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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Love and Loyalty: A Wedding Celebration!

Presented by Rev. Diane Teichert with Bettie Young, Worship Associate

Love and Loyalty:  A Celebration of  Enduring Love

Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church

Rev. Diane Teichert, Minister

January 6, 2013


+INGATHERING MUSIC      David Chapman, Music Director and pianist


This is a love-fest, this time we have together each week. Only today, we are naming it as such! Isn’t it great to be together on a day such as this!

      PRELUDE       Love is a Many-Splendored Thing      Webster/Fain,

Arr. George Shearing

WELCOME Bettie Young, Worship Associate

OPENING WORDS      Rev. Diane Teichert, Minister

Today we are singing the praises of the kind of love some people marry for, the kind of love that all people in our state can now, as of this past Tuesday, marry for. A man and a woman, two men, two women – theirs is now a love they may marry for.

We are celebrating and we are exploring how it is that such love can endure – what combination of love and loyalty and a bit, or maybe a lot, of luck, plus sweat and tears – literally – makes it last a life-time.

But let us first remember that there are other kinds of love – the love between children and parents, between best friends, between siblings, between a reader and a good book, between musicians and their instruments, between a human and a pet… the kinds of love are nearly endless.

Let us remember this with these words by contemporary Black woman poet, Nikki Giovanni,

Some people forget that love is
tucking you in and kissing you
"Good night"
no matter how young or old you are

Some people don't remember that
love is
listening and laughing and asking
no matter what your age

Few recognize that love is
commitment, responsibility
no fun at all

Love is
You and me


+HYMN #410 Surprised by Joy

In a moment we will sing the only song in our hymnal originally written for weddings, adapted by a Unitarian Universalist for singing at services of union – remember them? If a gay or lesbian couple wanted to declare their love for each other before their family, friends and God by whatsoever name they worshipped, it was not a wedding, because they could not be legally wed, so it was called a service of union or commitment ceremony. As of this week, our hymnal is outdated in Maryland – no need to mention anything other than weddings because now every couple can wed! Please find Hymn #410 and rise as you are able.


We light the chalice to celebrate Unitarian Universalism.

This is the church of the open mind, the helping hands,

the loving heart, and the radiant spirit.




Go now in peace, go now in peace.

May the light of love surround you.

Everywhere, everywhere, you may go.


Joys and Sorrows cards will be collected at this time.


CHALICE REFLECTION Bettie Young, Worship Associate


MUSIC In My Life Lennon/McCartney

Michel Léger, vocalist


HOMILY      Love and Loyalty - Part One

    Rev. Diane Teichert


When two people have decided “in my life, I love you more” than what has come before, and ask me to officiate their wedding ceremony, it typically begins, and has for all the years I’ve been a minister,

“Dearly beloved, we have gathered here today that (name of bride) and (name of groom) might bear witness before us and the world to the love that has grown between them; that they might affirm their oneness and their dedication here, as they have already affirmed to each other.”

And now, in Maryland, instead of Mary and Mark, it can be Mary and Margaret or Mark and Matthew!

I go on, “The mysterious union of two persons in marriage occurs very simply in the giving and receiving of their love and devotion.  In witness to this mystery, they have come to pledge their affection and the sharing of their lives.  They have gathered you together, their families and close friends, to witness this pledge and to ask you for your support, for they know marriage is no easy commitment to make or to keep.

To be true, this outward form must be a symbol of that which is inner and real:  a sacred personal union, which a minister may bless and the state make legal, but which only love can create, and mutual loyalty fulfill.”

Of course, it takes more than love and loyalty. A bit, or maybe a lot, of luck, plus sweat and tears – literally – to last a life-time.

Well, this so-called “mysterious union” may occur very simply in the giving and receiving of their love and devotion, but it is not JUST simple.  It is also complex.

Many couples start off thinking that they magically will become “one,” but the reality is that an enduring relationship requires that neither gives up themself for the other.  They may give OF themselves to the other, but they should not give up themself FOR the other.

Perhaps because I’ve been married now more than 33 years myself not including 4 or more years of being together, and then not, before marrying…  in the past few years, my wedding homily also includes this admonishment, “Each of you must continue to discover the ways in which you need to strong within yourself in order to be strong together. You must hold onto yourself when the other is weak, and support each other’s strengths. You must continue to be open and honest.”

The enduring relationship is complex like a rich tapestry, in which strands are hidden in places and visible in other places. At the outset, there is so much for the couple to discover about each other, and about who they are together and it feels exciting. But even after it’s no longer new, things will likely get boring and go awry if the either or both avoid what they don’t want to see. This inevitably involves some struggle, at times, whether the relationship is new or long-time, but hopefully the adventure of discovery is enjoyable, or if not exactly enjoyable, it feels right and promotes growth for each.  It’s growth and change that makes us feel alive, especially when the growth is hard-won. The most essential element is making and keeping a commitment to “work it out.”

MUSIC We Can Work It Out McCartney/Lennon

   Elizabeth Porter, vocalist

and Jesse Crowley, vocalist/guitar


HOMILY Love and Loyalty - Part Two

I don’t remember whether I or our Music Director who suggested the Beatles when we were first discussing the music that would be appropriate for this service. But I definitely recall who wanted “In My Life” (he did, are you surprised?) and who wanted “We Can Work It Out” (that would be me, rarely the romantic one!) So, rather than fight it out, and even though it would heavily weigh the music toward our generation rather than being inclusive, we worked it out by doing both.

