Recently in my parish we did something different — for us at least. It opened our understanding of a relationship status that exists among us, but of which the Church has done little. We had a community prayer for a relationship. It was not a blessing nor a “pre-marital” prayer, but just a prayer.
The focus was a couple who had known each other since childhood. They each had been married to other people who have died. Both couples had also been friends for decades. After the death of their partners, and being alone for a time, they began dating each other. They were in their 70s.
Neither of these two people knew where the relationship was calling, but they did know they loved each other and wanted God, and those they cared about, to be a part of what was taking place. They also wanted to share their joy. They were not ready to “live as man and wife,” but they were ready to continue to live, and love life, and each other.
A priest friend, The Very Rev. Carol L. Wade, of Lexington, Ky., wrote the following two prayers for them. One we used in the Sunday service, and one was to be used by the couple together when they prayed. These prayers, the public and the private, were a blessing to many. I include them in this article. I pray the sharing of these prayers, and how they were used, might bring comfort to others who are mature, as they step out in faith and love, and the redefining of their personal relationships within the larger Christian community, as well as help family and friends to develop a more welcoming and accepting stance by having some definition and context.
“Holy God, we thank you for _____ and ____ , and the gift of their friendship that has spanned the years and enriched their lives. Now bless them in this new season of their relationship. Give them the joy of discovery and delight as they come to know each other more deeply, the spirit of courtesy and patience as they Journey together, and the gift of respect and gratitude as they grow in their regard for each other. By your Holy Spirit be present in their pilgrimage, that they may travel with the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
“Holy God, we thank you for the gift of our friendship that has spanned the years and enriched our lives. Now bless us in this new season of our relationship. Give us the joy of discovery and delight as we come to know each other more deeply, the spirit of courtesy and patience as we journey together, and the gift of respect and gratitude as we grow in our regard for each other. By Your Holy Spirit be present in our pilgrimage, that we may travel with the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
The Rev. Walter Van Zandt Windsor is rector at Trinity Episcopal Church.
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