Outline for the wedding service of Karl Clemens and Nicholas Burger.




Entrance (procession)


P:            The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

All:            And also with you.

P:            Friends, we are gathered here today in the presence of God and of one another to share together to bless the public commitment of Karl Clemens and Nicholas Burger to a lifelong covenant of fidelity and mutuality. The bond of marriage was given by God who created us to be in covenant and community. We acknowledge the reality of human failure; yet we affirm the joy and freedom of lifelong union.  In the assurance of God’s promise to be with us, let us open our hearts in faithfulness and in hope.

The Declarations (Statement of Intent)

P:            Karl Clemens and Nicholas Burger , you have made it known that you wish to be  joined together in marriage.  If either of you, or anyone here present, can show just cause why you may not lawfully be married, now is the time to declare it.

P:            Karl Clemens and Nicholas Burger , you have made it known that you wish to have  your marriage blessed and honoured according to the rites and customs of this gathered community.   Before God and before these witnesses, do you freely confirm that you have come here to give yourselves to each other in marriage and will you honour and love each other for the rest of your life?

Karl Clemens and Nicholas Burger :  We will, with God’s help.

P:    Will you support one another in love so that you may both grow into maturity and wisdom?

Karl Clemens and Nicholas Burger:   We will, with God’s help.

P:            Will you do all in your power to make your life together a witness to love in the world?

Karl Clemens and Nicholas Burger :  We will, with God’s help.

P:            You, the friends and family of Karl Clemens and Nicholas Burger are witnesses to this marriage.  Will you support Karl Clemens and Nicholas Burger in the promises they have made?

All:            We do.

P:            Will you celebrate the goodness of God’s grace evident in their lives?

All:            We will.

P:            Will you stand by them, encourage, guide and pray for them in times of trouble and distress and join with them in times of joy and celebration?

All:            We will.

P:            Do you give them your blessings?

All:            We do.


P:            O Lord our God, who didst grant us all things needed for salvation and didst command us to love one another and to  forgive one another our failings, do Thou now, Ruler, Lord, lover of good and of humankind, bless these thy servants  Karl Clemens and Nicholas Burger , who love each other with a love of the  spirit and have into thy holy church to blessed by Thee.  Grant them unashamed fidelity, true love, and as Thou gavest to thy holy disciples and apostles thy peace and love, grant to them also these, Christ our Lord, bestowing on them all things needed for salvation and eternal live.

All:            Amen.


“Gift from The Sea”

In the years together one recognises the truth of Saint-Exupery’s line “Love does not consist in gazing at  each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction”.  A good relationship has a pattern like a dance built on some of the same rules.  The partners do not need to  hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but swift and free, like a  country dance of Mozart’s.  To touch heavily would be to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to  check the endless beauty of its unfolding.  There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging  arm, the heavy hand; only the barest touch in passing.  Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to  back – it does not matter which, because they know they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating  a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it.

When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to  moment.  It is an impossibility.  And yet this is exactly what most of us demand.  We have so little faith in  the ebb and flow of life, of love, or relationships.  We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb.   We are afraid it will never return.  We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only  continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are  free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

Ann Morrow Lindbergh



May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding.

May you always need one another – not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete; the valley does not make the mountain less, but more; and the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you.

May you need one another, but not out of weakness.

May you want one another, but not out of lack.

May you entice one another, but not compel one another.

May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another.

May you succeed in all important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces.

May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!”

and take no notice of small faults.

If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back.

May you enter into the mystery which is the awareness of one another’s presence – no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities.

May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy.

May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.

~ James Dillet Freeman ~


John 2:1-11 (English-NIV)

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.

When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

“Dear woman, why do you  involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants,  “Do whatever he tells you.”

Nearby stood six stone water  jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from  twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants,  “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet  tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

This, the first of his miraculous  signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.




This is a liminal moment, a time when all things are possible, when the future becomes shaped by the choices and experiences of the moment.  It is a dangerous moment, an awesome moment, a terrifying moment, a hopeful moment, a joyous moment.   We are present when a new life, a new relationship, is birthed.  We are present to celebrate the marriage of Karl Clemens and Nicholas Burger.

In the faith community I am a part of the role of clergy in a marriage is that of a formal witness—we confirm that the relationship we communally acknowledge has already had the ontological moment, that intimate and permanent change within the individuals that has moved them from being separate to being somehow both autonomous and one.   We may sign papers and perform certain rites, but these are the publicly shred expressions of what has occurred.   That change may have occurred the first time Karl and NIcholas saw each other; it could have occurred during an argument; it could occur as soon as all the documents are signed.  But at some point Nicholas and Karl felt certain that they had not only found someone to love but were different because of this love.   At that point their marriage began.

The validity of their marriage is not determined by the rites of the church or the regulations of the state.  It is in the hands of God to verify that the sacrament of marriage is valid.  Our role is to celebrate the choice of Karl and Nicholas to share in this sacrament.

Since that moment their relationship has grown.   Part of what has helped it to grow has been the families Nicholas and Karl are a part of.  How they view marriage and love was formed by those who nurtured them and who have been nurtured by them.  Even when they have learned that sometimes marriages are not forever, they also learned that marriages can last and love exists.  You have to have some vision of what is possible through love to take the risks of living in love.

