Sunday, January 18, 2009

Prayers for the President

THat was the title of today's sermon at our church. Been looking forward to hearing it for a few days, ever since our minister told K about his plans to focus today's service on the upcoming historic inauguration. Music was selected specially for today, same with the readings, and the sermon was very interesting, inspiring, and about as non-partisan as I think one could be at this point.

The closing hymn was one the minister requested.......Lift Every Voice and Sing. A famous civil rights-era song, in the style of We Shall Overcome, in case you weren't already familiar with it. So when K called up that song on Wednesday night at rehearsal, I think I felt a ripple of discomfort among the mostly-65-and-up members. But they sang it. As for me, I got chills both in rehearsal and in the real performance today. But even as the goose bumps subsided, the philosopher in me started thinking "what right do I have to feel any ownership of this?" "Where do I get off having goose bumps?"

I wasn't born until the early 70s. (read: after the marches and sit-ins and protests and tragic assassinations of the 1960s) So it's not like I marched at Selma or boycotted buses, and I wasn't a Freedom Rider helping to level the playing field for all Americans. Oh, and one more thing.......I'm just about as white as they come. I've never been forced to go to separate schools, eat at different restaurants or use different restrooms. Never felt discrimination, really I haven't, and I know I'm blessed to be able to say that.

I guess my only real connection is that of my American citizenship, and my lifelong U.S. history nerd-itude. So I've read things, watched things, learned things about what America has been through in her past, and am especially fascinated by the 1960s. Didn't live through it, but it almost feels like I have.

As a Mom, I've tried to make sure my kids are brought up to respect differences, treat everyone equally and be as color-blind as they can be when it comes to dealing with people. I think I've succeeded, so far at least. Mr. Literal's school is quite ethnically diverse, and some of his best friends have much darker skin tones than he does. He's the blond/blue-eyed/fair skinned child, but he knows that not everyone looks like him....and that's ok with him too, thankfully.

That Lift Every Voice song has 3 long verses to I had lots of time to ponder my feelings of pride and hope as we sang. By the time we got to the last verse, it all made sense.

Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

Isn't that what it's all about anyway? OUR God, OUR native land, all of us. And so we approach Tuesday's historic event, cautiously daring to hope that the new President can do what the last several have not.......bring us together to work for common goals and aspirations. If we truly believe in equality and the dreams that Martin Luther King spoke of, then we have every right to join hands together this week, to demonstrate that equality in the way that we ALL celebrate the inauguration of our next President.

So as the minister said "President Obama, you are in our prayers." Amen, brother, amen.

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