Focus on the Family: Invocation Trepidation Part II
I have played and replayed the inaugural prayers of openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson, conservative evangelical Reverend Rick Warren, and Civil Rights icon Reverend Joseph Lawery.
I appreciated parts of each man’s words. Robinson spoke beautifully of inclusion and brought to mind those otherwise marginalized in societies across the world and in our own. Warren’s was uplifting and seemed sincere (though he spoke so loudly I wondered if he didn’t realize he had a microphone on). Lowery's mere presence was stirring, and his rhyming conclusion was hilarious for those of us "mellow" enough to take it as a joke.
Though I think the words of each were earnest, I did not feel that any prayer was, in it’s strictest sense, much of a prayer at all, but more of a speech to the crowd sometimes redirected at God.
Furthermore, in parsing through the prayers, it was difficult for me to untangle each man’s words from his religious/political platform.
Evangelist Tony Campolo once warned that mixing the church and the state is dangerous, not because it ruins the state, but rather because it compromises the church. Perhaps this was Jesus’ thinking when he taught his disciples to pray in private, going into their rooms and closing the door (Matthew 6).
History shows that the church is its strongest and most vibrant not when it is the dominant way of life but rather the underground movement. It thrives and spreads in singular acts, done by one person for another. It is represented best when one person’s actions speak Jesus’ all-encompassing love, not when one makes grand political gestures or when trite phrases are printed on bills en masse.
This gets a little touchy-feely, even for me. But frankly, I think we need to reconsider: how (or maybe more importantly: if) we want to be represented on such a stage. Are our beliefs about projection? being right? strong-arming? grand gestures?
Or are they about loving people well, individually, for no other reason than to mimic the love of their Creator?