In one of the most anticipated invocations ever, the controversial pastor managed to offer a prayer that was broadly inclusive yet true to his faith. There many other interesting bits worthy of detaild fisking
Let Us Pray:Almighty God, Our Father, everything we see and everything we can’t see exists because of You alone. It all comes from You, it all belongs to You, it all exists for Your glory. History is your story.
–This is central theme of Purpose Driven Life, his bestselling book. It’s about God, not you. “History is your story” is an understated way of reminding believers that God is in charge.
The Scripture tells us, ‘Hear, oh Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one’
–Interestingly, this is the English translation of the Sh’ma, the most important prayer of the Jewish faith. It’s a nice, subtle welcome to Jews.
and You are the compassionate and merciful one and You are loving to everyone You have made.The phrase “compassionate and merciful” is highly evocative of Muslim prayers.
Now today we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 43rd time, we celebrate a hinge-point of history with the inauguration of our first African American president of the United States. We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African Immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.
–I happened to be standing on the mall in a group of mostly African Americans, who were responding to Warren throughout with yells of “tell it” “that’s right”. They erupted at the cloud of witnesses line. This is a reference to a passage in Hebrews about those who had hope in the years before Jesus and finally saw that hope finally fulfilled through Christ. The idea of hope deferred, of course, could not be more resonant than at this inauguration, and in a passage about the first African American president. For those who assumed Warren was a right winger, this passage may have surprised and reassured.
Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet and every one of our freely elected leaders.Help us oh God, to remember that we are Americans. United not by race or religion or by blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.
–His statement that it is not religion that defines us as Americans runs slightly counter to the views of many evangelical leaders who argue that our “Christian heritage” is a defining characteristic of national identity.
When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us.
–In the era of the Founding Fathers, leaders routinely called on Americans to confess their sins and ask for God’s forgiveness. In recent years, prayers at public events have had more of a “God bless America” feel, simply assuming that we’re worthy of God’s favor. Warren’s prayer was more confessional than most recent ones. Warren extended no explicit olive branch to gay Americans but we’re left to wonder whether he was speaking in part of the gay marriage controversy when he asked for forgiveness “when we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect they deserve.”
And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches and civility in our attitudes–even when we differ.
–A return to a Warren theme. Civility.
Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all. May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day, all nations, and all people will stand accountable before You. We now commit our new president and his wife Michelle and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life–Yeshua, Esa, Jesus, Jesus–who taught us to pray:
—Warren prayed in Jesus’s name (or names), which should please his evangelical flock. (Four Jesus names!) But he did it in a non-exclusionary way. He talked about how Jesus changed HIS life, not how he must change the lives of other Americans. This stands in stark contrast to the 2001 prayer by Franklin Graham, who called on Americans to acknowledge Christ alone as savior and God.
Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
—Because he closed with the Lord’s Prayer, perhaps the most familiar prayer in the English language, hundreds of thousands of people on the Mall reverently recited these words together with Warren, creating a powerful sense of unity among many attending. It’s a Christian prayer, but ironically because it was, according to the Bible, spoken by Jesus, it doesn’t mention Jesus and therefore may seem more universal.
Cross-posted with The Wall Street Journal Online