Thursday, January 22, 2009

What National Prayer Service?

"On behalf of the Washington National Cathedral I would like to welcome you to this National Prayer Service. It is a special privilege to welcome President and Mrs. Obama, Vice President and Mrs. Biden, and many of the leaders of our government.

What I should really say to you is, “Welcome to YOUR Cathedral.” This Cathedral was built to be a spiritual home for the nation, and the service today is a clear embodiment of the kind of devoted service we seek to offer our country.

Forty years ago Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached his last Sunday sermon from the Canterbury pulpit of this Cathedral before going to Memphis, where he was assassinated. It is no small thing to welcome to this Cathedral not only our distinguished and gifted new president, but our first African American president. It is an honor and joy to be able to celebrate such a rhyming of important moments in our nation’s life.

Today marks the new administration’s first day on the job. We all know they have their work cut out for them. The best thing we can imagine doing is to pray with and for them. And so we come together as people of many different faiths and perspectives to pray for guidance and strength for the work ahead.

In Dr. King’s sermon he said, “Human progress comes through the tireless efforts ... of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God.”

This morning we are all co-workers, all of us here to pray with and for our leaders, and all of us here to dedicate ourselves to support them in the vital work ahead.

Once again, welcome."

The Very Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III

The newly-inaugurated President and Vice President of the United States joined with dignitaries and Americans of diverse faiths to celebrate the inauguration through prayer, readings, and musical performances. Reverend Dr. Sharon Watkins was the first woman to deliver the sermon at this traditional Inaugural event. Another of many "firsts" in this new era of American history and profound, positive change.

I don't think the service was broadcast on any of the many channels but here is a presentation that would have beaten them all anyway, an on-demand showing of the entire service thanks to the Washington National Cathedral website.

Here are a few glimpses of what transpired, and then go and see the service yourself.

You can also download and print out the service leaflet and follow the service even more closely. Also available is the sermon text delivered by the first woman minister EVER to preach at an inaugural prayer service...God Almighty, I love progress and the equal treatment of ordained women in this nation's history, but I love also the grace given to this man we have elected to lead our nation forward and out of the darkness, and the torture and the strictures of fundamentalism into a more inclusive society and one where we can be proud to be Americans again. Amen.

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