Rick Warren's invocation at this morning's inauguration was inclusive at first, and explicitly Christian in the end, with the English version of the Jewish Sh'ma at the start and, perhaps in an allusion to the controversy over his selection, a call to reconciliation, saying, "when we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us." He recited the name of Jesus in Hebrew, Arabic and Spanish, as well as in English.
Here's a transcript, followed by the video:
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, Oh 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 hinge-point 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, oh 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, Jesús, 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.
Also, the Globe's Matthew Gilbert is reporting that HBO will air Bishop Gene Robinson's invocation, delivered Sunday at a pre-inaugural event but not included in the original telecast.
UPDATE: Some local reaction to Warren's invocation.
Rabbi Howard A. Berman, of Boston Jewish Spirit, e-mailed the following note to his congregation:
With the joy and excitement of the Inauguration moment now over, we can be grateful that the spirit of unity and inclusion that our new President stands for, seems to have touched even the heart of Pastor Warren. Despite our worst fears, his invocation was, in fact, remarkably appropriate, and as broad and embracing as it could have possibly been, given his evangelical beliefs. He referred to "Scripture", rather than using the more specific term, "Bible", and quoted the words of the Shema, "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One" as well as the opening phrase of the Koran, "O God who is merciful and compassionate..." He called for respect for all people, in the midst of disagreements. And most significantly, instead of concluding with the traditional phrase, "We ask this in Jesus' name...", he instead said "I ask this in the name of Jesus", which was personal and fitting, without excluding or disenfranchising those who do not pray in that manner. His further attempt at pluralism, in also using the Hebrew and Arabic versions of Jesus (Yeshua and Issa) certainly reflects his fundamental Christian belief that Jesus is Lord and Savior of all people - including Jews and Muslims... but could also have simply been intended to express a broader view of his own faith. The fact remains that much of Rick Warren's preaching and positions are restrictive and exclusionary, and will continue to be demeaning and offensive to GLBT people, women, and many others - including many other Christians. However, in this instance, his clear attempts at reconciliation can offer us hope that in this new era, some of the divisions in American life will indeed be healed, with greater efforts at dialogue and sensitivity on all sides of the religious and political spectrum.
And Dave Schmelzer, the senior pastor at Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Greater Boston, sent me this observation:
The prayer seemed fair enough to me. He clearly was trying to ground it in the Shema, which links Jews, Christians and Muslims. The substance of his prayer seemed non-controversial and I'd presume most Americans of good will wouldn't be offended, presuming there's a God, if God answered those prayers. And then his decision to close the prayer "in Jesus' name" and with the Lord's Prayer...granted, there has been controversy about whether that's an appropriately inclusive thing to do in a pluralistic nation. But given that he is an evangelical pastor, it struck me that he did his best to be thoughtful even in that, with his translation of Jesus' name into multiple languages--not least "Isa," Jesus' name in the Qur'an. So, my take, could anyone have wanted him to do better than that?(Photo by Jason Reed of Reuters.)