Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Prayer for the Nation ...

Photos from USA Today:
(by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters):

As reported in The Boston Globe
(Photos by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters):

In the invocation offered by Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire at today's inaugural welcoming ceremony, the openly gay bishop called on God to "bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people." Robinson was tapped to give the invocation today after an uproar over President-elect Barack Obama's invitation to evangelical pastor Rick Warren, an opponent of same-sex marriage, to give the invocation during the inauguration Tuesday.

Here is the full text of the prayer, from Robinson's diocesan web site:

"A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama"
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

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 AIDS.

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 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 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.

And ...
The Associated Press -- The event began with a convocation by the Right Rev. Gene Robinson, who asked the crowd to pray for "understanding that our president is a human being and not a messiah."
Detroit Free Press -- “God, we give you thanks for your child Barack,” the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, said during the event invocation. “Give him wisdom beyond his years. Give him strength to find family time and privacy ... Please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we know we are asking far too much of him."
Robinson’s prayers seemed to touch the sentiments of many of the tens of thousands who began gathering at dawn to see Obama and star-studded concert called We are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.
Houston Chronicle-- In the end, the Obamas celebrated familial normalcy on the grandest of stages, reveling in the bond that Rev. V. Gene Robinson sought for them during his invocation at the start of the show. “Help (President-elect Obama) remember that even though he is president,” Robinson prayed, “a father only gets one shot at his daughter’s childhood.”
USA Today -- Robinson asked God to give Obama wisdom, a "quiet heart" and "stirring words" to inspire the nation in a time of challenge and sacrifice. He concluded by imploring a "good and great God" to keep Obama safe to do his work and "find joy in this impossible calling..." Did you pray along? To whom? Share your prayer here.


Erp said...

Before we get too upset at HBO, I wonder whether in previous inaugural concerts (a) whether there was an invocation and (b) whether it was televised?

It could be that no one at HBO considered anyone would ever want to watch the invocation ever and so they just cut it.

Remember also these invocations/benedictions whether by Robinson or Warren are just window dressing. Most people want to hear Obama and unless Rick Warren says something outrageous most people will forget him and it as soon as it is said. Note also that the small group who consider Robinson the devil's emissary won't remember he wasn't heard, but, just that he was invited.

mimi said...

I was very disappointed that HBO did not show the prayer. I have emailed them to register my disappointment.


John said...

It's very disappointing that HBO did not show Bishop Robinson in any of their broadcasts. Somehow, I doubt that Tuesday's invocation will meet the same fate. Sad.

I heard from a good friend that the invocation was carried by NPR, but they don't have an online archive.

Luckily, Someone from Christianity Today was in the audience and posted video to YouTube. Watch it there and then thank them.

David and John said...

It's too late to not be "upset" with HBO.

It was absolutely groundbreaking for the first openly gay Bishop to be the first openly gay clergy-person to give the invocation at an "official" inaguration event. HBO chose not to cover it, but it's a funny thing to me that they seem all too eager to give GLBT folks plenty of air-time when it comes to, for example, some sordid scene in OZ.

FYI: The gay men's chorus was not named on-screen like other singers were on HBO. Was this just a simple oversight? I don't think so.

As much as I hate to say it, so far the only thing the GLBT community has gained through all this is a little lip service via a "shout out" from president-elect Obama. Well, that is not going to cut it with me any longer.

I am tired of being patted on the back and patronized by people who talk alot about equal rights for all, and then turn around and do otherwise. You can be assured that the Obama team was working closely with HBO on this event, so therefore they must share a certain percentage of the blame.

David and John said...

This just in: It is being reported in several places that HBO has responded to the outrage over Bishop Robinson's exclusion by explaining the decision to not include his prayer was made by the Obama team and not HBO.

I pray this is not the case.

Rory said...

Contacted Sunday night by concerning the exclusion of Robinson's prayer, HBO said via email, "The producer of the concert has said that the Presidential Inaugural Committee made the decision to keep the invocation as part of the pre-show." has also contacted the inaugural committee for a statement and awaits their response.

Brother David said...

The speakers were turned on for the throng gathered, and they listened and said Amen. Christianity Today posted the prayer on YouTube;
Gene Robinson's Prayer Kicks off Inaugural Events

Anonymous said...

I agree - I was extremely disappointed as well. And what a wonderful prayer it was! Would have been nice for us all to hear.

bob said...

Sometimes we are blessed by silence. God knows what is best for us, wot? Isn't all he did was do the usual "prayer" of the liberal; tell God what he already knows and inform him as to what he needs to do about it?

IT said...

It['s a pattern:

1. GLBT community dissed
2. Obama-ites say "sorry, we'll do better next time. Trust us, really."


Plus ça changes...