Once a year, for the past decade, I have given the invocation in our State Senate or House of Representatives in Olympia. The closest I’ve ever come to offering a prayer over a U.S. president took place when our family lived in the Land of Lincoln. To delight, I was invited to give the opening prayer in the chambers of the Illinois State Senate.
When I referenced the Chicago Cubs in my invocation, I had no idea that one of those listening to my prayer would be elected president within several years. I also was unaware that as a Southsider, Barack Obama was a Chicago White Sox fan.
I doubt I’m the only person of the cloth who has ever pictured what it would be like to be clothed with the privilege of praying at the inauguration of a new president. All the same, it doesn’t take an invitation from POTUS to seek the face of the creator on behalf of our commander in chief.
Almighty God, in this pivotal season in the history of our nation, we come before you with gratitude and anticipation. Thank you, sovereign Lord, for a glimmer of light in the corridor of darkness that has defined the past year. For the long-awaited vaccine, we give you thanks. Please make the distribution of it efficient and its impact efficacious. Temper our enthusiastic hopes with guarded realism as we give ourselves permission to picture a more normal way of life.
As we inaugurate our 46th president, we celebrate a peaceful transition of power. It is our desire, oh God, that divisions among us would morph into a spirit of cooperation, compromise and unity. Would you orchestrate the soundtrack of our lives so that the symphony of unity and cooperation will once again be heard in the chambers of Congress? Would you cause the hallways and mess halls of office buildings on Capitol Hill to be abuzz with the sounds of civility, friendship and laughter?
We are grateful that the one we elected to serve us for the next four years is one who takes his faith seriously. Cover Joseph R. Biden with your hand of protection. Grant him health and energy for the task before him. Infuse him with skillful insight and measured determination to face the challenges that await. Give him wisdom. Guard his heart. Guide his choices. Strengthen his resolve to resist temptations to short-circuit the lengthy and cumbersome process of bi-partisan engagement. Imbue him with patience to trust the DNA of our democracy.
God, bless America. Not because we deserve your blessings, but because we stand in need of that which you alone can provide: forgiveness for past wrongs, a sense of your presence today and faith in what the future holds.
In the meantime, would you teach us how to balance the virtues of unconditional tolerance and unconditional love with the conditions and consequences associated with your principles and your blessings?
Remind us once again that the direction of our nation is not as dependent on the one who inhabits the White House as it is on those who live in our homes.
Remind us, as well, of the lessons we learned this past year in the vice grip of the virus. May we never forget how much more meaningful relationships are in comparison to riches. Or how much more valuable opportunities are when compared to objects that gather dust or start to rust. Or how fragile health is even in a country marked by world-class medical care.
Lord, would you give us the courage we need to make necessary changes in worn out routines and self-destructive patterns of behavior. Continue to be our help and our hope for our good and your glory. This we pray in your holy name. Amen.