Wedding of Michael Arida & Alina Kabanova

August 26, 2007

“…and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church…”
(Ephesians 5:31-32)

To best describe the intimacy that exists between Christ and his Church, St. Paul uses the relationship between husband and wife. Just as Christ and the Church are inseparably bound to each other for all eternity so too are husband and wife indissolubly joined to one another for all eternity: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Mt.19:6) As Christ and the Church are the new creation given to the world for its life and salvation the mystery of marriage is given to the world as one of the ways in which human love is brought into the saving and transfiguring love of God.

The Orthodox wedding service is comprised of what were originally two separate rites pre-dating Christianity and which were later incorporated into the marriage service. Taking place in the narthex of the Church, the first rite is the formal engagement or exchanging of rings and signifies the giving of oneself to the other. This covenant of self-offering is dependent on the willingness and personal sacrifices of the betrothed couple and their mutual faith and love for God. “Therefore, O Lord, our God… look upon your servant Michael and your servant Alina, and establish and make firm their betrothal, in faith and in oneness of mind, in truth and in love.”

The second rite, which takes place in the center of the nave, is referred to as the crowning service. Brought into the Church’s sacramental life, the marriage crowns became associated with the crowns of the martyrs who fearlessly and victoriously witnessed to Christ with their own blood. In its most basic understanding, martyrdom is a faithful witnessing to Christ who, as the God-Man, took upon himself sin and death so that humanity and all creation may be regenerated and deified. The crowning of Michael and Alina signifies that their new life as husband and wife seeks to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel and the reality of God’s kingdom.

The common cup, preceded by the Lord’s Prayer strongly suggests that the sacrament of marriage was celebrated in the context of the Eucharist, the new and everlasting covenant of the Lord. Drinking from the common cup expresses that all of life is to be shared between husband and wife. Joys and sorrows, struggles and accomplishments are to be mutually shared. Drinking from the common cup followed by the joining of hands are actions revealing two lives being formed into one new life in Christ. Thus, a new community of faith is created and is called to make present the eternal hospitality of the Christ.

- Father Robert M. Arida