Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Second Thoughts About the Inaugural Prayer Service

Okay, last week I expressed my concerns regarding prayers at presidential inaugurations and religion (specifically Christianity) being used by politicians for political purposes. Then I found out that the General Minister of my own denomination was preaching at the inaugural prayer service at the Nathional Cathedral! I maintain my concerns about church and state mixing and the church keeping enough of its distance to speak prophetically to the nation, but if there has to be a prayer service--this one is better than most.

First off, although it is at the National Cathedral and in essence a Christian service, it does include a broad array of Christian leaders from many denominations, as well as--and this is important--Jewish, Muslim and Christian spiritual leaders. (Take a look at the worship bulletin.) We are not just a nation of Christians but rather a nation of many religions. If people of different faiths cannot find a way to live together in America, where is it possible? That's another reason I object to all these Christian ministers running around at government events--they do not speak for everyone in our nation. If I wish to love my neighbors, then I must also love my non-Christian neighbors and make sure they are included in the important national ceremonies of our nation.

Second, what Sharon Watkins, our Disciples General Minister, says in her sermon is very good. It is appropriately respectful, but it is also challenging. She reminds the president and all of us that we have a choice as to whether we will choose the path of forgiveness, grace, charity and love or the path of violence, revenge, selfishness and hatred.

You can read her sermon on-line or watch the service on-line.

Grace and Peace,


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