A Wonderful Prayer

A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama

By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first,
please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our
nation and our next president
.

O 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, and an
understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

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.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s
reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our
best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and
motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to
facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his
leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United
States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that
experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of
those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him
remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot
at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our
presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk
he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good
and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand –
that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find
joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us
as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.

AMEN.

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