Freethinker Ceremonies


free·think·er; ˌfrēˈTHiNGkər/ noun  a person who rejects accepted opinions, especially those concerning religious belief.

Some sample ceremonies

Wedding Ceremony #1 - Gena and Luke

Officiant:
We are gathered here today to witness the coming together of two people, Luke and Gena, whose hearts and spirits are entwined as one. They now desire to profess before all the world their intention henceforth to walk the road of life together.
To these two young people, this marriage signifies the birth of a new spirit, a spirit which is a part of each of us, yet not of any one of us alone. This "birth of spirit" reminds us of spring, the season when all life is reborn and looms again. It is appropriate, therefore, that this wedding of Gena and Luke be in the spring, and that it be under the open sky, where we are close to the earth and to the unity of life, the totality of living things of which we are part.

The beliefs and thoughts about love which motivate these two people are perhaps best expressed in the words of poet Kahlil Gibran:

"You were born to be together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in your silent memory.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heaven dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bondage of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup, but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread, but eat not of the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone, though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping,
For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together,
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in shadow."

Exchange of rings
Do you Gena, knowing this man's love for you and returning it, realizing his strengths and learning from them, recognizing his weaknesses and helping him to overcome them, take Luke to be your lawfully wedded husband?

Bride:
I do.

What token, Gena, do you offer Luke as a symbol of your commitment to him? (present Luke’s ring)

Gena, please commit to Luke by repeating after me:
As your wife and your friend -
I promise that I will stand by you -
In sickness and in health -
For better and for worse -
For richer and for poorer -
For as long as love shall last –

Please place Luke’s ring on his finger.

Do you, Luke, knowing this woman's love for you and returning it, realizing her strengths and learning from them, recognizing her weaknesses and helping her to overcome them, take Gena to be your lawfully wedded wife?

Groom:
I do.

What token do you offer Gena as a symbol of your commitment? (present Gena’s ring)

Luke, please commit to Gena by repeating after me:
As your husband and your friend -
I promise that I will stand by you -
In sickness and in health -
For better and for worse -
For richer and for poorer -
For as long as love shall last –

Please place Gena's ring on her finger.

You will be reminded each day of your commitment to this marriage with the wearing of your wedding ring.  Let these rings serve not as locks, binding you together, but as keys, unlocking the secrets of your hearts for each other to know, and thus bringing you closer together forever.

Blessing of Hands/Handfasting
Please face each other and hold hands (hold hands, officiant drapes cord over them),
These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and vibrant with love, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as he promises to love you all the days of his life.
These are the hands that will work along side yours, as together you build your future, as you laugh and cry, as you share your innermost secrets and dreams. (wrap cord once)
These are the hands that will work long hours for you and your new family.  
These are that hands that will love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness.
These are the hands that will wipe countless tears from your eyes: tears of sorrow and tears of joy
These are the hands that will hold each child in tender love, soothing them through illness and hurt, supporting and encouraging them along the way, and knowing when it is time to let go (wrap cords once)
These are the hands that will massage tension from your neck and back in the evenings after you’ve both had a long hard day.
These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times
These are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick, or console you when you are grieving.
May they always be held by one another. Give them the strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the darkness of fear. Keep them tender and gentle as they nurture each other in their wondrous love.
Help these hands to continue building a relationship rich in caring, and devoted in reaching for perfection. May Gena and Luke see these hands as healer, protector, shelter and guide, for as long as love shall last. (wrap cords once and tie loosely)

Unity candle
Since the dawn of man, people have been united in marriage in all lands, all cultures, and all religions. In marriages everywhere, this is a time for two individuals to leave the families that raised them, to begin a new family. At this time I ask for the mother of the bride and mother of the groom to come forward and each light a candle to represent the separate lives, separate families and sets of friends that brought Gena and Luke to this point today.

Luke and Gena, these two candles represent your lives before each other. I ask that each of you take one of these candles and that together you light the center candle. Lighting the center candle represents that your two lives are now joined to one light, and your two families and circles of friends are joined into one.  This candle before you is a candle of commitment because it takes two people working together to keep it aflame.

And now Gena and Luke, seeking the fulfillment of love and marriage, find again that the poet Gibran speaks for them:

"Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks to another day of loving.
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home eventide with gratitude, and then sleep with a prayer
For the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips."

I now pronounce you husband and wife.  You may now kiss each other.


