In my last post, I posed the question about the appropriateness of the content of Rick Warren’s invocation. Now we come to the benediction of Joseph Lowery, United Methodist pastor. You can read the entire text here.
I found myself laughing through my tears at this lovely prayer. The tears came the minute I recognized his first words as the lyrics of the great hymn, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a song that is especially dear to those who lived through the Civil Rights Era. More tears flowed as I thought of what this one man has seen in his life – marches, assassinations of friends and colleagues, imprisonment, police dogs. And the laughter of joy came when I realized what Lowery must have seen right at that moment, looking out over the mall filled with people come to see a fellow African-American, seated at his right, invested with the power of the highest office in the land.
Here is my favorite part:
And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.
And as we leave this mountain top, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques or wherever we seek your will.
Bless President Barack, first lady Michelle. Look over our little angelic Sasha and Malia.
We go now to walk together as children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone.
With your hands of power and your heart of love, help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid, when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.
What do you think? Did you – as I did – like that he named the houses of worship of several faiths? Did you hope he would pray in Jesus’ name, or did you approve of the fact that he called only on “the Lord”? Was his quotation from a Christian hymn okay for you?