Sing A New Song
by Arden Ratcliff
A Sermon by Director of Children, Youth, & Families Arden Ratcliff...Download
At First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, a Service of Matrimony or Holy Union is a celebration of the spiritual joining of two persons in a covenant relationship before God. It is perhaps best described as a formal and binding agreement, encompassing a spiritual, emotional and physical commitment that is an expression of mutual love and support. It is also a covenant that places God at its center. The concept of a covenant is found in Scripture: historically, it was a solemn agreement, with a statement of specific terms, confirmed by an oath. In many instances God was the formal, named witness to the agreement.
The covenant of Matrimony or Holy Union is a serious undertaking, not to be entered into lightly. We believe that it is primarily a religious ceremony. In light of this, we feel it is important that your faith be an integral aspect of each of your lives. If you are not seeking a faith-based ceremony, a secular ceremony may be more appropriate for you. In keeping with its sacred nature, it is essential that the covenant of Holy Union or the Service of Matrimony occur within a service of Christian worship. The service itself can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish it to be, but some basic elements need to be incorporated. These include prayer, Scripture, instruction or encouragement, dismissal and blessing. The Rite itself should include a proclamation of commitment, vows or pledges, and the exchange of rings or other sacred tokens. It is a ceremony of celebration for the couple and for the community of faith with whom they worship. As a ceremony of celebration and blessing this Rite provides a time for your family and/or friends to publicly witness and support your covenant of commitment to each other.
We believe that a Holy Union or Service of Marriage is an important event that should be well thought out and planned. Therefore, the following conditions must be met before our pastor(s) will officiate at a Union or Marriage:
• The couple must meet with the Pastor.
• Each of you must be legally single.
• You must assume financial responsibility for the cost associated with your Marriage or Holy Union.
If you wish to begin planning your Wedding or Holy Union at First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, please contact the church office to schedule an appointment with the pastor. The initial appointment is so we can get to know you and help you evaluate if this is the appropriate step for the two of you at this point in your relationship. A Holy Union or Marriage ceremony is not a "quick fix" for a troubled relationship. It is important that proper thought be given to the significance of having a Holy Union/Service of Marriage performed.
During your first appointment, the two of you and the pastor will get acquainted and discuss several important topics. After you have had an opportunity to consider the issues and options, a second appointment will be necessary to plan your actual ceremony and finalize other details. Depending on your unique process, a third appointment may also be necessary.
If we can assist you in planning your ceremony, please contact the church office at
May God bless you in your relationship together.