Wedding #2 - Ben and Becky

INTRODUCTION

We are here to celebrate the marriage of Benjamin  and Rebecca.  On behalf of Ben and Becky, we welcome all of you, and we warmly thank each of you for your presence here today.  We know some of you have journeyed long distances to be here.  Your love and support for Ben and Becky is very much appreciated. 
A special thanks is given to Becky and Ben’s parents: Jamie and Peter, and Mary and David, who raised these two individuals in joy, warmth and love, and who helped mold them into the people that the are today.
Likewise, a special thanks to their grandparents, both those who are with us today, and those who cannot be.  You are the roots of these families, and Ben and Becky will never stop cherishing you.
And to everyone here today, your participation in this wedding is not passive, for you have played important roles in their lives.  You have been invited here out of their special relationships with you.  You are Becky and Ben’s community.  One of the reasons gathering as a community is such an important part of a wedding ceremony is because you are witnessing as Ben and Becky take on a new form as a married couple; and in this form, they become part of your community in a  new way.  Their lives have been touched by yours, and we ask for your continued love and support for them today, and in the years to come.

OFFICIANT’S ADDRESS

The union of Benjamin and Rebecca brings together two family traditions - two systems of roots - in the hope that their new family tree may become strong and fruitful. Theirs is a personal choice and a decision for which they are primarily responsible. Yet their life will be enriched by the bonds, cultures, and support of the families from which each comes.

Ben and Becky, by coming here today and emerging from your families, you are now embarking on what will be a wonderful and lasting union together. A union between two people takes effort, and neither is a relationship ever complete. It is a process and a journey requiring constant nurturing.

A good marriage is one that fosters respect, a devoted love, a willingness to make sacrifices as well as support one another by remaining true to your values and convictions.  It is also an eternal gift that we cultivate within the context of our lives. But bear in mind that eternity is something other than endless time. It is outside of time. It is not the past and not the future, but this moment right now.  If one seeks a relationship of love throughout eternity, it must be a continual process of the here and the now.  Look to the future, remember the past, but live and love one another now.

Marriage is a sacred agreement to love and support each other to the best of our ability and to use the relationship as a means for bettering each other individually and as a couple. Marriage requires that both people in the relationship work to help each other learn, grow and prosper. Marriage teaches us to be more responsible for what we think and feel, say and do, and the level of awareness and willingness each person brings goes a long way toward making the relationship work. It is about learning to become less self-centered in ways that we could never have seen before. And mostly, it’s about looking at the big picture—realizing that arguments and conflicts pale in comparison to the deep and true love we discover as we move through life and confront its challenges together as husband and wife.

Not only does marriage take patience and understanding, it takes time and work. We need to recognize, as often as we can, how precious and unique our chosen partner is. It requires continuous communication, and it takes action.  When you don't feel particularly loving, act loving. The tenderness exhibited by kind and loving acts translates almost seamlessly into the compassion necessary for loving feelings to grow. 

Symbolically, you have been brought together as one, yet you are still two separate people with unique cultures, talents, and ideas. Respect and value those differences and allow your relationship to flourish as your differences mesh and you strengthen each other together.

Ben and Becky, we are here to celebrate your love and acknowledge your lifelong commitment to one another, and also to be reminded that it is love consumes us all. It is in this spirit that you have come here to today to exchange these vows.

EXCHANGE OF VOWS

Ben and Becky, please join your hands, and in so doing, join your hearts. 

REBECCA, Repeat after me:

“I, Rebecca, take you, Benjamin,
to be my lawfully wedded husband,
my constant friend,
and my one true love.
From this day forward,
I pledge myself
as your faithful partner
in sickness and in health,
in good times and in bad,
in joy as well as in sorrow.  
I promise to love you unconditionally,
to support you in your goals,
to honor and respect you,
to laugh with you and cry with you,
and to cherish you as long as we both shall live.”


Now BENJAMIN, Repeat after me:

“I, Benjamin, take you, Rebecca,
to be my lawfully wedded wife,
my constant friend,
and my one true love.  
From this day forward,
I pledge myself
as your faithful partner
in sickness and in health,
in good times and in bad,
in joy as well as in sorrow.  
I promise to love you unconditionally,
to support you in your goals,
to honor and respect you,
to laugh with you and cry with you
and to cherish you as long as we both shall live.”

EXCHANGE OF THE RINGS

For thousands of years, lovers have exchanged rings as a symbol of their vows.  These simple, round bands are not of great value in themselves, but they will be made precious by your wearing of them.  Your rings say that even in your individual uniqueness, you have chosen to be bound together.  Let these rings also be a sign that love has substance as well as soul, a present as well as a past, and that, despite its occasional sorrows, love is a circle of happiness, wonder, and delight.

