This is the transcript from our wedding ceremony held on October 3, 2008 at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama. For those who do not know our story, Melody and I were first married in 1992 and divorced in 2002, one month shy of our 11th anniversary. After 6 years of divorce, we reconciled and remarried on October 3, 2008. This is the transcript of that ceremony. Every married couple can benefit from the wisdom shared here. As you read it, may you see your own marriage through different eyes.
Celebration of Marriage
Traylor and Melody Lovvorn
October 3, 2008
We celebrate a big God. We celebrate a God of redemption. We celebrate a God of the church. We celebrate a God who has amazing compassion and an incredible heart of forgiveness. We celebrate tonight, not the God of the second chance, or the third chance, or the fourth chance, but as many chances as we need. We celebrate a God tonight who is moved by the very repentance that he grants us to exercise. We are here tonight to celebrate a really big and glorious God.
Let’s pray together.
Father in Heaven, we pray tonight that your favor and your power would fall upon this couple and their family. For Father, though tonight we are filled with joy and you are being praised, I can think of very few things that makes the enemy of our souls angrier than what is happening here right now. For Father, for a season he seemed to have the victory. And once again Lord, God of the resurrection, you have brought life out of death. You have brought beauty out of the ashes, and the enemy of our souls is angry. So pour out your protection, pour out your power, pour out your might and love on this dear couple, their friends, their family and God, may this serve to be a witness to your bride, the church. Come, Holy Spirit, fall upon this place, move in each one of our lives, heal all of our marriages. For Father, there is not one of us here as a husband, who loves our wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. And nor is there any wife who respects her husband as she respects Jesus himself. So Lord we are sinners, here tonight, made keenly aware of our need for grace. And we asked this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Traylor, the Lord has called you to a high responsibility. He says “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” That means that your love for Melody is to be a complete, unending, self sacrificing love. Not primarily in the big ways, you are probably not going to have to jump in front of a train or take a bullet. It’s going to be a lot more difficult. You are going to be called to lay down your life in small ways, minute by minute, hour by hour. That’s a life of death that leads to life in your own soul, the lives of your children, and in your marriage. You will know you are doing this by God’s grace when this woman here becomes more beautiful to everyone. When she comes alive, when she like a flower, at a time, seems to be wilting, gets the moisture and almost seems to blossom anew. You can’t do it. It’s impossible on your own. But as you humble yourself, and cry out as I have seen you cry out over these past several years, God will meet you, as he has met you, and you will be enabled to love your bride.
Traylor, will you then have this woman to be your wife? Will you pledge your faithfulness to her? Will you love her in all honor, all duty, and service, in all faith and tenderness? Do you promise to live with her and cherish her according to the ordinance of God in the holy bond of Christian marriage? If so, answer “I will.”
Melody, the Lord addresses this to you, “Wives, respect your husbands.” So many women think that their husbands are supposed to be worthy of respect and then they will respect them. Respect of a wife for her husband in a marriage actually reveals more about the character of the wife than it says anything about the deservance of the husband. You’re called to respect your husband because God says you are. Not because he deserves it, not because he is worthy of it. As a matter of fact, you will be showing the most faith in your Savior when you respect Traylor when you feel he least deserves it and that will lead him to repentance. It will cause him to come alive. Everybody will see it.
Melody, will you then have this man to be your husband? Will you pledge your faithfulness to him, in all love and honor, in all submission and service, in all faith and tenderness to live with him and cherish him according to the ordinance of God in the holy bond of Christian marriage? If so, answer “I will.”
Who gives this woman to be married to this man?
Her mother and I.
Dear Lord, precious father, Holy God. We are here celebrating a miracle, a miracle of your grace and your love and your forgiveness. We all stand and sit here this evening crying out “God, be merciful to us sinners.” Oh, may we all recognize that. How long I thought I was the person forgiven the little bit because I was so clean, so self righteous. But oh the day it came when I recognized I was the sinner forgiven so much. Lord, that’s really when you get on the road to grace, when we recognize we are forgiven so much. And that’s why we are here today, because of your grace and your forgiveness. So we celebrate this miracle as this family welds back together under your grace. Lord I thank you for every person that has had a hand in the healing of Tray. It has taken many expressing your love and grace as you brought healing in his life. And I thank you for every friend and person that brought healing in Melody’s life. Because they could not be here today without your love being expressed through all these friends and these family members. God, what a wonderful God you are. How you work, if we allow it. If we’ll open our hearts, and receive that grace, every one of us can walk out of here today feeling more healed, more whole, more the person you want us to be. Oh, God, I celebrate this home where you are going to be the head, where you are going to be not a guest, but a welcome member. Oh, God, we celebrate. In Jesus name, Amen.
