One of the special joys a Pastor gets to experience from time to time is the privilege of celebrating special life moments with members of the Church. The Prayerbook tradition provides liturgies (or at least liturgical tid-bits) for most of the major things like marriages, commissionings, birth of children, and so forth. But something I didn’t find anything for was celebrating a wedding anniversary. Granted, it’s very easy to edit some of the wedding material, but I figured it might be helpful if I shared here online what I’ve done in case another pastor is in a similar situation.
What follows is for an Anglican Eucharist service, particularly with an in-house setting in mind with a small group of family and friends.
The Address (either at the beginning or as the introduction to the homily)
Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to celebrate the anniversary of the union of this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honorable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be sought, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin; that such persons as have not the gift of chastity might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.
Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.
It is into this holy estate that N. and N. have been joined these ## years. [[And it is this celebration that we particularly bring to God this evening as we worship him in Word and Sacrament. Therefore let us stand and proclaim together his Name and his Kingdom.]]
The Collect before the readings (adapted from the marriage ceremony)
O gracious and ever-living God, you have created us male and female in your image: Look mercifully upon all who have received your blessing of holy matrimony, and assist them with your grace, that with true fidelity and steadfast love they may evermore honor and keep the promises they have made; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
The Readings (choose any from the marriage ceremony)
For example, I’m using Ephesians 5:22-33, Psalm 128, and John 15:9-12.
During (or in place of) the Prayers of the People
A Collect for all sorts & conditions of men (from BCP page 814)
O God, the creator and preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech you for all sorts and conditions of men; that you would be pleased to make your ways known unto them, your saving health unto all nations. More especially we pray for your holy Church universal; that it may be so guided and governed by your good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and right-eousness of life. Finally, we commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are in any ways afflicted or distressed in mind, body, or estate; that it may please you to comfort and relive them according to their various necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions. And this we beg for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
A prayer for families (from 1979 BCP page 828)
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who sets the solitary in families: We commend to your continual care the homes in which your people dwell. Put far from them, we beseech you, every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, and godliness. Knit together in constant affection those who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh. Turn the hearts of the parents to the children, and the hearts of the children to the parents; and so enkindle fervent charity among us all, that we may evermore be kindly affectioned one to another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A blessing for N. and N.:
Our help is in the name of the Lord:
The maker of heaven a earth.
O Lord, hear my prayer:
And let my cry come to you.
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.
Let us pray: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord mercifully with his favor look upon you, and fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace; that you may so live together in this life, that in the world to come you may have life everlasting. Amen.
In the Eucharistic Prayers, use the Preface for Holy Matrimony.
Alleluia; let us go forth rejoicing in the love of Christ!
Thanks be to God; alleluia, alleluia!