First the Invocation given by Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church:

Let us pray.

Almighty God, our Father, everything we see and everything we can’t see exists because of you alone. It all comes from you. It all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory.
History is your story. The Scripture tells us, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God. The Lord is One.” And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.

Now, today, we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time. We celebrate a hingepoint of history with the inauguration of our first African American president of the United States. We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.Give to our new President, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.

Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race, or religion, or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all. When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us. And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.

Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all. May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you. We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.

I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus, who taught us to pray:

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

HT: Compassion in Politics

Rev. Joseph Lowery, an ordained United Methodist pastor and civil rights leader, gave the Inaugural Benediction:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.)


HT: Lynn Sweet – Chicago Sun Times

I thought knew Rick Warren would pray in the name of Jesus and I’m sure he’ll take flack for that from the left.  I don’t think Rev. Lowery’s  last paragraph will do much to improve race relations, but I think he was just trying to be lighthearted and it backfired (notice no laughter after the white statement).  Anyway, what did you think of the Invocation and Benediction?

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  1. I was happy to be able to read the text from each of these prayers as I was at work and could not watch the inauguration on TV.

    There is already criticism of Rick Warren's prayer coming from the homosexual community. I think if they are honest, their criticism should be directed towards President Obama as he is the one who asked Rick Warren to invoke the benediction. After all, Obama knew Mr. Warren is a Christian. Why would anyone expect that he pray in any other name than the name of Jesus?

    In my opinion, Rev. Lowery's prayer contained such beautiful language that it makes me wonder why he included that last paragraph. It sort of ruined the whole thing for me. It did not fit the tone of the whole prayer at all. Very curious.

  2. i would say the benediction is more inspiring and heartfelt prayer than the invocation.

  3. I would say the benediction is more inspiring and heartfelt prayer than the invocation.

  4. I would say the benediction is more inspiring and heartfelt prayer than the invocation.

  5. Hey Shane,
    I have read several comments out there in the blogosphere regarding Rev. Lowery's prayer that state that the ending words do have historical and cultural significance to African Americans. Perhaps I just don't understand.

    After reading through his prayer again, I think that the more problematic words might be found in the sixth paragraph beginning with the words, “And as we leave this mountaintop,”. He ends the paragraph with these words, “or wherever we seek your will.” Is Rev. Lowery suggesting that all ways of seeking God are valid? Perhaps I am reading more in to it than he meant. However, it bears repeating that although we respect the right for people to exercise their religion of choice, Christians must stand firm and unwavering in the truth of the gospel.

  6. Well, they may have historical and cultural significance to African Americans, but then he opened the door to misunderstanding and people taking offense.

    The “as we leave this mountaintop” I think refers to the inauguration. The phrase “or wherever we seek your will” does seem to imply a relativistic approach to theology or a universal salvation. I really don't know anything about his theology beyond the fact he is an ordained United Methodist pastor.

  7. For black who remember that saying from childhood the ending comments of the benediction were funny. People need to stop taking life so seriously. Minorities are continually on the outside looking in. Now they feel included and those that have been included for an eternity suddenly are getting a taste of what it feels like to be on the outside of a joke. it was a joke that was symbolic of how far we've come. if you think race no longer matters you're being naive. of course, it does and maybe now there will be a greater chance of an intermingling of cultures through this one little saying.

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