Brandon A. Boyd, Young Adult Lectionary Liturgist
Minister of Music, Worship and Arts, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and Graduate Choral Conducting Student, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Worship Planning Notes
Today we celebrate the sacred union of marriage. The church has a commitment to transform marriages, empower parents, and strengthen our families in African American and other communities. This service should provide resources and spiritual guidance for each couple in your congregation to improve and enrich every aspect of their marital life.
Questions to Consider While Planning Marriage Enrichment Sunday
As you plan, create or anticipate Marriage Enrichment Sunday at your local church, consider these questions to help guide your focus and purpose for this special Sunday:
How many divorced couples are in our local congregation?
What is our congregation’s ratio of married, divorced, or single members?
Where does our congregation stand concerning gay marriage?
Does our church have support groups already in place for those dealing with issues in their marriage?
How will the lives of our church and community be transformed through your planning?
Have we included our single young adults in this worship experience?
Worship Themes. Will your service have a theme? Here are some suggestions to help you begin the process of planning a worship experience that’s engaging and transformative.
Marriage Is a Trio: God, The Husband, and The Wife!
Modeling Marriage for The Next Generation
Transforming Marriage through Prayer: When Two Pray
Developing Marital Spiritual Intimacy
Taking The “I” Out of Marriage
A Sunday School Class for Married Couples. During your Marriage Enrichment Sunday, give examples of how to enrich marriages. Invite a professional Christian marriage counselor to facilitate this class.
The Worship Bulletin. Insert Kelly Hamon’s “24 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage” in your worship bulletin. This resource will benefit both single and married couples. These tips will encourage those interested in marriage to consider these simple ideas and concepts in their future partnerships.
Start each day with a kiss. Decide to begin the day with love.
Wear your wedding ring at all times. Let it be a visual reminder of your commitment.
Go on a date with your spouse once a week. Even if it’s just for coffee, dedicate time for the two of you.
Accept differences. Try to remember that once you thought your spouse’s idiosyncrasies were cute. Your chances of changing them are slim, so decide to live with them.
Be polite. Are you more polite to co-workers or store clerks than you are to the one you love? Practice good manners at home.
Be gentle. Harsh words and actions have no place in your home. Choose to be kind to those you love and who love you.
Give gifts. While diamonds are a girl’s best friend, a card, a single rose, or a favorite candy bar can also do the trick.
Smile often. Put on a happy face and let it determine your disposition. Remember how meaningful the glances which you once gave each other were.
Touch. A pat on the back or a soft caress of the cheek can show love and connection.
Talk about dreams. Get your conversation beyond coordinating schedules and talking about the kids. Take time to talk about ideas and dreams.
Give back rubs. Another day you’ll be on the receiving end.
Laugh together. Find something daily to share a laugh about. Life is complete with laughter.
Do what your spouse wants before being asked. Anticipate your spouse’s needs and jump right in to help. Put his or her needs before your own comfort.
Listen. You don’t have to solve problems, just be an active listener. Turn off the TV, put down the newspaper [cell phone, tablet], and give your spouse your full attention.
Encourage. The best way to give support is to encourage your spouse to do his or her best and to feel confident.
Call your spouse. Check in with each other throughout the day, just to say Hi or I love you.
Hold hands. Take a walk or watch TV while holding hands.
Look your best. Comfort doesn’t have to be socks and a T-shirt for bed every night.
Apologize. Almost as good as I love you is I’m sorry, forgive me. Marriage isn’t a game where you keep score. It’s not important who’s right.
Ask, What can I do to make you happier? You may be surprised at how simple it is to please your spouse.
Reminisce about your favorite times together. Talk about special times you shared, and create new times together.
Pray for your spouse daily.Don’t let a day go by without praying for your marriage, your spouse, and your family. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!
Watch sunsets together. Find the beauty in life and share it.
End each day with a hug. Decide to end the day with love.