Repeat after me,
I Tray, take you Melody, to be my wedded wife.
And I do promise before God and these witnesses
To be your loving and faithful husband.
In joy and in sorrow
In sickness and in health
In riches and in poverty
Until God shall separate us by death.
I Melody, take you Tray, to be my wedded husband.
And I do promise before God and these witnesses
To be your loving and faithful wife.
In joy and in sorrow
In sickness and in health
In riches and in poverty
Until God shall separate us by death.
The one thing that is going to be taken from this ceremony, that you are going to take with you, are these rings. You’ll forget the flowers; you’ll forget everything I said for sure, you’ll forget how you looked. But the one thing that’s going to be with you all the time is these rings. When you go to the beach and take them off, there’s going to be a tan line. Take it off when you play golf to avoid blisters, when you put it back on it’s going to be a reminder constantly. You’re going to constantly have these on your fingers, the one tangible thing from this service to remind you a)of God’s grace and b)what God’s grace has called you to do and to be as you commit yourselves to his Lordship to love one another and cherish one another the rest of your days.
Melody and Tray
I give you this ring
In token and pledge
Of our constant faith
And abiding love
In the name of the Father
And of the Son
And of the Holy Spirit
There is a passage I want to read to you two and to the rest of us as well. It is a passage that I think is filled with your story, a story that is still being written. This isn’t the final chapter. This is the second introduction. It is Colossians 3: 12-17. Listen to these words and be encouraged.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people who he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts, to which you were indeed called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
There are four things I hope you can remember all the rest of your days together.
Number one: Love as you have been loved. Verse 12, as God’s chosen, who are dearly loved. Think everyday, think today, how you have failed to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength – perfectly. And how you have failed to love his creation with all of your heart as you love yourself. And yet, in spite of our infinite number of failures this day, if you close your eyes and understand the gospel, the Father’s posture is arms open wide, a smile on his face, crying out “My children, you will never know how much I love you.” Not because you have been good, not because you have avoided being bad, but because of your faith in Christ that joins you to Christ and enables you to be clothed in his righteousness, a righteousness in which the Father takes great delight. You’re loved perfectly. You’re loved infinitely, and nothing you could ever do will cause God to love you any more than he does now. And nothing you could ever do will cause God to love you any less than he does now. As people who have experienced such unconditional love in Christ you can extend that same kind of love to others, and Christianity begins in the home. Christianity is truly revealed in a marriage. As a matter of fact, I would say you are going to treat one another as you perceive God treats you. So if you truly perceive you are loved, then you will love one another.
Listen to what Paul says, “Be tenderhearted toward each other.” That means to live with compassion and sympathy toward one another. “Be kind to one another.” That means you are seeking to bring good to one another at all times. “You are to live in humility.” That’s love that considers the needs of other people first. “You are to live in gentleness.” That’s love that is courteous and sensitive. “You are to live in patience.” That is love that suffers long and endures much. And remember, what is so amazing about God’s love is that His glory shines brightest in the presence of demerit. May Christ’s love in you shine brightest in the presence of each other’s undeservedness. Love as you have been loved.
Secondly, forgive as you have been forgiven. Your dad’s prayer was perfect. See, little tiny sinners only need a little tiny savior. And little tiny sinners who need little tiny saviors only extend a little tiny forgiveness. But the great big sinners who need a great big Jesus are usually fantastic at extending really big forgiveness. Verse 13, “You must make allowance to each other’s faults.” Now, I’ve told you this before, but if you forget everything else, please remember this. I promise you one thing, God chose you for each other from eternity past. That’s the easy part. Here’s the tricky part. God has allowed weaknesses, brokenness, and sinfulness in each one of your individual lives. He’s allowed that to remain to this point to actually bubble up and expose a sinful response in one another. Sounds crazy, I’m telling you, it’s a God thing. So Melody, this guy’s brokenness, God’s gonna deal with it. But it has been ordained to expose your flesh so that you would see your desperate need for Jesus so that you would experience His grace. And Tray, this woman, as beautiful as she is, is broken and sinful and fallen. And the specifics of her fallenness, God will deal with it in her life. But God has ordained them to expose your sin as you meet it in her life. Your sinful reaction to her sin is so that you will see your desperate need for Christ. What happens in failed marriages is that people begin to focus on the other person’s sin and not their own sinful reaction to the other person’s sin. And they begin to say, “Well, I must have made a mistake. There’s no way God wants me to face this kind of suffering.” Where does it say that? God does want us to face our own brokenness as it is surfaced as we engage the brokenness in our spouse. That’s a tough one, but its truth, and it leads to an experience of grace that is mind boggling. Forgive as you have been forgiven.
