Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Gene Robinson's Prayer

Both before and after the inauguration, there was lots of discussion regarding Rick Warren's prayer. I knew that Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopalian bishop gave the prayer at the We Are One concert. I heard some controversy that HBO didn't include the prayer in their broadcast and I guess FOX didn't even mention it in the coverage, but I hadn't found the text of the prayer until today when I ran across it at Rabbi Rami's blog. Thank you Rami for making it easy for me to find.

I should say that I have real issues with prayers given at events like this. I'm not sure they are ever proper. They certainly are not if they just underscore nationalism and militarism as all too many do. All to many are either milquetoast or they just underscore the status quo... there is no place anywhere for prayers like that. Well, here is Bishop Robinson's prayer. It is a prayer that could be and should be prayed in places of power. It is a prayer that calls us all to be what we are called to be as God's children. It is a prayer that I join in praying with all my heart.

“O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears — tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women in many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless this nation with anger — 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 our 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 as a nation 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 bless us with compassion and generosity - remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable.

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, inspire him with President Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for all people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain.

Give him stirring words — 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 States.

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 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 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.




Toni Ertl said...

It seems a very mixed prayer, and one that one might expect to be prayed by someone who has decided that homosexual practice is right. Yes, there are some very good bits. But it still says "my perspective is THE correct one".

roy said...

Obviously he has a theological position about homosexuality... but I think the prayer more reflects a theology about human rights. It is interesting that in the US even very conservative groups like the Mormons are arguing that they support full rights for homosexual people, including non-discrimination in almost every arena of life, just not marriage.

As for it saying, "my perspective is THE correct one," that is why I'm concerned about prayers in that kind of setting. It seems to me that any prayer worth its salt has to reflect that perspective. It must flow from the soul of the person praying, right? So it must reflect their perspective even though some perspectives (Robinsons) are broader than others (Warren).