1. Recessional. During the recessional, ask all married couples to line up in the front of the church, similar to a normal wedding party. Men are stage right, women are stage left. As they meet in the middle, each couple with grasp arms with their spouses. As the couples are recessing, play “Love on Top” recorded by Beyonce’ Knowles.
2. Call to Worship and Responsive Reading
Call to Worship: Marriage and the Church
As followers of your Son, Jesus Christ, we believe that you, God, created marriage. In Genesis it says, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” As we prepare for worship we ask that you help us to understand your purpose for the union of people. We are the bride of Christ who has given us the perfect examples of forgiveness, compassion, and unconditional love. As we worship on this day, give us these capacities to fulfill the call to marriage that is designed in your will.
Responsive Reading: What Is Love?
What is LOVE?
Love is hope that promises new tomorrows and heals yesterday’s wounds,
Compassion that dispels fear and nurtures the soul,
Commitment that stands the test of time and overcomes mistrust and neglect,
Two souls breathing independent breaths in unison.
True love draws us to God
And to one another in covenant for all time.
Let us focus on God’s love as it unifies our love for our spouses,children, family, and friends. We are the result of true love. Renewour covenants with our spouses to build a stronger connect with Godthrough our connection with our spouses.
3. Hymns and Congregational Songs
(a) ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus. By Louisa Stead. Tune, (‘TIS SO SWEET).
(b) Standing in the Need of Prayer. By Russel Kelso Carter. Tune, (PROMISES).
(c) O Perfect Love. By Dorothy Gurney. Tune, (O PERFECT LOVE).
(d) All Creatures of Our God and King. By St. Francis. Tune, (LASST UNS ERFREUNEN), by William H. Draper
4. Spirituals or Traditional Songs
(a) My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord. Arr. by Glenn Jones
(b) Seek Ye First. By Shelton Becton
(c) Walk Together Children. Arr. by Moses Hogan
5. Gospel Songs for Choirs, Ensembles, or Praise Teams
(a) Somebody Here Needs a Blessing. By Eddie Robinson
(b) Be Blessed. By Kurt Carr
(c) Jesus in Me. By Claas Jambor
6. Liturgical Dance or Mime Ministry Music
(a) When God Gave Me You. By T.D. Jakes and Darin Whittington
(b) Lord I Lift Her Up to You. By T.D. Jakes and Darin Whittington
(c) The Prayer. By Josh Groban
(d) I Will Be Here. By Steven Curtis Chapman
(a) Make Us One with You. By Mary McDonald
(b) Striving after God. By Undine Smith Moore
(c) My Tribute. Arr. by Craig Adams
(d) More Love to Thee. Arr. by Joseph Joubert
8. Modern Songs
(a) Family. By Donald Lawrence
(b) There’s a Healing. By Donald Lawrence
(c) Awesome. By Charles Jenkins
9. Offertory Song or Instrumental
(a) Lord I Owe You. By Kyle Kelley
(b) We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise. By Kirk Dearman
(c) Flesh of My Flesh. By Leon Patillo
10. Song or Instrumental for the Period of Prayer
(a) Put It on the Altar. By C. Homer, N. Homer, and J. Reedy
(b) It’s Me, It’s Me O Lord. Traditional
(c) Be Strong. By Stephen Hurd
11. Sermonic Selection
(a) Trust in the Lord. By Gale Jones Murphy
(b) Jesus, Lover of My Soul. Arr. by Richard Smallwood
(c) For Every Mountain. By Kurt Carr
12. Invitational Song or Instrumental
(a) Falling in Love with Jesus. Arr. by Kirk Whalum
(b) Trust and Obey. By John Sammis. Tune, (TRUST AND OBEY), by Daniel Towner
(c) I’ve Decided to Make Jesus My Choice. By Harrison Johnson
13. Benediction Song or Instrumental
(a) We Are One. By Timothy Wright. Arr. by Valeria Foster
(b) Family. By Tom Eyen
(c) Shalom to You. Arr. by Carlton Young
14. Visual Aids
This video can be shown at the most appropriate time in your worship experience, possibly during a tribute to married couples.