Monday, January 26, 2009

Proposed Liturgies for Same Sex Blessings in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Here are the two same sex blessing liturgies that will be officially circulated to the laity and clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia following the actions of Annual Council last weekend. You can read original report of the "Windsor Dialogue Commission" posted at the diocesan website.
LITURGY – IN THANKSGIVING FOR A COMMITTED RELATIONSHIP

The Holy Eucharist Rite Two

In Thanksgiving for a Committed Relationship I

“Of the six forms provided (BCP pp. 383-393), none are required. Any of them may be used or adapted to the occasion. They may also be replaced by other forms. All that is required is that the topics listed at the top of page 383 be included in the prayers” (Enriching Our Worship, 54). This collect, suggested readings, and prayers of the people are intended to be used with the Book of Common Prayer’s Rite II Eucharist.

The Collect of the Day

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, especially N. and N., that in their lives and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Suggested readings are:

Ruth 1:16-17
1 Samuel 18 1, 3; 191b; 20:16-17, 41-42
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Colossians 3:12-17
Suggested readings from the Gospel are:

John 15:9-12
Matthew 5:13-16

Prayers of the People

The couple desiring to make a statement of commitment comes forward at the invitation of the celebrant. Standing before the congregation, the two persons read a prayer or prayers asking for God’s grace and committing themselves to support and care for one another. It is essential that the persons seeking to make the statement of commitment prepare their petitions in advance, in consultation with the celebrant. Their prayers may be read jointly or alternatively, and be in the form either of a single petition or a series of versicles and responses. The prayers should include a request for God’s grace and assistance.

Let us pray for N. and N. who come before this community today to give thanks for the
grace of companionship and to make a covenant to live together in faithfulness and love.

Grant, O Lord, that N. and N. be sheltered under your wing, welcomed as your own flock,
and serve the Church together to your glory.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.


Bestow on N. and N. the grace to be faithful to each other for better or worse, for richer or
poorer, in sickness and in health that they might love and cherish each other until they are
parted by death.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Grant them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their common life, that each may be
to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a
companion in joy.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Give them grace, when they hurt each other, to recognize and acknowledge their fault,
and to seek each other’s forgiveness and yours.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Make their home a place of refuge for those in fear, a place of hospitality for those in
need, and a place of renewal for those who are weary.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

May their lives together be lives of service and prayer for their neighbors, their nation,
and the world that their ministry may be a sign of God’s mercy in this troubled world.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We give thanks for those who have died in hope of the resurrection, [including
______who were loved by N. and N.] May we share with all your saints in the eternal
kingdom.

Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Grant that the bonds of our common humanity, by which all your children are united one
to another, and the living to the dead, may be so transformed by your grace, that your will
may be done on earth as it is in heaven; where, O Father, with your Son and the Holy
Spirit, you live and reign in perfect unity, now and forever.

Amen.

Before the exchange of the Peace, members of the congregation may come forward and lay hands upon the couple. The service continues with the exchanging of the Peace. At the Offertory, it is appropriate that the bread and wine be presented to the ministers by the couple that has made the statement of commitment.
====

38
The Holy Eucharist Rite Two In Thanksgiving for a Committed Relationship II

“Of the six forms provided (BCP pp. 383-393), none are required. Any of them may be used or adapted to the occasion. They may also be replaced by other forms. All that is required is that the topics listed at the top of page 383 be included in the prayers” (Enriching Our Worship, 54). The following form is provided for congregations that wish to include prayers for a same-sex couple among the Prayers of the People at the Eucharist. It is based on Form VI of the Prayer of the people, Prayers and Thanksgivings (BCP pp. 810-41), and the Form of Commitment to Christian Service (BCP pp. 420-21). It may be further adapted.
The Leader and People pray responsively.

In peace, we pray to you, Lord God.

Silence

For all people in their daily life and work;
For our families, friends, and neighbors, and for those who are alone.

For this community, the nation, and the world;
For the victims of hunger, fear, injustice, and oppression.

For all who are in danger, sorrow, or any kind of trouble;
For those who minister to the sick, the friendless, and the needy.

For the peace and unity of the Church of God;
For all who proclaim the Gospel, and all who seek the Truth.

For all bishops and other ministers;
For all who serve God in his Church.

For those who have died;
For the grace to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of your heavenly kingdom.

For the special needs and concerns of this congregation;
For this couple that comes before us this day.

For all the blessings of this life;
For family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

The couple desiring to make a statement of commitment comes forward at the invitation of the celebrant.

Standing before the congregation, the two persons read a prayer or prayers asking for God’s grace and committing themselves to support and care for one another.

It is essential that the persons seeking to make the statement of commitment prepare their petitions in advance, in consultation with the celebrant. Their prayers may be read jointly or alternatively, and be in the form either of a single petition or a series of versicles and responses. The prayers should include a request for God’s grace and assistance.

