Last month I had the great honor and privilege to officiate the wedding of my sister and her fiancé Chris. Not only was it so special to stand there officiating their wedding, it was special because it was my first. For posterity’s sake, I thought I’d post it here.
Dearly Beloved; We are gathered here in the presence of God and of this company, that Christopher and Sarah may be united in holy matrimony.
Charge to those attending:
Today is a day of great joy and celebration but it also comes with the sting of change.
Though we are here to celebrate your union, we are also here to send both you off into a new season of life where our standing ways of relating to you are changing.
For your friends and family, we have dreamt of this moment. God has prepared you for this moment. We have labored in His grace to prepare you for this day. But it is in this moment, that we are delighted to willingly YET soberly release you to one another.
To the family and friends here today today, I charge you to be a source of love, strength and encouragement to Chris and Sarah. As they begin to run this race, may we be their biggest fans, cheering them on all the way.
Giving away of the Bride:
Who here gives this woman to be with this man in blessing and confidence?
Sarah, as your brother this day is even sweeter.
In all the stages of growing up, we have not just been siblings, but friends. I have had the privilege of seeing you at your best and at your worst, so I’m an expert when I say that you are one of the most precious, faithful, beautiful, Godly human beings I’ve ever met. Never have I met someone willing to work so hard to serve and love the people in her life. I am proud that I get to be your brother, and I am proud to be adding another brother here today.
Christopher, over the years I’ve known you to be a great man of faithfulness and strength, one who is tender before the Lord. I can think of no better person to be marrying my precious sister.
Marriage at its heart is a beautiful symbol of the covenant keeping love between Christ and the Church. In The story of Christ, we see an all powerful God coming in meekness to serve and love His church to the point of death on the cross, making a way for His bride (the church) to become glorious so she could share in His reign.
We here today are hopeful for your marriage. Not just because we think you both look cute together, not just because we love you individually.
We are hopeful for your marriage because when Jesus came, He died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin. His resurrection shows that He has triumphed over the curse of sin. He has opened the way to Life.
God placed His first man and woman in a beautiful garden where they lacked nothing.
It was here that we see God’s original picture of what marriage was to look like.
They experienced an intimacy with God that we could only imagine. They experienced love and delight untainted by the sting and shame of our current world.
But when they rebelled, everything changed. The ground was cursed and work became frustrating instead of joyful (as God designed it to be). Something as beautiful and life-giving as childbirth became exceedingly painful (so I’m told). Adam and Eve were displaced from the beautiful home God had prepared for them, and found the entrance heavily guarded.
It has become common to say that relationships are difficult. Every book on marriage, relationships, and communication, assumes that relationships are difficult to maintain. But that hasn’t always been the case. Relationships were whole and untainted by sin and doubt before the fall. We are specifically told that the man and woman were naked and were not ashamed (Gen. 2:25), a reality that signifies a complete trust and acceptance in their relationship.
All who trust in Jesus are justified before God and empowered to live in a new way, a way that is not doomed by the dreadful curse of sin. It goes without saying that this marriage will have its high points, and its low points. There will be times of great joy, and times of great pain.
The key to success for this marriage is not to try to simply survive hard times, and spend your time longing only for joyful times. The key to success is to give God glory. God is most glorified when you are most satisfied in Him.
If you look primarily to each other to meet your deepest needs, understand all of your emotions, and be a constant source of encouragement and strength for you, you will be frustrated.
One of you will surely fail to meet the other’s expectations at some point. If your hearts are as Eph 3:16-19 says: “Rooted and grounded in the Love of Christ” when those times come, you can lend strength to the other.
Strength is easy to lend when its not yours. God has made you such that only He can satisfy you.
Therefore find your delight and joy in Christ every day, so that no matter what circumstances life brings, your happiness is not solely based on your circumstances, but is found in the flame of love for God cultivated deep within your heart.
In order to truly love each other in this marriage, you must satisfy yourselves in Christ. God doesn’t intend for your spouse to satisfy you. God intends for your spouse to remind you that you need God.
I am hopeful for this marriage because of the work of Christ. Jesus died for His bride and sets the pattern for us to follow in our marriages.
Sarah, you are called to submit to Christopher.
Though you are fellow heirs in Christ and children of God submitted to each other, in your marriage, Christopher is the head.
This means the consequences of responsibility fall on Him before God’s judgement seat.
By submitting to Christopher you are not just submitting to who Christopher is now, but to who he will become in the grace of God.
Your trust is in the Lord’s leadership in Christopher’s life, not Christopher’s leadership alone. Your trust is in God’s ability to make him into the best version of who we already know him to be.
Sarah are you ready to enter into Marriage with this man?
Christopher, because you are the head, your task asks more, because Jesus gave more.
Your calling is to lay your life down for your wife in the same way Christ loved the church and gave up His life for her.
That means the cost you are paying today is your life, and the goal you are setting today is her splendor.
Your mission from today until the day you die is to love, serve, protect and lay your life down for your wife until she is the greatest version of the dream God dreamed when He created her.
The command of the Bible to follow you as the head, should be easy for her because you are proving your worthiness to her through your meekness, humility, and daily fight for her destiny before your own.
Christopher are you prepared to enter into marriage with this woman?
I love what John Piper says about marriage: “The reason there is so much misery in marriage is not that husbands and wives seek their own pleasure, but that they do not seek it in the pleasure of their spouses.” Christopher seek your joy in Sarah’s joy, and Sarah seek your joy in Christopher’s joy, and you will be happy indeed.
May we please now have the rings?
The bride and groom have opted to recite their own vows.
The bride and groom are now going to take communion and pray with one another.
Parents and family blessing
Those that have been asked to pray for the couple, please come forward at this time.
Pronouncement of marriage:
Christopher and Sarah, you have declared your commitment to each other before your family and God. It gives me the greatest of pleasure to pronounce you husband and wife.
You may now kiss your bride!
I invite you to stand and join me as I introduce to you for the very first time: Mr. & Mrs. Christopher Jackman!