Dearest Family, Extended Family, Members and Constituents of Oberlin United Methodist Church:

May these words of a borrowed prayer written Rev. Magrey deVega, Senior Pastor, of Hyde Park United Methodist Church, Tampa Florida, be a blessing to you, not only on Valentine’s Day, throughout 2019:

Eternal God of Love and Grace,

In your very being we discover the essence of relational, triune love. For you are the Lover, the Beloved, and the love that flows in between. As one created in your image, empower each of us today to be a person of deeper love – – heart, soul, mind, and strength – – both for you and for those around us.

During this upcoming Valentine’s Day, commercialized by chocolates, flowers, and candy hearts, grant us an authentic love, stripped of selfish desire and plastic facade, and shaped by a view of ourselves as you see us.

Enable each of us to forgive and to ask for forgiveness, that we may share in the reconciling work of Jesus throughout creation. Teach each of us to harbor no ill will or resentment for wrongs done to us. And may the lingering effects of hurtful memories wane over time.

Give us sober judgment in the way we practice love with those dearest. For with them we can be our most vulnerable, but we are often my most guarded.

Empower each of us and those we love to rebuild trust where it is broken, and openness where there is self-protection.

Help us to deepen the friendships we have with those who are most concerned for our well-being. Strengthen our relationships with those to whom we can be best accountable for our actions, who can offer us godly advice, who love us unconditionally, and who can speak the truth to us without judgment or reserve.

Grant each of us a heightened awareness of those around us who feel both unloved and unlovable. Make us an agent of loving hospitality, embodying the warm, welcoming embrace of your love for them. Give each of us opportunities to reach out to those who are lonely, frightened, confused, and distraught, that we might be for them what others have been for us.

Thank you for loving us in ways that are both tenacious and patient. Work past the harboring barriers that we have built within ourselves, keeping us from experiencing the free flow of your love in our lives. See through our self-assuredness, release us from doubt and disbelief, do not be deceived by our pride, and love each of us through our guilt and shame. For in your grace we can find our truest and best self, as we are created in your very same relational, triune image.

All this we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Your Love Made Real, Amen.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Gordon