Monday, September 22, 2014

50th Wedding Anniversary Litany

Note: It was my great honor and privilege to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my parents and aunt and uncle this summer, at a special worship service and renewal of wedding vows. In putting together the service, I followed the Lutheran Service Book Agenda order  for Anniversary or Affirmation of Holy Matrimony. This volume is available at CPH.org

The following is a Scriptural Litany (responsive reading) that I assembled, to celebrate the gift of marriage and the blessings that God has given through their marriages. Since this was a gathering of three generations, I wanted to help us to think about passing that legacy of longevity and faithfulness in marriage down to the next generation. The Litany therefore has the following teaching elements from the Bible: God's purposes in creating marriage and the blessings He intended it to give; the importance of faith in house and home, and the blessing of godly children; God's call to the older generations to pass on the faith to future generations; a confession of our sin and failings to be faithful and obedient to God; and the blessings of finding a godly spouse. The inspiration for this litany came from an excellent suggestion by my sister, which leads to the closing passages from Proverbs 31, where the gathered children and husbands enacted the words about the children rising to call her (the mother of honor) blessed, and concluded with our fathers speaking a word of praise to their wives as well. It was very special to be able to live out those words of Proverbs 31, and in a small way express our appreciation for what our parents have done.

If you are celebrating an anniversary for your parents, I am posting this for anyone's consideration and use. There are certainly many more Bible passages that come to mind, like Ephesians 5, and how Christ is at the center of a Christian marriage. These and other passages could be used to enlarge upon these themes of marriage--though if you use the renewal of vows from the Lutheran Service Book, some of those themes are wrapped up in the prayers, or could feature in a homily. If you are planning an anniversary celebration, God's blessings to your family, and Happy Anniversary!


A Litany of Celebration of 50 years of Marriage

 Men: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them.

Women: And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.                                                                       (Genesis 1:27-28)

Women: Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him…” So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

Men: Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

All: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.                                                               (Genesis 2:18, 21-24)
 

Pastor/Leader: Marriage was one of God’s highest and best blessings to Adam and Eve before their fall into sin. They were made in the image of God. They would be blessed with fruitfulness in childbearing, and were to rule over the earth. They were perfectly matched companions and found in one another a profound unity that would be the basis for forming a new family for thousands of generations afterward. The two would become one flesh. Family and home bring many blessings, but that home is most greatly blessed that is built on the Lord.

Men: Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.

Women: Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Men: Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame!    (Psalm 127, excerpts)

Women: Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.

Men: Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. May you see your children’s children!                                                                                            (Psalm 128, excerpts)
 
Grandparents: Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! [God] established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.                                (Psalm 78:1-8, excerpts)

 All: Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness. Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.. Let us thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! We will not hide them from our children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done! Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord. (Psalm 106:6-8; 107:8, 43; 78:4)

Pastor/Leader: Scripture also reminds us of the great blessing to find a godly spouse. One who fears the Lord. (following are excerpts of Proverbs 31)

Men: An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.

Women: The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.

Men: Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

 All: Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

 (At this time all the children and grandchildren stand, and those who wish to speak a short blessing or thanksgiving upon our mothers or parents can do so. When those who speak are finished, the Grandfathers will continue…)

Grandfathers: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

(At this time the grandfather(s)will speak some words of praise to their wives)

 

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