I have been privileged to share in the most intimate moments of people's lives: weddings, funerals, baptisms and more.
There is something profoundly life changing and frightening when being charged as the officiant of such affairs. Not that most things in life don't have a spiritual reality to them, but that in these occasions you are hyper-aware of God's presence.
It is also the most incredible experience. Your job is to ensure the needs of those who have made the request, are met, and this is no light weight to carry. While in reality you are a side player in the events, you have the grand opportunity to speak into lives.
I have never published a wedding ceremony, a funeral or baptism sermon, but I thought after this weekend I might. I wish I had Charles Stewart's words to Danae and I on the day we wed in 1993, the promises we made, the words of wisdom he shared. It seems it would be wise to return to those words often to ensure they are followed completely. Words matter. Vows matter.
I asked Ryan Sammons if I may post the words and vows from their special day, October 28, 2011. He gave permission, so I am posting them for their future reference, and as a reminder for all of us about our wedding day. I think I may make the request of those in the future as well no matter the occasion, as words matter.
The Wedding of Ryan An Jennifer Sammons
Who gives the women to this man?
Welcome family and friends to this exciting moment for Ryan Sammons and Jennifer Barton as they choose to join their hearts and spirits and face the joys and struggles of life together.
Let me begin by honoring their parents: Richard, Linda, Charles and Donna for a job well done. James Dobson writes that if you get your kids to 18 alive, you’ve been a successful parent. In this case, you have been more than successful, for Ryan and Jen have turned into two wonderful young people.
Please remain standing as we acknowledge the most important participant in today’s ceremony. Please join me in prayer.
(Prayer: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made)
In our lives there are key moments that we never forget. Like the moment you two met.
Many of you may know the story of how these two came to know one another, but in case you didn’t, I went to Jennifer to get the real story.
One of Jennifer’s friends was having a birthday party at her apartment, and one her childhood friends Barrett Boone was coming and Boone invited Ryan. Jennifer recalled that it took several phone calls and multiple times giving Ryan directions to get him there. When he finally arrived she went downstairs to show him where to park, and in her words, “Their stood this tall, handsome, F150 driving, cowboy-boot wearin flawless-smile of a man”. They began dating a while later, and hence we are here today.
Now Ryan’s version starts with, “I showed up at the apartment using my keen sense of direction”…but we’ll skip his version. But that same night he remembers being enchanted with Jennifer’s smile, her voice, and the contagiousness of her fun loving spirit.
Ryan, Jennifer, today is another one of those key moments in life for you.
This is a reference point for you until the end of your lives. A moment that in life you must never forget / and I assure you that life will attempt to throw things at you to dull the memory of today, the vows of today, and seriousness of today.
Today is not about a contract, as contracts are designed to ensure two parties to live up to their promises because they don’t trust each other. Today is about an unbreakable covenant because you do trust each other and you trust God. Today is about committing to the other in service, no matter what may come. Much as God made a new covenant with us through Christ to redeem us. Covenants are for life and unbreakable. So when the dark hours come, and the do come, this is your reference point that you have no choice but to be faithful and love the other.
And I know you to love each other.
Ryan, Jennifer shared with me that being with you brings her joy and comfort. She loves that you’re a man who is willing to state his opinion, at the same time graceful enough to listen to others. She loves your passion for life, the outdoors and her and she is grateful to have found someone in life she can trust fully.
Jennifer, Ryan said after a long morning of playing at the park he likes to listen to you and Levi snore on the couch together. (That’s what he said.) He also said he is grateful for the ways that you share your love him: from your daily emails, to the random notes you leave for him. He’s grateful for the encourager that you are to him. And he loves singing country songs with you.
Never forget your love for another. That love, Jennifer that brought you to say, “Yes” on May 21th when this man proposed. That love, Ryan that made you confident to ask for her hand.
But above all, never forget the love of our God that created marriage. That told us it was not good for a man to be alone. That said for this reason a man shall leave his parents and cling to his wife. He is to be loved first, and in doing so, you will love each other all the more. I cannot stress to you enough today, that if you put Jesus Christ first, you will have a life together full of indescribable joy, no matter what life throws your way.
“The freedom to choose a mate is a gift from God, who created us in his image. The desire for earthly bliss is not something we steal from behind the back of God, but it is something he has desired that we desire.”
So remember this day and the love you have for each other, and above that / remember this day and the vows you are about to make to each other.
Please turn and face each other and join hands.
do you love this woman? (Response)
Will you have Jennifer to be your wife? (Response)
Will you put her before all others? (Response)
Will you put her before yourself? (Response)
Will you be true and faithful to her every day of your life until death? (Response)
Do you accept the responsibility to be the spiritual leader in your home to her and to your future family? (Response)
Ryan repeat after me please:
I, Ryan, take thee Jennifer, to be my wife, and before God and these witnesses I promise to be a faithful and true husband."
Do you love this man? (Response)
Will you have this man to be your husband? (Response)
Will you put him before all others? (Response)
Will you put him before yourself? (Response)
Will you be true and faithful to him every day of your life until death? (Response)
Do you accept the responsibility to be the spiritual cornerstone in your home for him and to your future family? (Response)
Jennifer repeat after me please:
I, Jennifer, take thee Ryan, to be my husband, and before God and these witnesses I promise to be a faithful and true wife."
Do you have a ring for Jennifer as a token of your promise? May I see the ring? This ring is made of pure medal, as the ring is pure, so should your marriage remain pure. Please place it on her left hand.
Ryan Repeat after me: "With this ring I thee wed, and all my worldly goods I thee endow. In sickness and in health, in poverty or in wealth, til death do us part."
Do you have a ring for Ryan as a token of your promise?? May I see the ring. This ring is one complete circle, there is no separation, so should you two be one. Please place it on his left hand.
Jennifer repeat after me: "With this ring I thee wed, and all my worldly goods I thee endow. In sickness and in health, in poverty or in wealth, til death do us part."
Ryan and Jennifer have chosen to start their life together by acknowledging that Christ is the center of their relationship by sharing Communion together. In the early church followers of Jesus frequently took part in the Lord’s Supper in obedience and to show that they abide in Christ. Today they profess their continued desire to abide in Christ as two gathered in his name.
In the Lord’s supper we acknowledge the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The extreme price that was paid for our sin on Calvary. And we rejoice in Christ’s resurrection and hope for his soon return.
The apostle Paul wrote, “for as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” Before you today Ryan and Jennifer proclaim that their lives are dependent on the Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection from the dead and that this is their hope.
(MUSIC – Address the Couple Only)
Paul reminds us to: Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup 1 Corinthians 11:28 Let me Pray for us.
Isaiah shared with us what the purpose of the Messiah hundreds of years before he arrived when he stated, “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
Paul also said, for as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26
When Jesus was with the disciples before his death…”he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Luke 22:19-20 Do this in remembrance of me.
If you serve Christ first, you will not fail at serving each other.
(The couple has a moment alone)
(RETURN TO CENTER)
Ryan and Jennifer, “as God adds his “yes” to your “yes”, as He confirms your will with His will, and as he allows you, and approves of your triumph and rejoicing, he makes you at the same time, His instruments of His will and purpose, both for yourselves and others. God does add His “yes” to yours, but by doing so, he creates out of your love something quite new – the holy estate of Matrimony.”
You have exchanged vows. It is not your love that sustains your marriage, but from now on, the marriage sustains your love.
Before God and these witnesses, I pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride!
Family and friends may I present to you Mr. & Mrs. Ryan Sammons!