So I was poking around in the Book of Common Prayer the other day (and if you think that sounds uber-holy, maybe don’t. Truth be told, “Organize Office” was on my to-do list. But there’s a copy of the BCP* on my desk, and I got a little sidetracked).
And anyhow. I came upon this sentence:
That’s just one little line in a much longer prayer, but it caught my eye. I had to read it again. And again.
“Let their love for each other be a seal upon their hearts, a mantle about their shoulders, and a crown upon their foreheads.”
Those words from the marriage service–so incredibly rich–speak to the almost inexpressible power of love.
A seal conveys security and ownership. It marks something as authentic. Could there be any better imprint than love (with its inherent patience, humility, and unwillingness to keep a record of wrongs) to guard a couple’s heart as they give themselves to each other?
A mantle, in Bible times, was a covering that represented a call to service, a purpose before God. Could there be a more potent mandate for husband and wife than to serve God and one another in love?
And the word crown points toward the promise of eternal life, as marriage reflects the covenant relationship between Christ and his bride–the one where Jesus wore a crown of thorns so that we could wear one of beauty. Could there be a more exquisite portrayal of life-giving love?
See what I mean? This is a fabulous prayer! And if you’re looking for more of the same, I’ve got good news and bad.
The good news is that The Celebration of Marriage is chock full of Scripture-based prayers; I’ve pulled a few favorites and put them on a two-sided card you can print. The front side is the blessing, and the back shows where you can find the roots of these prayers in the Bible.
The bad news is that once you start praying this way (whether it’s for your own marriage or for another union you want God to bless), it can be hard to stop.
Which means that “office organization” might not happen anytime soon….
Give ____ such 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…
(Want the rest of the prayer? Click the download–or better yet, get a copy of the BCP and savor it for yourself!)
*And P.S., I didn’t grow up in a church where they used prayer books (or robes, or candles, or really anything except the Bible and Jesus), and I didn’t know what a “BCP” even was. Now I do. And if you ever find yourself in a church where you don’t know all the lingo–words like unction, or epistoler–don’t worry. Just go home and check the phrontistery.
(Which is a real thing.)
(Because you can’t make this stuff up.)