Wednesday, January 21, 2009

THE NATIONAL PRAYER?

On January 20, 2009, the inauguration of Barack Obama was capped off with a prayer. The idea that a prayer is still included on the political stage should cause every Christian to perk up and take hope. And we ought to be able to say 'Amen, That's right' to such a prayer. And to most of the prayer, I could, but the last part is irreverent and too political. I couldn't say amen to it and here is the content of that prayer:
Rev. Lowery Inauguration benediction. Transcript.
By Lynn Sweet on January 20, 2009 1:04 PM
Transcript courtesy Federal News Service

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand -- true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we've shared this day. We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration. He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and, indeed, the global fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hand, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you're able and you're willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed -- the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- (laughter) -- when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) -- and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen!

REV. LOWERY: Say amen --

AUDIENCE: Amen!

REV. LOWERY: -- and amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen! (Cheers, applause.)

END.

On the good side, that people in high office still permit any kind of prayer to be uttered in public is amazing and a good thing. The same thing would hardly be permitted at a high school graduation. And the Bible reminds us how important it is for the country and its leaders to be prayed for. Paul wrote to Timothy,
"1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity" (1 Tim. 2:1,2).
And when Rev. Lowery said, "We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration", it was correct to think of Mr. Obama as the servant. We should all pray that he will indeed strive to be God's minister for justice. These things are positive. But now for the bad.

The prayer was not addressed to Yahweh and it was not offered through Jesus Christ. According to Paul, there is only one mediator between man and God, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5). I understand that it is popular to offer generic prayers so as not to offend religious folks who don't believe in Jesus Christ. And to further show the generic nature of his prayer, the Rev. Lowery said the following in his prayer: "Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will." Mosque? Temples? Is the Reverend a Christian? Does He believe that God dwells in these places? Does the Reverend believe that Muslims are doing God's will? Does the Reverend believe that the non-believing Jews are doing God's will? The prayer is a compromise and failed to give glory to Christ. I couldn't say 'Amen' to that prayer.

And what about the cute little rhyme? Is that appropriate when speaking to the Almighty? He said (the laughter and applause are accurate editor additions accurately showing the audience response to the prayer), "Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- (laughter) -- when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) -- and when white will embrace what is right." Maye it's just me, but it was irreverent and too political for being addressed to God. I would think that a prayer to God, being uttered at such a momentous event, would have taken a higher tone.
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Link: Chicago Sun Times story and comments.

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