Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bishop Gene Robinson's Invocation at Obama's Inauguration Kick-Off Event

Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt. Rev Gene Robinson (pictured at right), delivered the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration kickoff event, “We Are One,” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial yesterday.

Bishop Robinson is the first openly gay, non-celibate priest to be ordained a bishop in a major Christian denomination believing in the historic episcopate. His presence and participation in Obama’s inauguration is thus significant, and a balance to the presence of the anti-gay Rick Warren, founder of the evangelical megachurch, Saddleback Church, in California. Warren was a vocal supporter of California Proposition 8, which amended the California Supreme Court’s ruling that gay marriage is constitutionally permissible. His invitation to give the invocation at Obama’s inauguration ceremony upset and outraged many people - gay and straight.

In the January 15 article at BlackCommentator.com, Rev. Irene Monroe shares the following:

While many feel the selection of Robinson is to placate the queer community, Robinson, however, opines differently about it. In an e-mail to a friend, Robinson wrote, “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 . . . 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.”

Rev. Monroe goes on to write that:

For King, justice was more than a racial issue, more than a legal or moral issue. Justice was a human issue. And this was evident in King’s passionate concern about a wide range of concerns. “The revolution for human rights is opening up unhealthy areas in American life and permitting a new and wholesome healing to take place,” King once told a racially-mixed audience. “Eventually the civil rights movement will have contributed infinitely more to the nation than the eradication of racial injustice.”

Amen, sister.

Following is the text of Bishop Gene Robinson’s invocation at Barack Obama’s “We Are One” inaugural event.


A Prayer for the Nation
and Our Next President, Barack Obama

By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson,
Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

Opening Inaugural Event

Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009

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.


Recommended Off-site Links:
Obama’s Inauguration and Black LGBTQ Americans - Rev. Irene Monroe (BlackCommentator.com, January 15, 2009).
Obama Cool and Calm on Eve of His Presidency - Charles Babington (Associated Press, January 29, 2009).
The Speech President Obama Should Deliver . . . But Won’t - David Korten (Yes! Magazine, January 19, 2009).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Same Premise
Somewhere in Between

1 comment:

kevin57 said...

This is a beautiful prayer. As humble as it is eloquent.