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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.


You can get a Winddows Meedia video of Dr.Watkins'sermon at www.nationalcathedral.org
and a text copy at www.disciples.org.

The efficacy of the presidency does not rest upon the oath. According to the Constitution, the presidency changes at noon, with or without an oath.

There is an old maketing term called the "Kellogg's Strategy" that essential means put enough alternatives on the shelf and who cares what the consumer chooses just as long as it is one of your brands. Our spiritual enemy has done the same thing by offering up a plurality of alternative "faiths" to the only one that will get a person into heaven. People will have as much success praying to a Ritz cracker than praying to a false God. Our spiritual enemy(for everyone on this planet)does not care whether you pray, go to a "church". give money to a charity or are a genuine good person AS LONG as you do not give your life to Christ. For if you do not give your life to Christ, HE WINS, period...FOR ETERNITY. It's that simple.

Thank you for letting us know there was at least one Godly man in the group unafraid to invoke the Name of Jesus. Wonder who the others were praying to? They neither addressed the Holy God nor asked in the Name of His Son.

Reminds me of the scriptures at Matt: 10:32 which says "Everyone who acknowledges me before men I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven but whoever denies me before men I will deny before my Father". Christianity was one of the backbones of this country and we should never have to apologize for invoking the name of Jesus.

Rev. Stanley should remember that this is "our" country, regardless of ancestry, creed, and sexual orientation, and not exclusively his Christian country. Our leaders are to serve "us," "We the People," not "exclusively for us, the Christians."

It's fine by me to invoke the name of Jesus at public events, just not in an exclusive, elitist way. Though "through" Jesus Christ raises some fun thoughts.

In my way, I have no intercessors to pray "through," not even through The name of Jesus. It would be praying "through" The Name and not that which is actually Jesus, as Jesus is A PERSON OF THE one God, and therefore isn't an intercessor to pray through to THE God. Jesus IS God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. That's why I call myself a "Protestant." Or maybe "Post-Protestant?" Cuts down on the chain of command as well...lol There isn't one. There is me. There is God, whatever God is. I'm not God, I know what I am, though some things about me I prefer to be ignorant about.

I don't pray "though," I simply pray.

Jesus is A name, after all (my neighbor has that name, and while he's a generally all around great guy, I'm pretty sure Jesus is not God). Praying "through Jesus" would be a sort of name-idolatry to me, praying through a name meant to invoke an authority for one's own purposes, one's good or not so good purposes, rather than to GOD, which I am to understand by my upbringing, is God the Father, the Son Jesus, and the Holy Ghost. Names don't quite mean what they meant a few thousand, or a hundred, years ago, anyway.

I don't live "in the name of" the people who developed effective treatment for my genetic disease. I live because of what they did. They didn't do it for me personally, they are not my personal saviors. They did it for anyone and everyone who might become ill from the disease, and because it was interesting and exciting work, which is its own reward. They were awarded Nobel Prizes and other, much deserved honors, and the fervent thanks of people who may actually have ever heard of them at all, who may not think to be interested in learning about those who saved their lives by their acts. I honor George H. Whipple, George R. Minot and William P. Murphy and others for saving my life from a very horrible, premature death, though the disease still incurable. I do not invoke their names to claim their authority for my purposes and to exclude and marginalize others.

But, if Stanley had said, "I pray through Jesus Christ My Lord," that would still be fine by me. That's what Stanley does, but the prayer wouldn't presume that it's what I do, what any one individual of us do.

"We pray in the name of Jesus" kind of public prayers are exclusive. They're rather deliberately, cold bloodedly and offensively used to steal a public event from an inclusive "us," all of us Americans, and remakes the event into an exclusive, elite club event, an institution run by and for only the people who do what the club does, and which is expected to exclude, ignore or expel those who don't.

I mean, we had quite enough of that, for far too long, with "white privilege." We hardly need a country of "Christian privilege." It may not be racist, but it's certainly looks racist-like.

Privileges are to be earned by individuals, like driver's licenses, and even then, not at the expense of other people's rights. Privileges are not entitled, presumed and claimed. Rights are presumed, entitled and claimed. Rights are not earned. They are a given, and once established, not to be taken away except for cause and by our judicial system. We can demand a trial by ones peers. This is done for the cause of justice, not for any one person or group...even then, not all rights are taken away by We the People's Constitution, ever.

So, Stanley should apologize to the American people for not saying "...through Jesus Christ MY Lord." He can pray though Jesus Christ OUR Lord in his church, but at OUR public event, that becomes offensively smug, dubiously arrogant, greedy and simply anti-American (being anti-American is perfectly legal, up to the point where it's not, of course).

Come to think of it, I'm an American. We don't have "lords." I don't take my hat off and tug my forelock (if I still had one) for anyone (well, except for my barber). We scorn drug "lords" and slum "lords"...so one can understand what us real Americans think of lordships. Why would a minister tacitly compare Jesus to the criminally dangerous and the unprincipled greedy? (I'm writing with smug, faux disingenuousnous to provoke a point to think about.)

Simply because the Bible says Jesus is Lord, doesn't mean that Jesus IS Lord, just that Jesus is authoritatively as Jesus is, which my theological upbringing leads me to understand in some way I'm not sure I could articulate, is the one God; God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost...whatever God is.

I wouldn't presume to know that. I'm not God. I don't care to be God. I can't know God, which is nice, because then I would know everything, and that doesn't sound fun at all. I like finding things, that's how I make a living, finding and preserving information, whatever that is...lol. But perhaps, maybe, I could know of God whatever God is.

I can know, somewhat imperfectly, what the Bible authoritatively, not inerrantly, says of Jesus, but as to "Lord Jesus," maybe "Lord" is an obsolete paradigm and we have other ones that suit my time and place much closer and in a more meaningful way.

I'm pretty confident that I'm not God, and would discourage you from thinking otherwise...lol.

Authoritatively Jesus is not to be confused with authoritarianly Jesus, the Jesus who better be your god as I arrogantly proclaim, in Jesus' name, what that authoritarian god is and is not.

Except for the eyebrow raising biblio-idolatry, to my jaundiced eye anyway, Stanley's church has a nicely designed website. Some of us old fogies, though, prefer to read, rather than view. It's much quicker. Time is not on our side, and Stanley is of only casual interest to me anyway. I mean, just look at that prayer...such a shame.

So What Happened at the Prayer Service? 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.

It should be noted that on the Whitehouse.gov website under religious policies we are being asked not to speak in the name of Jesus, even though this is not the exact wording the intent is the same. We are being asked to keep religious conversation in a universal tone. Must we all be reminded that we shall ask in the Name of Jesus?

Why is this important,
Jhn 16:23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

Jhn 16:24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

Jhn 16:26 In that day you will ask in my name.

Mat 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

Mat 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.