In Christian Social Action magazine, a communication resource of the General Board of Church and Society, Neal Christie often writes prayers which are used for the closing Benediction page. This month, (Sept/Oct 2004 issue, pg. 32), he writes “A Prayer for National Discernment” which is particularly timely:
Lord of the past
From one clot of blood you formed every race and culture
And we chose to gather as nations.
But did you ever imagine a life-time election
As priest and prophet in a stateless state:
As the Word who expressed Isaiah’s word,
You were no studied mouthpiece for corporate ballots,
You took no popular polls, admitted no party allegiances,
Danced no inaugural balls,
And held no debates, but spoke truth telling parables.
By the spirit’s triune unction
You became modest enough not to escape the miseries of life,
convicted enough for the poor to save face,
alive enough to outlive Herod’s bloodletting regime
and powerful enough to promise an end to Caesar’s client empire.
Lord of the present, when the White House is our world’s largest gated community,
When we mistake flags for sacraments,
Convention speeches for Scripture,
And illegal wars for leaning on the everlasting arms;
When we prefer mass branding which glues us to telegenic emperors,
When we choose national leaders by corporate proxy,
Who predict Gospel prosperity the plantation size of Walmart;
When we by anything, but value nothing,
And shelve our souls wall to wall in the process –
God, remind us that your yoke is easy and your call without deceit,
To be in friendship with those whom you elected for life –
The poor, the immigrant, the sick, the widowed, the child.
Lord of the future,
May we believe what we sing so well, “Elect from every nation”
And with a relaxed heart commit ourselves to a lifetime of action
As citizens of no one nation,
But only to your ever expanding kin-dom,
Favoring national repentance over calculated remorse,
Vigilance for earth stewardship over stiff-necked ownership,
Health care for all over sugar high promises without cost,
Living wages over weapons of mass destruction,
A new quality of freedom in commitment over myths of national scarcity.
God, give us an election that is not of our own choosing,
In the jubilee path of Mary and Ruth, Esther and Martha.
For your movement of grace reaches farther than your justice,
And your mercy is offered without bias or bounds.
I particularly like that phrase in the third stanza, "we mistake flags for sacraments." Right on.