At the conclusion of the prayers the celebrant says the following prayer:

For those we Love
Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to your never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come, knowing that you are doing for them better things than we can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The following prayer may also be added:

For the Human Family
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look
with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and
work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly
throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Peace

The celebrant may then say to the people

The peace of the Lord be always with you.
People And also with you.

At the Offertory, it is appropriate that the bread and wine be presented to the ministers by the couple that has made the statement of commitment.


Read it all here, starting on page 35.

6 comments:

Ed McNeill said...

Interesting. No vows are included here, but space is created for them as "prayers" to be worked out with the celebrant. Do you think putting vows in here would have been offensive to some?

Canon Tallis said...

Some? There are probably even homosexuals for whom this service would be offensive. The day will certainly come when Episcopal Churches will carry warning signs indicating that to bring a child inside would be child endangerment

BabyBlue said...

I think there are those - including bishops who support same sex blessings as a "pastoral care" issue - who draw the line on vows as bringing the "blessings" into the realm of "marriage." This is, of course, naive on the part of those leaders (including bishops) because the "blessings" are merely just another inch forward. Once the blessings begin (as we've all ready seen) then marriage is not far behind (as we've also seen).

Still, some key leaders (even Barack Obama said during the campaign that he was against gay "marriage" - interesting, huh?) will not take that next step and include the vows, including apparently in the Diocese of Virginia. However, we can see that it doesn't take much creativity to add "vows" as prayers during the open prayer time.

The point remains that by publishing these two liturgies (and there is another one for "friendship" which we supposed is for celibate gay couples which The Church of England proposes to have, as we recall Rowan Williams attempted to appoint a "celibate" gay man as bishop, even though he had/has a partner) the Diocese of Virginia has basically kicked the goat over the cliff.

One of the things that occurred to me during the Annual Council is how Bishop Peter Lee's formal and informal counsel of advice has changed in recent years. When he first came to the Diocese of Virginia he was of course in his forties and his counselors were older than him. Those counselors are gone now, replaced by a far more progressive group that resemble very little his earlier counselors, except for perhaps Russ Palmore. His "litigation report," while amazingly skewed, he actually did a rather masterful job explaining away one failure after another by the Diocesan legal team and somehow got Council to endores $4 million legal debt when they are having to cut programs and staff, no small accomplishment!).

But perhaps they're getting their ducks in order (since of course the goat's all ready over the cliff) for the appeal. In many ways I could make an argument that they gave up early on and put their ducks' eggs all into one neat little Appeal Basket.

Of course, publishing these liturgies at this time - what's up with that? Is there a revolt going on in the Left? Very possible!

Virginia may be one happy Commonwealth, but it's really several states tied into one - and so is the diocese. The legal case was fought in Northern Virginia, but the Diocese of Virginia office is based in Richmond - and Richmond is nearly a state all its own.

The Supreme Court, of course, is in Richmond.

How will these blessings be received around the diocese? Virginians are keen on showing hospitality and they love Bishop Lee. But it's not clear to me that Bishop Johnston is bonding with the diocese and whether he will enjoy the same affection as his predecessor. For heaven's sake - I have affection for Bishop Lee. I gave money to the chapel being built in his honor - twenty out of the twenty five years were pretty darn good. In fact, it was a rather memorable moment to see my name on the list of donors on display in the lobby. But there we are.

bb

Grace said...

They are blessing these poor souls right into hell!!

Floridian said...

Poison. The faux church is poisoning her children.

John S Morgan said...

The same sex ceremonies were interesting but why does one have to re-invent the wheel? Why not use a same sex ceremony like those that have been used for centuries in the christian hurch, like:

10. SIANI 966 [thirteenth century] [Greek]

Order for Solemnization of Same-Sex Union

i
Those intending to be united shall come before the priest….shall place his hand on the Gospel, and the second on the hand of the first…

iv
Lord our God and ruler….who didst commend the union of thy holy martyrs Serge and Bacchus…do Thou vouchsafe unto these thy servants grace to love one another and abide unhated and not a cause of scandal all the days of their lives…

v
…Grant them unashamed faithfulness, true love….

vi
…accept now these Thy servants N. and N to be united in spirit and faith…to prosper in virtue and justice and in sincere love…

vii
…that they be joined together more in spirit than in flesh…

ix
And they shall kiss the holy Gospel and each other, and it shall be concluded. 10. SIANI 966 [thirteenth century] [Greek]

Order for Solemnization of Same-Sex Union

i
Those intending to be united shall come before the priest….shall place his hand on the Gospel, and the second on the hand of the first…

iv
Lord our God and ruler….who didst commend the union of thy holy martyrs Serge and Bacchus…do Thou vouchsafe unto these thy servants grace to love one another and abide unhated and not a cause of scandal all the days of their lives…

v
…Grant them unashamed faithfulness, true love….

vi
…accept now these Thy servants N. and N to be united in spirit and faith…to prosper in virtue and justice and in sincere love…

vii
…that they be joined together more in spirit than in flesh…

ix
And they shall kiss the holy Gospel and each other, and it shall be concluded.

Warmest Regards,

John S Morgan