Sunday, February 19, 2006

Being coy with political figures
For the record, I mean "coy" in the sense of "artful playfulness". Recently I was asked to lead the opening invocation and concluding blessing at a fundraising dinner for a political party in a nearby county. For the record, I was not asked because I am active in local political parties. I am not. In a roundabout way, the event organizer came across my name and gave me a call. I am not going to mention which party made the invitation, though you will probably be able to figure that out from the theme woven throughout the prayer. I am trying to stay away from mentioning the party for two reasons: (1) I don't want people to get sidelined into political party battles when that is not the purpose of this post; and, (2) To be honest, I probably would have accepted an invitation from either major party to lead them in prayer and I would have used the same prayer. My own political affiliation is not the point of this post. When I accepted this particular party's invitation to lead them in prayer, I did so not to broadcast my own political affiliation, but to broadcast Christ, precisely in a venue where he needs to be invoked and heard. There is the disclaimer. If you want to comment on the prayer I wrote, please do so, but please do not begin a diatribe about political parties.

Here is the prayer I wrote for the opening invocation:

"Almighty God and Father of us all,
We gather at this annual recollection of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, a good man and a great President. He became President at a time of great division and national turmoil. But his faith, his skill, and his effort brought healing, decency, and a better Republic.

Help each of us here to aspire to greatness in this life and the life to come. May we remember that greatness comes first from a basic goodness.
A goodness that protects, promotes, and defends the inalienable right to life of every human being;
A goodness that recognizes the economy should serve the dignity of the human person and not the other way around;
A goodness that seeks Truth, Beauty, and Peace.

Bless each of us present and graciously bestow your blessing on this meal. Like Abraham Lincoln may our faith, our skill, and our effort bring about a unified, more decent, and better Republic. May we have the courage to allow our faith and authentic human values to be visible in our public lives. And may our life here prepare us for the Kingdom that has no end.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, your only Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen."

In the crafting of that prayer, there were a couple of points where I was giggling with puckish glee as I thought about political figures hearing those words. Fr. Tharp thought it was a good prayer and that it dumped good issues in the laps of the hearers. [Monkey screeching inserted here!]

For the closing blessing, I was introduced by our State's Lt. Governor. As I drove home I thought, "I was introduced to a crowd by the Lt. Governor. Not bad for a day's priestly work!"

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