Thirdly, encourage as you have been encouraged. In verse 15 Paul says “Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.” Christ is the great reconciler. Christ came to bring peace between two hostile parties, God and his creatures. Wherever Christ and the gospel go, enemies are on the offense. Now Satan at times will get us to think that our spouse is actually the enemy. Our spouses are not the enemy. Remember that, my spouse in not my enemy. But we all think that at times and we need to remember that Christ is the reconciler. Christ is the one that brings restoration, the one who brings peace. Seek Christ and his peace in the midst of your conflict and you will see his spirit do amazing things. How do we do that? Let the words of Christ live in your hearts. Don’t let the world’s perspective, don’t let your own opinions dictate how you respond. Let the words of Christ live in your hearts. Then use his words to teach and counsel each other. Speak to one another is psalms and hymns and songs with thankful hearts. Cultivate a culture of peace and encouragement in your marriage.
Lastly, I want you to remember that you are called to serve as you have been served. Paul says in verse 17 “Whatever you say or do let it be as a representative of Christ.” One of the wildest things about marriage is we’re actually supposed to represent Christ to our spouse. So to some extent, our spouse’s experience of the person of Jesus is in some way dependent on our response to our spouses. Get up in the morning and go to bed at night with the thought that you are Christ’s representative to one another. And how you live with each other is going to affect each other’s view of the Lord Jesus. And remember how Christ served. Remember John 13, he took the towel and washed the disciples’ feet. Seek to wash each other’s feet. Now here’s the thing, you guys, I, all of us here, we can’t do this. I mean, I hope I have presented a view of marriage that has driven you to despair of your own strength. And that’s good news. Because aware of your weakness, you will run to Christ. And Christ told Paul that when we are weak, we are strong. So Tray and Melody, I beg of you, be weak in your marriage so the strength of Christ will flood your souls.
Father is heaven, again, to you be the glory, to you be the honor, to you be the praise. Father we know that as in any marriage, struggles lay ahead, trials are sure to come. Father, we pray as a congregation right now you would give this couple a respite from the fight. God we pray that you would put a hedge of protection around them. We pray that they would enter into a honeymoon stage of great delight and peace, and Father, even of ease for a season that they might be able to taste just how good and how wonderful and how pleasant is your kindness. God we pray that as friends and relatives that we would rally around them, Father, that we would point them to Christ. Lord if there is anybody here this evening whose marriage is in trouble, we pray that they would be encouraged tonight to seek your face and to get help. And Father if there is anybody here this evening that doesn’t know Christ, we pray that Christ being magnified would make them so thirsty that they couldn’t help but run and drink of him even now. And may Tray and Melody’s marriage and home be a place where people feel safe, a place where people feel ministered to, a place where people even are converted. God, protect them and bless them that they may be a blessing to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
I want to close with a story that has always touched me. It’s a true story. It’s a story about a diamond called the Kohinoor diamond. It’s one of the most spectacular diamonds in the entire world. Queen Victoria received it from a young boy who was a Maharajah even at an early age. But later as a grown man, this Maharajah visited Queen Victoria a second time. He requested that the diamond be brought from the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace where he was going to meet the queen for only the second time in his life. When it arrived, the Maharajah took the diamond, he approached the throne of the queen, knelt before it, gave the diamond to her and spoke these words, “Your majesty, I gave this jewel to you once when I was a child, too young, too immature to know what I was really doing. I want to give it to you again in the fullness of my strength, with all of my heart and affection and gratitude now and forever finally fully realizing all that I now do.”
May that story be your story.
So now, by the authority committed to me as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I declare that Tray and Melody are husband and wife according to the ordinance of God and the laws of this state in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Tray, you may kiss your bride.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you once more, Mr. and Mrs. Traylor Lovvorn.