[Note: In the early part of September, I had the opportunity to travel to Europe. Family friends were getting married near Paris, they asked me to come to give a blessing at their wedding, and we have never been to Europe so it felt like a no-brainer decision. We traveled much of France and then spent a few days in Italy, and I hope to share some of that trip with you in this space. It truly was the trip of a lifetime. Here is a little background of my relationship to the newlyweds and some of what I shared as a wedding blessing]:
The groom and bride, JF and Maryleigh, are one of a kind humans. I first met them in the spring of 2017 at the home of my beloved in-laws. My first interactions with Maryleigh included wine and faith; what more do you need? When people ask me, “what do you do?” or “what do you study?” I have grown hesitant to answer such things because I fear their response. It seems silly to say because I should “just have faith.” But, it’s never that easy. However, when Maryleigh asked me these things, I had no reservations. Some may say it was the wine, but I believe it was her tender and trusting spirit. She is a woman of warm hospitality, great joy, and deep faith in Jesus Christ.
JF and Maryleigh asked me to bless their marriage and anoint them with Holy Water as I prayed a prayer of unity and new beginnings over their life. It was a tender moment with little English-to-French translation, but full of heart and spirit that I will always remember. Here are some of the words I shared at the wedding of JF and Maryleigh:
From the book of Ephesians in the New Testament: “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice. Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” 
I chose this scripture because I pray that you, JF and Maryleigh, exemplify and exude these qualities throughout your marriage. To yourselves. To each other. To the world. It is my prayer that you two will always seek love and unity in Christ above all else. Now, a prayer from one of Maryleigh and I’s shared, favorite saints:
Eternal One, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
(St. Frances of Assisi)
It is also my prayer that you two may live out these words in your marriage. May you be instruments of peace to each other, and to the world.
Now, let us pray. Eternal God, gracious and loving creator, and giver of all grace. We thank you for the gift of community, and especially for the gift of marriage. We thank you for JF and Maryleigh. We thank you for the community that you have created and surrounded them with, as we stand here as a testament to that gift at this moment. We pray you to be with them and guide them. We pray that you would bless them as they have exchanged vows. We pray that they are reminded that this covenant of marriage represents new beginnings. Look with favor upon this union of husband and wife as they have committed their lives to one another before you and before their family. Give them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their life, that they each may be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comforter in sorrow, and a companion in joy. We love you, Lord. We honor you. We thank you for this beautiful experience to share together today. Amen.
 Ephesians 4:2-3; 31-32.