Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman

Gene Robinson’s Historic Prayer

Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal church, gave the opening prayer at the beginning of the inaugural festivities at the Lincoln Memorial. Below is the transcript and a YouTube video In the next day I’ll also be posting an interesting interview I had with Robinson Monday, in which he discussed what it was like to deliver this prayer, his conversations with Obama about it, and his new, concilliatory thoughts about Rick Warren.The prayer:

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.


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posted January 19, 2009 at 5:24 pm

A moving moment, indeed.
Too bad that some stations, like HBO, did not broadcast Gene Robinson’s potion of the inaugural festivities.
Imagine being a Jewish person, an African-American person, an Asian person, and tuning in to watch a member of your people taking a prominent role in such a historic event… only to realize they had been cut out, as if they had not even been there.
That was the reality for millions of LGBT people yesterday.
But Gene Robinson was there. It did happen. I choose to focus on that truth, and hope that the despicable actions of such broadcasters are a death-rattle in the throats of bigotry everywhere.

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posted January 19, 2009 at 7:01 pm

I’m just waiting for the inevitable raging of the far right against Robinson daring to place LGBT people on the same level as “refugees and immigrants, women, people of color”.

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Your Name

posted January 19, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Thank you Steven Waldman for printing Bishop Robinson’s prayer for Obama and the nation. Thank you YouTube for taking a video and recording Bishop Robinson’s prayer. The GLBT were disappointed not to see Bishop Robinson and hear his prayer, and also the Gay Men’s Choir on HBO. Their families and friends were also disappointed. It doesn’t feel diverse if you aren’t even noticed after you’ve done your best. The major newspapers and the on-line major news also took no notice of the Bishop or the Men’s Choir. A thorn to all of them.

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posted January 19, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Forgot to put name.

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posted January 19, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Think Robinson covered everything in that prayer. :o) Is good. For those that didn’t bother to cover the event…a pox on them.

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posted January 20, 2009 at 12:07 am

Obama’s staff have arranged to have the video of the entire concert with Rev Robinson prayer playing on the mall tomorrow. They are trying to make-up for it not being on HBO. Plus there were speakers out yesterday that prevented many people from hear the prayer.

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non-metaphysical stephen

posted January 20, 2009 at 1:29 am

I’m grateful for the people who elected him bishop — how wonderfully democratic!

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posted January 21, 2009 at 11:11 am

This was a beautiful prayer. Last night someone at our meditation group read it as a metta ending blessing. We usually don’t include the name God in our metta , so it was interesting. Not so sure I believe in God, as a Supreme being but rather as We are all God together, everything is God.

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