I am sitting on the couch watching the inauguration coverage and fighting a pervasive sense of cynicism. Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely delighted that we now have a President Obama--and proud that he is from my home state. I can only imagine where we will go with his leadership and therein I pause...I cannot help but think about General Convention 2006 in the Episcopal Church in which we elected a female presiding bishop and in the next breath asked the GLBT community to wait with patience as our elected leadership embraced moderation at our expense. Yes, I can understand that there are bigger and more pressing issues than the human rights of a minority--yet, as a member of that minority I find that the worries that invade my thoughts each day (I am your quintessential worrywart) have more to do with our lack of legal recognition as a couple than whether or not the Evangelical right wing feels included. I have begun to grow increasingly frustrated that the desire to offer an umbrella for all so often leaves GLBT folk in the rain. Yes, I embrace the via media but I also base my faith on my belief in a God who understands our suffering and loves us all. And, I find that the via media as it is lived into in this time and place is too often a code phrase for "status quo" and silence in the face of oppression. I am incredibly thankful that God is not a God of the via media but is a God who does not compromise in the face of suffering or limit the bounds of belovedness for all of creation. And in honor of that God--our God of limitless possibility and many understandings I include here the full text of the Right Reverend Gene Robinson's prayer at the opening of the inaugural events.
Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009
Delivered by the Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson:
"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.
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