, and can exert itself to break the shackles of prejudice wherever we find it.
We, ask this, Spirit of Life, as we seek to forge friendships, build community and establish the vision of a future church that will be ever more welcoming, and that becomes a haven, a house, and a helping hand where equality and caring will be offered to all. AMEN; SO BE IT; Blessed Be

Opening Words for Chalice Lighting:

One of the founders of American Universalism, Hosea Ballou, taught us this:

If we can agree in love, then there is no disagreement that can do us any injury…. But if we do not, then no agreement can do us much good….

Closing words for putting out the chalice flame:

Devocation: ” whether we name it God, Goddess, Spirit or something else, its truth lies in that it is not something outside of the world- like some kind of remote judge…
It is a force that manifests in nature, that lives within each of us, and will be reflected clearly among us, in the community and in the culture we create…”

Starhawk “Truth or Dare”