Thursday, February 16, 2017

"We are not enemies, but friends." A prayer for the Iowa Senate.

Prayer for Iowa State Senate – Presidents’ Birthday Week
February 16, 2017

It is an honor to be with you all this morning, to speak in this august chamber and among so many friends, members of both political parties, whom I know to care deeply about their constituents and about the present and future well-being of the State of Iowa.

O God, today, we find ourselves often defined by our differences and those things that divide us, sometimes with a heated passion, [As exemplified by the ongoing debate in this very chamber.] May we recall during this Presidents’ Day week, the words spoken by President Abraham Lincoln as he closed his First Inaugural Address, “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.”

O God, may partisan division pale in our minds and hearts in the face of the need to address the needs of the people of our state, especially the urgent needs of those who are suffering and vulnerable. As our tradition teaches us, when we consider how to solve problems that go well beyond our personal ability to resolve, “It is not up to each of us individually to complete the task, but neither can we avoid doing the work.” Let none suffer because we did not do what we could do to help.

Too often, today, we are divided by identities and focused on our differences. Many see the world as “us” vs. “them” and anxiety increases. In this context, let us recall the words of reassurance offered by George Washington in response to an inquiry by the Jewish President of the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island wondering how his minority community would be treated by the new government:

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

May all work for the betterment of our communities, our state, and our nation together.

God, I ask you today to bless the members of the Iowa Senate, to bless the people of our state, and of our nation.

Scatter light and not darkness upon us, grant us the wisdom to see the best paths forward and the courage to take them. Then will blessings flow forth from us and we will make our world a better place for all of your children; a place of prosperity, happiness, and Shalom, of peace and well-being. 

And let us say, Amen.