Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Now that's a prayer.

In addition to Rev. Lowery's wonderful benediction, I was very moved by the opening prayer of the whole shebang, which was delivered at Sunday's concert by Bishop Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop. Here it is in its entirety:

By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

Opening Inaugural Event Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC January 18,

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please
join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our
next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…
Bless us with
tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a
day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an
education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and
Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against
refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve
preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves
and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges
of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us
will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a
human being, not a messiah.
Bless us with humility – open to understanding
that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine
respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our
diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every
religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human
community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the
office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s
reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best
efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm
captain in these times.
Give him stirring words, for we will need to be
inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to
facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his
leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that
experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those
who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him
remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his
daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our
presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and
his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to
keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we
have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and
that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity,
prosperity and peace.



Mike Reino said...

I liked it too, util the very end, where he referred to all the colors - Red man being the Head man, etc. Then he said 'whites need to do what's right' - like it's all my fault. Personally, i'm gettign a little sick of being blamed for anyone who isn't white not getting everything they wanted in life.

pluvlaw said...

Lowery's ending was: ....help us work for that day when black will not be asked to give back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right."

I don't think anyone's coming after us. Its just an easy (and lyrical) way to wish for racial harmony.

For what its worth, the "God of our weary years, god of our silent tears" is powerful stuff. Especially when spoken in this setting by a civil rights icon.

I think I can safely say that the language we will see used by this President over the next 4 years is going to be extraordinarily eloquent and moving. I've been working my way through "White House Ghosts" (about presidential speech writers) and I heard some phrases and language this weekend that challenged some of the most well known of all time.

I thank God we can put the rest our President's constant use of the phrase, "in other words." As one blogger I read noted: Yeah...thanks W. I was having trouble following your highfalutin' arguments...

Cheesefrog said...

I don't know, Pluv. The inauguration of a black man to the highest position in our country seems like precisely the wrong occasion to yearn for an as-yet realized time that whites will "get it." I mean, even Obama visibly winced when he said it.

To me it's somewhat paradoxical that some civil rights icons don't seem to be happy that they have actually achieved (to what extent is debatable of course) what they set out to do. I can only assume it is because they are having a hard time dealing with a lack of relevancy these days.

pluvlaw said...

Valid points, Cheese. I guess it's kind of like having an old cantankerous, racist uncle who is always saying embarassing shit. What are you gonna do?

I guess I chalk it up to being in that fight for so long, I'd be pretty skeptical too. I heard some comments this morning at breakfast that made me cringe. Here in the heart of Dixie, there are still quite a few who are having a hard time dealing with a black man being President. But...oh well. They're dying out...