Posted by Joanna on April 24, 2001 at 01:39:54:
In Reply to: Re: greek orthodox wedding posted by Joanna on April 24, 2001 at 00:35:17:
This Chapter "The Administration of the Sacrament of Marriage" is taken from the book "The Seven Sacraments of the Greek Orthodox Church" by Rev. Philip G. Gialopsos (copyright 1998). (I've emphasized the word WITNESS regarding the bestman.)
The Administration of the Sacrament of Marriage
A Brief Explanation
The wedding ceremony is divided into two parts:
1. The Betrothal (Engagement) Service.
2. The Service of the Crowning, or the Sacrament of Marriage proper.
In the Betrothal Service, the Priest, after sayig the petitions, offers prayers and blesses the rings which engage the couple. After making the sign of the Cross with the rings three times over the head of the groom first and the bride second, he says, "The servant of God (name) is betrothed to the servant of God (name) in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." Afterwards, he places the rings on the third finger of their right hands. The rings are then exchanged three times by the bestman, who stands as an official WITNESS while the Priest offers a prayer for the blessing of the engagement. (The rings signify promise for purity and spotless life with endless love as the circle of the rings).
In the Old Testament, Pharaoh gave Joseph great authority and power by placing a ring on his right hand. The Hebrews used the giving and wearing of the rings as a sign of rights and responsibilities. The engagement ring that is given today has the same meaning, a sign of assuming responsibilities and rights on the part of both the man and the woman.
In the Service of the Crowning, or Sacrament of Marriage proper, the Priest chants the petitions following ther reading of prayers. When he recites the words, "Do Thou now, O Master, send down Thine hand from Thy Holy dwelling-place and unite Thy servants (groom's name) and (bride's name) for by Thee woman is united to man," he joins the right hands of the couple. Next, he blesses the crowns three times over the head of each of them, while reciting the words, "The servant of God (name) is crowned to the servant of God (name) in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." The Priest then places the crowns upon the heads of the couple chanting, "Lord our God with glory and honor crown them." The Best Man exchanges the crowns from one to the other three times.
The exchanging of the rings and crowns by the Best Man and his participation in the performance of the Sacrament signify his WITNESS to the agreement of the couple to be united in the Sacrament of Marriage. The crowns signify the honor with which the Church embraces the groom and the bride. They are also a symbol of authority and responsibility or an award for the expected purity, as members of Christ's Kingdom on earth.
Then the readings from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians 5:22-23 and from the Gospel of St. John 2:1-11 follow. The Gospel reading describes the presence of Christ with the Virgin Mary and the Disciples at the Wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the performance of his first miracle by changing the water into wine. The Epistle reading describes the duties and rights of husband and wife. After the reciting of the Lord's Prayer, the Priest blesses the common cup with the wine and gives it to the couple who take three sips from it. This is NOT Holy Communion. The common cup of wine, from which they both drink, symbolizes the sharing of the joys and sorrows of life as they come, and that married people should stand by each other to the very end.
Afterwards, "The Procession of Isaiah" follows. The Priest leads the couple in a procession in a kind of ceremonial dance, three times around the table, where the Holy Bible is placed, followed by the Best Man (who holds the ribbon of the crowns). During the procession, the priest or the choir sings three hymns. The first points out to the begetting of children as an event sanctified by the fact that God Himself took flesh from the Virgin Mother and became man for our salvation. The second calls for the help of the Holy Martyrs of the Church upon husband and wife, and the third thanks Christ for the Sacrament. The three circles are made as an expression of happiness for the spiritual union of the couple with the blessing of God. It also symbolizes that the newlyweds are taking their first steps of life in the House of God.
The ceremony ends with several prayers beseeching God, our Heavenly Father, to bless the newlyweds and "grant them length of life, fair offspring and progress in life and in faith."
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