“We can work it out” is a statement of faith, isn’t it? When one or both feel that faith slipping, it’s time for counseling. Some couples talk with me for starters, and I am glad to do so for any of you, but I don’t have the training or the time to meet for counseling on a continuing basis, so I generally help them find someone who does. I know from my own experience, individually and with my husband, getting help when I, or we, need it is a very good thing.

There can be a mystical or spiritual aspect to intimate enduring love relationships. Poet Robert describes it in his poem “A Third Body.” He describes “A man and a woman” but I’ve changed those words to “Two lovers.” (A Third Body in Loving a Woman in Two Worlds, p. 19).


Two lovers sit near each other, and they do not long
at this moment to be older, or younger, nor born
in any other nation, or time, or place.
They are content to be where they are, talking or not talking.
Their breaths together feed someone whom we do not know.
…They obey a third body they have in common.
They have made a promise to love that body.
Age may come, parting may come, death will come.
Two lovers sit near each other;
as they breathe they feed someone we do not know,
someone we know of, whom we have never seen.

For years, my wedding ceremony homily has ended with the following words. I borrowed them from a mentor, and they end with what I think of as my contribution to a world without domestic violence:

“May you share with each other joy, stand with each other in times of trial, and be ever open to the many voices of the human heart, both spoken and unspoken; for with understanding and patience your love will live and grow through times of strain as well as it will grow in the times of pleasure you will share.  And in all things, be gentle.”




Beginning last Tuesday, same-sex couples have the right to take on the outward form—marriage—of that which is and, for many has been for a long time, an inner and real sacred personal union. 

As with heterosexual couples, some gay and lesbian couples may choose not to marry, even though now they have that right.  Others who have previously said their vows and celebrated their relationship in a Service of Union or Commitment Ceremony before family and friends may now simply ask a justice of the peace or a clergy person to sign their marriage license.  Others will plan a wedding, a big fat or a small intimate wedding. 

In Massachusetts, on the first day that same-sex marriage became legal, I accompanied two women as they appeared before the Town Clerk to get their marriage license – there were no protesters out front of Town Hall and no problems with the Town Clerk. It was a total joy to officiate their wedding, and others in subsequent years, and each time I got to the part where I say, “By the power vested in me by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I herby declare you to be love-fully and lawfully wed!” it gave me the shivers and such cheers, clapping and stamping of feet such as you have never heard at a wedding ensued. Such joy is coming to Maryland, too!

Today, as we celebrate the making of history here in Maryland, let’s recognize and affirm the gay and lesbian couples among us whose relationships have endured in the face of the homophobia and discrimination in our society. I want to invite any who are so willing to do so to come forward to receive boutonnières and our affirmation, perhaps saying the number of years you’ve been together. 

After each, let us respond, “We bear witness to your love.”

Finally, I invite each person or couple present here today who is or has been in a committed relationship, married or not, and if you are separated now by death or divorce, to count in your minds how many years you are or were together, however you define the beginning.

I remember one morning, early in our marriage, my mother-in-law called long distance to wish us a happy wedding anniversary.  Well, truth be told, we’d forgotten all about it, and, answering the phone, I said, “what?”  Helping me over my embarrassment, and knowing that we had lived together before we wed, she kindly said, “Well, maybe you celebrate some other anniversary.” 

Anyway, you may count your years together from whatever starting point you so wish.  I hope even those whose relationships are only months old will participate and also those who have been parted from loved ones by death or divorce, if they are so willing. For however long that love and loyalty lasts, it’s to be celebrated!

We’ll do it by decades. After each, let us repeat, “We bear witness to your love.”  


HYMN #95 There Is More Love Somewhere


Lynn Johnson, Pastoral Care Associate



Sometimes When We Touch Hill/Mann


In a few moments, we will transform this space into a “wedding reception” complete with wedding cake, sparkling cider, a DJ (our own Sonny Katz) and dancing. We will need to end by 12:45 in order to transform the space back into a recital hall for our 1:30 rental. We need the help of as many people as are able, with the help of Building Manager Eric Welkos, to move to the side walls the front four rows of chairs (to create a dance floor) and the rear four rows of chairs (to create space for the reception). Please also move the chairs under the windows behind this section but leave the chairs under the windows over there. The remaining chairs in the middle of the room can be arranged in conversational clusters. If more people wish to sit, some of the stacked chairs can be pulled down as needed.

CLOSING WORDS Charge to the Couple

from The Book of Pagan Rituals

Above you are the stars

Below you the stones.

As time does pass


Like a star should your love be constant.

Like a stone should your love be firm

Be close, yet not too close.

Possess one another, yet be understanding.

Have patience each with the other

For storms will come, but they will go quickly.

Be free in giving of affection and warmth.

Make love often, and be sensuous to one another.,

Have no fear, and let not the ways or words

Of the unenlightened give you unease.

For the spirit is with you,

Now and always.

Knowing the long way we’ve come toward gay marriage, which some did not expect to see in their lifetimes and knowing the way ahead toward peace and justice for all is ongoing, let us rise and sing together Spirit of Life, #123 in the hymnal.

RESPONSE #123 Spirit of Life  


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Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church • 3215 Powder Mill Road • Adelphi, Maryland 20783-1097
301-937-3666 • Fax: 301-937-3667 • churchadmin@pbuuc.orgwebmaster@pbuuc.org

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