Inauguration Prayer

January 20, 2017

Inaugurations are regular and important events in our national life. They mark the uniquely American method of the transfer of presidential power. Every four years since 1789 there has been a presidential inauguration. Some have been somber occasions, some have been joyful. But they are all significant.

Each inauguration is typically the result of an election, the exception being when a president dies in office.  And elections mean that one party won and one party lost. Some years this is a source of more distress than others. In my personal memory, there is more angst and anger and fear surrounding this inauguration than previous inaugurations.

There are people who are afraid. They are afraid based on comments from the President elect himself. There are people who are worried. They are worried based on the behavior of the President elect. There are people who are concerned. They are concerned at who they see making up the President’s cabinet and close advisors. I find myself among these afraid, worried, and concerned people.

One of the things Christians are called to do is pray. And the most difficult command of Jesus is to love our enemies. Part of fulfilling that command involves praying for our enemies, or those whom we believe are our enemies. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that is a hard prayer to pray well.

Praying, “God fix *insert name here*.” Is not, I think, the best prayer. I know this because I have spent plenty of time praying prayers like it.

So here, for what it is worth, is my attempt at a “better” prayer for President Trump. I need to write it out because this is a difficult prayer for me to pray. I need to think hard about what to say and how I say it. It will take a lot of practice before this prayer will come easily to me.

Holy One,

This is a difficult prayer for me, and honestly, right now my heart is not in it. I am trying to be obedient to your command.  I am angry and worried and sad about Mr. Trump’s presidency and I confess a big part of me does not want to pray for him. I would, however, be glad to pray against him. Being petty and mean come more easily than love and grace.  Forgive me. Help me to do better.

Please give Mr. Trump wisdom, compassion, and insight. Help him to discern our common good and to work for it. Grant him a heart and mind that longs for justice and peace. Help him to foster true unity, to encourage all of us in acts of kindness, and to call us to work for justice. Give his advisors wisdom and intelligence and the ability to speak the truth to the President. Help them to advocate for all citizens.

Grant our leadership a broad, inclusive vision for our nation and our world. A vision based not on fear and profit but justice and peace- where there is access to food and shelter for all, where work pays a living wage, access to education and health care for all. Help us all to work toward a nation where every child can dream and then are able to pursue their dream.

Lord give me the humility and courage to support Mr. Trump when he works for good. Give me the courage and strength to oppose Mr. Trump when circumstances require it.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage for the living of these days.

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen




January 15, 2017

Several years ago I made the only New Year’s resolution I ever kept- to stop making New Year’s resolutions. That resolution made life much simpler. I’m old enough to know the things I need to do and honestly, I don’t need to put more  pressure on myself.

A year or two ago, I had begun reading about people choosing a word for their year. A word to ponder and to guide. A word to open possibilities. A word rather than a resolution.

Then, in God’s amusing way, while attending worship at a church where I was leading an adult education class, I received a word. Everyone in the congregation chose a word from a basket of words on star shaped slips of paper. My word was “Playfulness” which I thought was silly. I was expecting something a little more, well, holy. Or serious. Or profound.

But I took my word home and thought about it. I realized over the past few years, for some very good reasons, there was very little playfulness in my life. Maybe it was time to regain some playfulness. While life didn’t become a barrel of laughs, the word “playfulness” would come to mind when I was about to dismiss something as silly or trivial. I was reminded that the silly and trivial have a place in life, as does fun. So I tried to do more playful things. Nothing dramatic but I did try to be open to play. I tried to notice and appreciate all the times I laughed during the year.

“Playfulness” turned out to be a very good word for me. God is playful like that.

This year I wasn’t at the church that gave me the word. I thought about the value of the word I received and decided to look for a word for this year. A few words came to mind.

First I thought of “presence”, which is an increasingly important part of what I do in life and in my work. But “presence” seemed a little too passive as a guiding word. Then I considered “show up”, which I know is two words, but seemed closer to the mark. But I have shown up at plenty of times and not really been present. Then,  my word revealed itself- Attend.

Attend captures several important ideas for me.

In the Orthodox Church, before the reading of the gospel, the congregation is charged to “attend”. Pay attention, listen carefully, obey! As I read the Bible this year, I will endeavor to attend.

“Attend” also suggests a certain type of “presence”. A presence with more focus and less distraction. A reminder not to multi task!

And “attend” returns me to “show up”. It is easy for me, especially when it is dark and cold as Michigan winters are, to stay home. To retreat into comfort and security. Comfort and security are necessary things. But I also need to get out, and to show up for people and causes that matter to me.

2017, the year I “attend”. Pay attention, be present, show up.

If you are so inclined, share your word with us in the comments.

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