Today began with the traditional service of Morning Prayer at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square.
Merlie Evers Williams offered the invocation. Video and text here.
Luis Leon, Rector of St. John’s Lafayette Square, offered the benediction. Part of that prayer:
We pray for your blessing because without it, we will see only what the eye can see. But with the blessing of your blessing we will see that we are created in your image, whether brown, black or white, male or female, first generation or immigrant American, or daughter of the American Revolution, gay or straight, rich or poor.
We pray for your blessing because without it, we will only see scarcity in the midst of abundance. But with your blessing we will recognize the abundance of the gifts of this good land with which you have endowed this nation.
During the Inaugural, Evangelical superstar pastor Mark Driscoll tweeted this:
There was considerable controversy last week over the inclusion of evangelical Luis Giglio, even more controversy when he withdrew. There was controversy in 2009 over the decision to have Rick Warren pray. These are rituals of civil religion; even the service at St. John’s is largely a ritual of civil religion (to the extent that when FDR began it, the Episcopal Church was by and large the civil religion of the US).
I think Episcopalians would do well to engage in a lively conversation over whether bowing to that tradition of civil religion bodes well for us in the twenty-first century. Today, I cringe at the Episcopal Church’s association with political power and prestige, and our apparent implicit consent in the wars, torture, use of drones, and assault on civil liberties, as well as domestic policies that have worsened the plight of the weakest in our society.
On the other hand, whatever conversation we might have would be drowned out by those like Driscoll who reject our Christian faith and the president’s; and by the shouting match between the religious right and the secularists who want nothing religious in the Inauguration; for example decrying the use of bibles in oath-taking ceremonies.
Negotiating our faithful journey among those alternatives requires a great deal of prayer, scriptural reflection, and much more humility than most humans have.