Monday, October 29, 2007


On 27 October 2007 at 4:30 pm, Katherine and I were united by Holy Mother Church in the Mystery of Matrimony.

Keep in mind, though, that we have a certificate of marriage from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fairmont, MN, and one from Martin County, MN dated 23 June 1968.

Some, of course, wonder at this. Some, I think are a bit angry: after all, after nearly 40 years, why in the world do such a thing? How dare your "new church" not recognize what has been!

Keep in mind, though, that to be married civilly is not to be married in the Church. And to be married in most churches is not to receive a Mystery, a Sacrament at all.

We were eager to receive this Gift of the Church. And there was indeed blessing and warmth and relief -- a truly joyous and God blessed time!

As a Lutheran pastor, I performed hundreds of weddings over three plus decades. They all followed the same basic order, involved the same choices of this and that, had the same basic vows exchanged. If you've been to a Lutheran wedding, you know what I mean. And most of them lasted about 20 minutes; most followed a number of weeks of preparation.

However, marriage in Orthodoxy is a Mystery, a Sacrament. Permission must be had from Diocesan offices in advance. There certainly may be instruction and conversation between priest and bridal couple. But the Service itself remains essentially the same. It consists of Betrothal and Crowning. It is explicitly Trinitarian and filled with prayer and readings. And it is something we receive, a gift, a blessing that in its very act gives meaning to St. Paul's words in Ephesians 5! It looks to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit for every good thing and every blessing.

In my last decades as a Lutheran and Lutheran pastor, I increasingly directed couples to the rite of marriage spelled out in the rites of the church -- although more often than not in Lutheran (and protestant) churches, marriage services were crafted with all kinds of selections, soloists and other requests.

It was truly a blessing and joy to see that such is not the case in Orthodoxy: we received what Holy Mother Church gives! We were recipients of the fullness of the Father's blessings for us. The Word and Prayer, the incense and candles, the crowning all bestowed on us the blessing of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Now, this is certainly not a theological treatise. A reflection, perhaps.

But again, I am overwhelmed by the blessings of the Church. I thought I knew a lot, but I'm continually realizing how little I knew.

And so Katherine and I rejoice in the presence of Christ, and in the blessing of the Holy Trinity in our marriage. And we give thanks to God for our Godparents and all the others who surprised us with cards and greetings.

It is good to be Home.

Glory to God in all things!



Christopher D. Hall said...

Congratulations and Many Years...though it does sound odd since you were legally married the same year my parents.

I'm really not sure why some would be angered by this. ISTM that people "renew" their vows often enough that they should not be alienated at what you have received. And for that matter, people converting to Baptist churches have to be re-baptized often enough, so why not remarried, so to speak? Third, it's a sacrament, and while Lutherans may say it's not, they can at least appreciate the concept of receiving an additional sacrament, can't they?

But who knows the minds of men...

Thank you for reflecting on this!

Cha said...

Many years -

I'm curious though ...

Were you received into the church by baptism or by chrismation?


Ezekiel said...

We were received by Chrismation.


Ezekiel said...

Perhaps I should add that when the Chancellor visited, he in conversation with our priest directed that we should receive canonical marriage.

Not every jurisdiction requires such a thing. The OCA, if I read correctly, specifically says that converts to Orthodoxy married in Trinitarian churches are not to be remarried.

We were thinking along these lines already when we were chrismated, but the issue came up earlier this year.

We receive it all as a gift from our God, in any case, given from love and not law.

My reflection reflected God's grace and the richness of the service of marriage.

Christ is in our midst!


Cha said...

He is and ever shall be.

I've just never heard of this and didn't know that the Greek Archdiocese had this policy.

You learn something new everyday, I guess.

(We actually had 2 weddings - the first in Sioux Falls in my husband's non-OCA Orthodox parish. The priest was from Canada and wasn't licensed in the states. The second wedding was the following weekend in St. Paul in my [at the time] Lutheran Church, by a pastor who is licensed in MN - so I guess our bases were covered...)


123 said...

I was not (re)married in the OCA, but we did receive a blessing - essentially a Moleiben of Thanksgiving for an anniversary. The GOA does normally require this. I have also heard it being a problem for some seminarians looking to be ordained if they have not been married in the Church - even in the OCA with its policy. The general argument is that chrismation and communion would fill in whatever may be lacking in the marriage vows. Perhaps if my wife became Orthodox we would consider being married in the Church, but I am unordainable anyway so there is no rush.

DebD said...

In our OCA parish the priest has conducted a Marriage Blessing...which I think is similar.

congratulations to you both and Many Years!

Dixie said...

I am so happy for you and your wife!

My husband is not Orthodox but Father asked if we would like to have our marriage blessed after I was Chrismated. Dh has yet to agree to do so but I keep praying he'll change his mind someday.

Chronia polla!

handmaidmary-leah said...

May God grant you both many years!
I think this tends not to be a policy of Jurisdictions but of diocese, in the Diocese of Alaska, Bishop Nikolai encourages the sacrament of marriage for converts, Bishop Tikhon (ret.) was in the Diocese of the West and was fine with our "Church wedding" when my husband and I became Christians. We did not have a church wedding initially back in 1984 so this was our chance and we did it up right, others who had come into the same parish before us just had the sacrament performed after Divine Liturgy with the parish present and didn't invite their family. It is a fine occasion for evangelization and gives people a chance to see what is up with your new church.
Mostly if the Bishop encourages this, the priest will see that new converts are more inclined to, same with taking saints names at reception.
BTW, this is what I have noticed, things may have indeed changed.
I have to say, I am so glad we were able to participate in this Church mystery, it meant alot to both of us.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Congratulations and Many years, with much love!


Don said...

May God grant you both many years!