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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Amen! Rev. Lowery Says the Good Word for Us All

I don't drink the Jesus juice much. But given good preaching like the benediction offered by Reverend Joseph E. Lowery from the Inaugural podium, I'll take an other swig.

I heard Lowery's prayer on the radio. At first, it seemed hard to understand, and I imagined an old man shivering in the cold, struggling to make the words clear. In a way, that strengthened the impact of the words, the sincere good wishes for the new President, the country, and the world.

Dr. Newquist offers the full transcript, as do I, courtesy of Beliefnet and the Federal News Service:

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.

How often I hear "God Bless America" and wish I could speak up and add "...and God bless everyone else, too!" Reverend Lowery understands that.

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.

Preach it, brother. Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable, just like Jesus did.

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.

If I had any trouble understanding Reverend Lowery's words at the beginning, he was coming through loud and clear now. He found his rhythm and made the words sing.

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.

Love. Inclusion. Reaching out to the margins. Wherever.

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.)

And yes, even this non-believer (and Obama mentioned us non-believers in his speech! we must be Americans!) said Amen, right along with what a fella on the radio today described as "a couple million of my closest friends." Several million, 300 million friends, my fellow Americans.

Preaching like that could set this country right. Amen. Amen.


  1. God bless you, Comrade!

  2. I am happy to hear that God brought Reverend Joseph E. Lowery into your life. Everything happens for a purpose. Keep listening.

  3. I'm a little confused, Cory. You attend church, your wife is a Christian and plans to attend seminary, you claim to stand for all the Biblical and ethical standards of WWJD, and yet you are now in the last few weeks coming out as an agnostic or atheist. What gives?

  4. I attend church? I come for soup supper every now and then, but I remain unaffiliated and keep my Sunday mornings to myself.

    Just coming out? Perhaps you are new to town. Ask around: my religious views have been public for over 20 years.

  5. ...none of which changes the fact the Rev. Lowery's message was dead on, worthy of the attention of every American.

  6. Cory,

    I respect your beliefs, and I do not mean to offend.

    That being said, I do hope that someday you come to recognize and embrace the loving grace of God.

    There's nothing like, brother. When done the right way, faith brings you peace, love, and a passion for living. Oh, yeah, and that salvation thing.

    It's like Jimmy Buffet says about Juicy Fruit . . . it's good for your soul.

  7. "...we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- when yellow will be mellow -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- and when white will embrace what is right."

    How in the name of all that is good can this statement be deemed to bring us together? Blacks are not now asked to "get back." Red men can get ahead if they want to work; there are plenty who have. The brown and yellow statements mean what??? And he insulted all whites, implying that they do not now do what is right. This is a racist statement and not all meant to bring us together.

  8. DJ: no offense taken at all. But would folks please stop worrying about my salvation? That's out of our hands. Let's worry about saving the economy, the sick, the poor, the oppressed...

    Anon 6:17: toughen up. There was nothing racist or insulting in Rev. Lowery's remarks. I'm white, I voted for Obama, but I didn't feel slighted or excluded by anything Lowery said. He reminded me of how much work I, in my privileged position in the majority race, still have to do to bring that full justice for all people. Rev. Lowery's speech was much more inclusive (and inspiring) than Rev. Warren's, which took unfair advantage of a public event to promote the limited agenda of his particular branch of one particular religion. Instead of selfishless co-opting the moment to serve his interests, Rev. Lowery called us all to fulfill the common mission of our country: justice for all.

  9. Cory, you said regarding salvation, "That's out of our hands". How would your wife as a future minister feel about that?

  10. Since I’m going to be a Lutheran minister, I would say the same thing, just like Luther did. Salvation IS out of our hands. We’re incapable of choosing God, and salvation isn’t about our choosing God anyway. It’s about God choosing us.

  11. I believe that God chose every one of us when he created us, and that belief in Jesus is what gives us salvation. We can't earn salvation by anything we do, agreed. But we receive it as a gift when we have faith.

  12. Lowery's remarks about whites were inappropriate and insulting. Naturally the idiot libs out there don't have a problem with that.

  13. Sounds like Anon 1:21 is trying to contribe insult and indignance at the expense of recognizing a great prayer, one sufficiently powerful and heartfelt to make even an atheist join in saying Amen to a common effort to make America better.


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