BENJAMIN, take Becky’s ring and put it on her finger, and repeat after me:

"Becky, you are my one true love,
my best friend,
my soul mate.  
I promise that from this day forward,
you will not walk alone.
You complete my spirit and warm my soul.  
I promise to share the rest of my life with you,
and with this ring I pledge my love to you.”

Now BECKY, take Ben’s ring and put it on his finger, and repeat after me:

"Ben, you are my one true love,
my best friend,
my soul mate.  
I promise that from this day forward,
you will not walk alone.
You complete my spirit and warm my soul.  
I promise to share the rest of my life with you,
and with this ring I pledge my love to you.”

PRONOUNCEMENT

Now let it be known that you are joined, body and soul in this lifetime, and that this bond is sacred and eternal.

And now that you have stood before me and exchanged these rings and these vows, and have agreed to be married according to the laws of the state of Michigan, it gives me gives me great pleasure to pronounce that you are Husband and Wife.

You may seal your vows with a kiss.


BENEDICTION AND PRESENTATION


Ben and Becky, let me express the feeling of all here in the words of an Indian marriage poem:

"Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness.
Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling place, to enter into the days of your life together.
And may your days be good, and long upon the earth."

Ben and Becky, may every desire you have for your love be fulfilled, and may you be given the vision with which to clearly behold one another, listening to perceive one another most genuinely, and generously nourishing one another's soul and sweetly keeping the promises you make here today.  

Now, family and Friends, it is my pleasure to introduce to you - Mr. and Mrs..

We thank everyone again for being here today, and the new couple looks forward to meeting all of you downtown at the reception, immediately following the bridal party’s exit.

 Bride and Groom exit.
 Bridal party exits


Memorial Service for Paul

Outline for memorial service

3:00 - Prelude music – Chris playing

3:30 - Opening/introduction

Read brief bio

“The biography that I’ve just recited is like a picture of a shadow of Paul.  It gives you just the vaguest outlines of his life, but that’s not what his life was.  I remember reading somewhere that you can know a man by the fruits of his labors.  To know Paul, all you need to do is look around.  His children, his work, his students, are all around us in this space we’re in here today.  Much of Paul’s work took the form of a circle, both in his art and in his life.  In his art, you can see for yourself.  In his life, his daughters-in-law, friends, students, acquaintances, were all pulled into the bright, warm circle that was Paul.
He had a strong influence on everyone around him.  His children, like Paul, are all artists and musicians.  As a teacher and a mentor, he guided and taught, provided support, criticism where it was needed, and praise where it was due.  As a friend, a husband and a father, a common thread that I heard while talking to his family was that he was always reaching outward.  He was never concerned with himself, but he always wanted what was best for those around him, literally until the day he died.  His legacy of love and art speak better for Paul’s life than anything that I could possibly say.  Paul might not be able to stand with us again, but Paul’s life has echoes that will last far beyond his mere physical existence.”

Short reading - ("A Litany of Remembrance" by Roland B. Gittelsohn)
In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we remember them.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them.
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.
In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember them.
When we have joys we yearn to share, we remember them.
So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us,
as we remember them.

Tribute
    “The Society of Friends, the Quakers, during their services traditionally have times of silent reflection, during which the members gather in expectant waiting, and then as the spirit moves them, they will share their thoughts, their prayers, their memories and their stories with those gathered.  Paul’s family has asked me to invite you to participate in this tradition today.  I ask you now to take a few moments to recall a memory or story, or think of a prayer for Paul or his family, or your thoughts and feelings of him and what he meant in your life.  Then, please feel free to share those thoughts with us.  Tears and laughter are all a part of life, so if those come with your sharing, don’t be afraid to share those with us too.”

Silent reflection (1-2 minutes)

Memories, stories from family and friends
    
Another short reading - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Roman philosopher):
"In the presence of death, we must continue to sing the song of life. We must be able to accept death and go from its presence better able to bear our burdens and to lighten the load of others. Out of our sorrows should come understanding. Through our sorrows, we join with all of those before who have had to suffer and all of those who will yet have to do so. Let us not be gripped by the fear of death. If another day be added to our lives, let us joyfully receive it, but let us not anxiously depend on our tomorrows. Though we grieve the deaths of our loved ones, we accept them and hold on to our memories as precious gifts. Let us make the best of our loved ones while they are with us, and let us not bury our love with death."  

Chris plays song

Closing, announcement to view artwork, socialize, eat and drink