President Barack Obama

January 20, 2009

culture / politics

Welcome to President Barack Hussein Obama.

I’ve never watched much of an inauguration before. Before the primaries of 2008, I had never voted before. I don’t believe it is my duty as a Christian to vote. But as I’ve written and said during this entire season, I certainly believe that when there is a choice that moves the worldly, fallen kingdom closer to the kingdom of Jesus in the ways that it speaks and the ways that it lives, I can vote in the knowledge that I am a citizen of that kingdom of Jesus, with the responsibility to resist evil in, and speak truth to, the fallen kingdom in which I live.

So in that attitude, I watched the inauguration. I rejoiced in the step that our nation took toward peace and justice for all, in the States and abroad. I rejoiced in the places of resonance with the heart of God that I saw, in the continuation of campaign promises and pre-election faithfulness that hopefully will continue into governance. I watched as some of the foundational myths upon which the United States is built tumbled, and as others saw themselves a step closer to becoming true.

I mourned for the continuation of the myth of redemptive violence, and for the irony of our American civil religion and idolatry that still live on under the guise of, and sometimes with a mixture of, true Christianity.

As I continue to watch and reflect, I am encouraged by the utterly unprecedented change to, because it is a beautiful design but more because it invites transparency from our government and real participation from us.

But most of all, I am in awe of the heart of God that I heard speaking through the Reverend Joseph Lowery. I rarely post full speeches or anything like that, but this one is worth your time.

Thanks to Bob Carlton for the original post. You can also watch the video there. I would suggest that you do, as he is a powerful speaker as well.

Inaugural Benediction from Rev Joseph Lowery

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand — true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we’ve shared this day. We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration. He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and, indeed, the global fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hand, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you’re able and you’re willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed — the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.


REV. LOWERY: Say amen —


REV. LOWERY: — and amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen! (Cheers, applause.)