January 22, 2009
So What Happened at the Prayer Service?
The prayer service at the National Cathedral Wednesday morning was a very sober and interfaith as expected as President Obama prepared to launch into his first full day as president. I guess first full day depends on the efficacy of the first oath or second.
Andy Stanley, founding pastor of North Point Community Church in Georgia, was the only religious leader to invoke Jesus' name, as the rest of the service was very interfaith oriented. Here is Stanley's prayer:
Gracious God, whose glory is in all the world:
We commend this nation to your merciful care that, being guided by your Providence,
we may dwell secure in your peace.
Grant to Barack Obama, President of the United States,
and to all in authority, your grace and good will.
Bless them with your heavenly gifts.
Give them wisdom and strength to know and do your will.
Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness,
and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve the people of this land in honor of you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
A children's choir broke a sober mood by getting Obama and the crowd to join in singing "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands." Ironically, earlier this week, Mollie at GetReligion told me that she saw someone with a t-shirt of Obama holding the earth with the same song title underneath. Speaking of Mollie, I'd like to one-up her; she sat in front of Beyonce at the inauguration, but I shook Bill Clinton's hand this morning.
Back to the service, Sharon Watkins gave a sermon directed at President Obama. "Someone has to keep watch and be ready to defend, and Mr. President ? Tag! You're it!" she said, drawing laughter.
Her sermon focused on reasoning from an ethical center based on loving God and loving your neighbor.
"In times, such as these, we the people need you, the leaders of this nation, to be guided by the counsel that Isaiah gave so long ago, to work for the common good, for the public happiness, the well-being of the nation and the world, knowing that our individual wellbeing depends upon a world in which liberty and justice prevail," Watkins preached. "This is the biblical way. It is also the American way - to believe in something bigger than ourselves, to reach out to neighbor to build communities of possibility, of liberty and justice for all."
The rest of the event was scripted and can be found in the program here, but here are some other prayers:
Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, prayed the following:
May the Senators, members of the House of Representatives and all those whom we entrust to make our laws be filled with the courage and foresight to provide for the needs of our people, to care for our natural resources, and to fulfill our obligations in the community of nations.
Keep this nation under your care,
And guide us in the way of justice and truth.
Kirbyjon Caldwell, senior pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church prayed the following:
Grant us the wisdom and will to learn from those who have paved the path of our nation's history. Give us patience and endurance in these extraordinary times that we may build with steadfast labor upon the foundation laid for us in every generation. Make us a testament for good that we may be a beacon for liberty and a source of light in the world.
Send me a link if you see a video of Watkin's address; otherwise, I will post my amateur one when it's finished downloading. I also plan to post more interviews tomorrow once they are transcribed.