Another part of what has helped it to grow has been those who have come to be a part of their lives—those that they have worked with, have laughed with, have argued with, have dreamed with.  You have to have your rough edges and your vulnerabilities tested by others before you can truly accept the challenge of living in love with someone.

Because of the families and friends and communities that have formed and sustained Nicholas and Karl, they can love and care for one another, can grow as individuals and as a couple, can accept new shared responsibilities and new opportunities for delight.

What begins today for Karl and Nicholas is a quest—a journey that will change them in unforeseen ways.

They know that the future is uncertain, that it contains both wonder and delight as well as struggle and worry.  But it is a journey they undertake willingly and with confidence that however the future unfolds, however they individually

experience the challenges life brings them, that together they will be transformed and renewed in unforeseen ways, in ways that they can not yet comprehend.

There will be ebbs and flows in their relationship—but through the good times and the bad I am confident that Nicholas and Karl will find ways to renew their commitment to each other, will find ways to explore their love for each other in fresh ways,  will weave their individual lives together into a strong and vivid tapestry.

The third reading we heard today, the turning of the water into wine at a marriage feast in Canann, is for me a profound reminder that daily life is inherently sacred.  Christ’s first miracle wasn’t healing the sick or raising the dead—it was ensuring that the celebrations of a community could continue.   In the changing of water into wine we are urged to consider that the most simple things in life can be transformed from mundane to wonderful.

There is also a lesson in the reading we tend to overlook.  Christ changed his mind.  He chose to listen to someone else, to meet their needs and that of those around him, rather than hold stubbornly to a pre-set plan.

This spirit of compromise, of being willing to listen to the needs of others, to change direction while being true to one’s self is key to any successful relationship.

I am honoured to have been asked to share today in this celebration.  In their desire for marriage they remind all of us that we are never alone, of the possibilities of love in an often uncertain world.  Karl and Nicholas, may you live from this day forth in love and hope.

The  Marriage


P:            Almighty God, you send your Holy Spirit to fill the life of all your people.  Open the hearts of these your children to the riches of your grace, that yhey may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in love, joy and peace through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All:            Amen.

The Vows

(With right hands joined, reciting after the presider)

In the presence of God and before these witnesses, ____________________, I give myself to you from this day forward, in joy and in sorrow, in good times and in bad, to love and to cherish, as long as we both shall live.  This is my solemn vow.

The Giving of Rings/Blessing of Symbols

P:            Bless, O God, the giving of these rings, that those who wear them may live in faithfulness and love all their days, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All:            Amen.


I give you this right as a sign of the covenant we have made with God and with one another.  Amen


The Proclamation

P:            Karl Clemens and Nicholas Burger have made a covenant of marriage before God and in the presence of all of us.  They have confirmed their marriage by the  joining of hands, by the exchange of rings and by the giving of a kiss.  Therefore,

I declare them to be joined together, their essences woven together and made one.

The Blessing of the  Marriage

P:            May God bless, preserve and sustain you; may God look upon you with favour;

May God fill you with all blessings and give you grace that you may in the life live together in joy, and in the world to come have life everlasting.

All:            Amen.

Signing of Documents/Registrar

P:            Greet Karl Clemens and Nicholas Burger  who are joined in marriage.


P:            Let us pray.

Abundant God, Lover of all creation, pour out your blessing upon us and upon the marriage we celebrate..

All:            Be with us, Spirit of God.

P:            In solitude and companionship,

All:            Be with us, Spirit of God.

P:            In tenderness and intimacy,

All:            Be with us, Spirit of God.

P:            In knowing and in being known,

All:            Be with us, Spirit of God.

P:            In self-sacrifice and self-offering,

All:            Be with us, Spirit of God.

P:            In comfort and consolation,

All:            Be with us, Spirit of God.

P:            In doing justice and making peace,

All:            Be with us, Spirit of God.

P:            In generosity and hospitality,

All:            Be with us, Spirit of God.

P:            O God, ruler of all, you made us in your image and likeness and bestow upon us life and blessing.  You command your followers to be united by the new commandment of love.  Receive the prayers of your people and grant to Karl Clemens and Nicholas Burger grace to love each other all the days of their lives; for you are a compassionate God and a lover of all within your creation, and we glorify you now and forever.  Amen

Exchanging of the peace

P:            The peace of the Lord be with you.

All:            And also with you.

P:            Let us extend to one another signs of love and reconciliation.

Lord’s Prayer

P:            As Jesus taught us, let us pray:

All:            Our Father in heaven

hallowed be your Name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours,

now and for ever.



P:            Spirit of God, in whom we live and move and have our being, you have given us life and the grace of human love that draws us to each other.  Today we pray for Karl Clemens and Nicholas Burge in their life together. We are thankful for the joy they find in each other and for the hope they declare in this act of marriage.  May they always be strengthened to keep the vows they have made, to cherish the life they share, and to honour each other in love.

All:            Amen.

Sending Forth

P:            Go in peace to love and serve the Lord and one another.

All:          Thanks be to God.


Elements for this service were taken from Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe (John Boswell); Same-Sex Unions Stories and Rites (Paul Marshall);  and The Celebration of Marriage: for optional use in The United Church of Canada.


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