An outdoor ceremony in England during June – such as Mini and Leo planned yesterday – means umbrellas at the ready, but our daughter-in-law proved right in saying that she is "Sunny Lady:" there was only the merest whiff of rain during the post-marriage blessing and celebration in the romantic setting of Painswick's Rococo Garden. Andrew Meynell devised a beautiful liturgy: this was his Introduction:
Leo and Katsumi are really thrilled that you are all able to come to this Celebration of their Marriage, and want to welcome you very warmly to the Rococo Gardens. This is the English celebration – the Japanese version will happen in October – so it is based on a Christian service. They are very keen to help us think through the significance of what they have done in marrying each other and to open our understanding of the meaning of this relationship. They particularly want their family and friends to participate with them in this Service before we all move to the Orangery for the reception and cutting of the cake.
You, Mini and Leo, are standing in front of your family and friends as husband and wife, as you come to dedicate your lives to each other.
From very early in the Christian story, Marriage has been understood as a gift: it is a given that husband and wife may comfort and help each other, living together in need and in plenty, in sorrow and joy. It is a given, that with delight and tenderness they may know each other in love, and, through the joy of their bodily union, may strengthen the union of the hearts and lives. It is a given as the foundation of family life in which children may be borne and nurtured in accordance with God's will, to his praise and glory. This is the meaning of the marriage you have made.
Leo and Mini, you are doing more than marrying each other: you belong to one another as partners and as soulmates; and also are bringing together two families from different countries, crossing the boundaries of cultures and faiths. By your action here you are saying you are not afraid of differences, but are enriched by them; not distancing yourselves through fear but committed to working with whatever keeps you from loving one another to completion. We have a common humanity - in which we know deeply that we belong to one another; a world in which we pray and work for humanity’s well-being; where we search for its meaning and purpose; where we repent of what goes wrong, where we act to put things right, where we celebrate what goes well; it’s a world where we become more healed by being prepared to bear more for the sake of others who are less well. It is through close relationships such as marriage that we learn about trust, commitment, faithfulness and love and how we might live most fully the life we are meant to live.
St John wrote ‘God is love, and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them.’ So let us keep silence, and become aware of the deeper mystery that is the Holy Spirit here within and amongst us now.