Omie and Taj asked me to say something about the relationship of love and community. I suppose, as a pastor, words to that effect should come easy. But the truth is I’ve been struggling all week with this task.
Taj and Omie are building together. We’ve been invited today to bear witness to that, and also somehow to participate in it. We are stand ins for the community they will cultivate around them as individuals and as partners. There will be changes over the years to this community as people leave and new people come. The love we share with you today will shift and change and mature. Community often has the sense of permanence and solidity—in a way I want to tell you that each of us in this room will be here for you through thick and thin, through all things good and bad. In a traditional church service we might ask the congregation to make their own vow to you as a couple, promising to care for you and help you uphold your vows to each other.
But there is something too controlling, too stagnant about that, something of what bell hooks* might call “dominator culture”. She writes, “Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, reveling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.”
As you go forward, building with each other, draw near to you those willing to risk, willing to move through fear, willing to connect deeply, willing to revel with you. In the midst of that community, guard what you have with each other fiercely, for that is as sacred as each of you are individually. Build community that honors the individual. Build community that honors your relationship.
And then don’t stop there—don’t get stuck. Because you will change, your relationship will change, and your community will change. It doesn’t really matter if you welcome change, change is a constant.
|Congregational Response, written by Taj & Omie|
Octavia Butler** said:
God (Love) is Change
And hidden within Change
Is surprise, delight,
Opportunity, and growth.
God (Love) exists
And to be shaped
We are stand ins today, for all the love and community you will build around you. Reject Domination between each other and within your community. Build fearlessly a community that allows change (and therefore love), take tremendous risks with love. And the love you pour into yourselves, into your partnership, and into your relationships with others will come back to you like the best honey: dripping, dark, sticky, sweet and filling.
May you be so blessed.
*bell hooks, Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope
**Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents