Friday, January 16, 2009

Keep the Christ in Your Prayer

Preachers will be put on the spot this week as the nation's eyes turn to Washington D.C. for the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States. I have three questions for you as you watch the pomp and circumstance:

1. Is there a role for prayer at these events?

2. What would you say if you were asked to pray, out loud, for everyone to hear?

3. Would you pray in the name of Christ?

The latest person given the inaugural prayer ball is the Rev. Joseph Lowery.

According to Kathy Lohr at NPR,
"Lowery co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr...

Obama's decision to select Rick Warren, a high-profile megachurch pastor who opposes gay marriage, to give the invocation has upset some supporters. But Lowery defends the decision and calls it part of the president-elect's promise to include people with differing political and religious views.

'Oh, I don't think it hurts. I think it'll pass,' Lowery says of the brouhaha. 'I think it'll even pass before the ceremony is over.'

'And I hope that in my closing prayer, I can find a way to inspire people to take that spirit, that warmth — that feeling of conviviality and brotherhood — and take it with us back down into the valley,' Lowery says."

You may have also read about the pregame analysis of Rick Warren and Gene Robinson's scheduled prayer times.
If not, here is one side of the story,
From Yahoo News: The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, who was elected the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop in 2003, will deliver the invocation for Sunday’s kickoff inaugural event on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the Presidential Inaugural Committee said.

President-elect Obama is scheduled to attend the afternoon event, which is free and open to the public.

“The president-elect has respect for the Rt. Rev. Robinson, who offered his advice and counsel over the past couple of years,” an inaugural official said. “It also has the benefit of further reinforcing our commitment to an open and inclusive inaugural.”

Robinson remains the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay civil rights organization, said in a statement that the choice was "encouraging."

“Bishop Robinson models what prayer should be — spiritual reflection put into action for justice," Solmonese said. "It is encouraging that the president-elect has chosen this spiritual hero, and that should remain our focus today."

Many of Obama’s supporters were furious at the choice of Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor and best-selling author, to deliver the invocation at the swearing-in ceremony.

Warren had endorsed California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, with a statement saying: “There is no reason to change the universal, historical definition of marriage to appease 2 percent of our population.”

The furor has been Obama’s biggest clash with his party’s left wing since he was elected.

An Obama source said: “Robinson was in the plans before the complaints about Rick Warren. Many skeptics will read this as a direct reaction to the Warren criticism — but it’s just not so.”

Last summer, Robinson was united in a civil union with his longtime gay partner. The Concord (N.H.) Monitor reported at the time: “The day marked the five-year anniversary of the New Hampshire election that, once ratified, made Robinson the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican church.”

Robinson’s bio on the diocese website says: “Gene enjoys entertaining and cooking, gardening, music and theater. He is the father of two grown daughters and the proud grandfather of two granddaughters. He lives with his partner, Mark Andrew, who is employed by the State of New Hampshire's Department of Safety.”

Kinda makes one proud to be an Episcopalian doesn't it. Forget the matter of his divorce or some of his stranger statements...

Next, from The AP
"Robinson, 61, said both Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden will attend the event, and Obama is expected to speak. As for himself, Robinson said he doesn't yet know what he'll say, but he knows he won't use a Bible.

"While that is a holy and sacred text to me, it is not for many Americans," Robinson said. "I will be careful not to be especially Christian in my prayer. This is a prayer for the whole nation."

Robinson said his prayer will be reflective of the times.

"I think these are sober and difficult times that we are facing," he said. "It won't be a happy, clappy prayer."

It will be interesting to see how the game plays out, and it raises three more questions.

1. Will the Rev. Joseph Lowery bash Bush again?

2. Will Rick Warren's prayer include the "J" word?

3.Will Gene Robinson include the "g" word?

After reading Gene Robinson's latest comments I suspect he will talk about his "dream" rather than what the Bible has to say:

"I am writing to tell you that President-Elect Obama and the Inaugural Committee have invited me to give the invocation at the opening event of the Inaugural Week activities, 'We are One,' to be held at the Lincoln Memorial, Sunday, January 18, at 2:00 pm. It will be an enormous honor to offer prayers for the country and the new president, standing on the holy ground where the 'I have a dream speech' was delivered by Dr. King, surrounded by the inspiring and reconciling words of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. It is also an indication of the new president’s commitment to being the President of ALL the people. I am humbled and overjoyed at this invitation, and it will be my great honor to be there representing the Episcopal Church, the people of New Hampshire, and all of us in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

I have a problem with what Bishop Robinson said in the pregame warm ups, but I will be "careful to be especially Christian" in my response. Except to say, that such statements put me in the same uncomfortable place as Auntie Em was in when facing Elvira Gulch.

Just pray three times, There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home in the Episcopal Church.


  1. Bishop Robinson's prayer got cut out by Murphey's god who stepped on the microphone cable, and as a result, no one heard the prayer. Listen to Baby Blue's pod cast

    He should of used the Bible.

  2. After having a chance to read Bishop Robinson's prayer to the god of our many understandings, and listening to Rev. Lowery pray for the mellow yellow etc, we have a winner. Rick Warren! He worked in the "J" word

    Maybe if Bishop Robinson had been honest and prayed to the gods of our many misunderstandings, and left out his personal agenda (he did use the "g" word) he would have scored higher.

  3. Cherrie Wetzel has a good piece over at

  4. Indeed Robert+,

    here is the link to the post AnglicansUnited.