Associated Press photo
Openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson delivers the invocation for the kickoff of the inaugural events on Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
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.
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.
Barack Obama is not a messiah?
Oh, man — now you tell me!
But seriously, as invocations go (I am not a fan of organized religion), I like it.
I don’t agree with all of it — I’m not ready to make nice with the haters who reside within the red states, and to me to say that there are no red states and blue states is to miss obvious facts and truths, or to lie (or to be incredibly optimistically simplistic at best) — but I love the invocations to “bless this nation with anger” and with “discomfort.”
The Repugnicans and the wingnuts have made anger taboo — because anger potentially brings about change, jeopardizes the status quo — and we Americans are so much about comfort (not just physical comfort, but emotional and psychological comfort as well) that we are comforting ourselves to death.
I think that we Americans finally have some humility — the Bush regime has brought the American empire to the brink of ruin to the point that even the worst of the wingnuts aren’t really beating their chests over how we supposedly still are No. 1 — so I don’t know that the bishop had to ask God for that…
I like the idea of “freedom from mere tolerance, replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences,” and clearly the openly gay Episcopal bishop’s invocation for God to “Help [Obama] 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,” was intended to remind Obama that gay is the new black, that there’s still one more historically oppressed minority group that still does not have equal civil and human rights in all 50 states.