Monday, May 12, 2014

On public prayer

Retired Bishop Gene Robinson reflects on the Supreme Court's decision on prayer.
...just because we can,should we? Wouldn’t it be the “Christian” thing to do, to show a bit of generosity of spirit and sensitivity to those whose beliefs differ from our own? If we are going to have public prayers (something worth debating another time), couldn’t they strive to include every person of whatever faith? I tried to do that for the President-elect. I’m still proud of my attempt. Here it is: 
Oh 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. 
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.
If you don't remember it, that was his prayer at the first inauguration of Barack Obama.  Robinson says, "After the prayer, I had numerous Jews and Muslims come to me in tears, saying that never before had they felt a part of such public prayer."

From the other side, not so much.
From conservative Christians I got voluminous hate mail accusing me of missing the opportunity to save souls by invoking the name of Jesus Christ, and judging me to have denied Christ like Peter and betrayed Christ like Judas. As for me, I am not worried about meeting Christ one day and hearing firsthand what he has to say about that prayer.
Because nothing invokes Christ like hate mail.

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