Every year for at least the past 10-11 years our Watershed community here in Charlotte does a series on love, relationships and romance called Stogies & Stilettos. We're pretty much over the name of the series but it has become a bit of a tradition and its familiarity within our community and neighborhoods necessitates the moniker sticking around. I've long been inspired by poet and author Gerard Kelly and his inexplicable gift for articulating prayers for all of us but often his own faith community.
So this year our staff invited me to write a benediction for this year's S & S series and I wanted to share it with you. Some things take days, a lot of coffee and sweat to write and others just come freely. This was the latter. A few days before writing this I re-read some emails and messages I (we) have received in the past few years as well as revisited some conversations I've had accusing of us/me being too accepting, too passionate, too liberal... and I realized what has been meant as criticism are really pretty stellar compliments now that I really think about it.
I've been obsessed with reading The Message translation lately and noticed something about I Corinthians 13 that I hadn't before. In verse 10, it alludes to the great unknowing - that our view and perspectives of God incomplete... but when the COMPLETE ARRIVES, our incomplete will be canceled. HOLY COW I want my incomplete canceled so badly.
"We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly."
I Cor 13:10, 13 The Message
My plea for love like God's is that it gets broader and more transcendent and less like me, less boxy, less denominational, less logical and measured... more passionate, more graceful, more open, more extravagant and more COMPLETE. Just more.
I pray this for you and I pray it for me.
Taryn Hofert 2018
In a world where people are viewed as commodities
Where relationships of meaning are exchanged for depthless encounters
Where bodies created as temples become harbors of shame
Give us an expansive, unconditional love like Yours, God
In an age when screens replace eye contact,
Typing over talking,
Where surface level is the norm
And the perception of airbrushed lives that we propagate only distances us further
Give us an undistracted, unfiltered, authentic love, God.
When commitment gives way to throwing up our hands in defeat
When vows are broken
When the ideal becomes a distant memory
Give us an unending, never stopping, messily vulnerable love, God.
Amidst an epidemic of loneliness
Where we’re all more connected than we’ve ever been yet still feel unknown
Where the constant longing for love numbs the enjoyment of almost everything else
Give us an awareness of Your presence and sensitivity to make more room at our tables, God.
In an age of indifference
In a climate of polarization
When it’s Us versus Them
Remind us that there is no “them” only “Us”
Echo in our hearts that You are love itself
and that love is love is love.
Give us an inclusive, unifying love, God.
For every romance
Engaged, dating and somewhere in between
Now or in the future
May we not be grudge-holders, unrealistic expectation setters, tab keepers,
But rather the first to apologize, quick to forgive, fiercely loyal and celebrators of the beauty of everydayness together.
Give us a selfless, unwavering, loyal love, God.
And may we, your children
Reverberate the affection that we’ve been shown
To the marginalized and forgotten
The insiders and outsiders
The fringe and the forlorn
To others and to ourselves
May we trust in You steadily
And love extravagantly
*for those of you serving in the context of local church/faith communities...feel free to use this at will. It's for everyone 🙏